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The Brio Zento is a combination child car seat for use from birth to 7 years (25kg). It’s unique on the UK market in that it is the only rear-facing seat available after 9 months, and five times safer than any other seat available.
Brio is a Swedish company which began life in 1884. It is most known for its quirky wooden toys but it also makes cots, cotbeds, high chairs and car seats, among other things – all highly covetable items that reek of quality and style (and sadly, expense – Ikea-rival Brio is not!).
The Brio Zento is a car seat that can be used facing forward, rear facing or as a booster seat. It’s named after the Japanese word ‘zento’ meaning ‘the beginning of a journey into the future’. Its most unique feature is that it is approved for rear-facing travel for children up to 4 years approximately (whereas in the UK after 9 months of age – 13kgs max – car seats are forward-facing).
Research from various Swedish traffic-accident bodies and from Volvo, indicate that children are five times less likely to be injured or killed in an accident while rear-facing. For a detailed summary see the Rearfacing.co.uk website. The Zento is the result of more than 20 years of research into child safety – compliant with ECE R44/04 – the European standard for children’s car seats.
What we love
Rear facing is thought to be an even safer way for your child to travel. It is extremely comfortable for your little one as all straps are padded. It comes with a removable, washable cover and is great value for money because it will last for years. It is also easier to get baby in and out of the car when rear-facing and for a passenger to give the baby a bottle while on the move!
My 9-month old passenger, Jack, fits snugly into his Zento and the adjustable shoulder straps are at a perfect height for him.
Once fitted, it really is an excellent product and my son looks very safe as it is not only secured by strong tether straps (attached to the base of the driver’s seat), but also the rear seat belt. It can also be wedged against the back of the front seats and there is even an additional ‘locking clip’ which keeps the rear seat belt more securely fixed.
What to watch out for
You’ll need a degree in engineering to fit it correctly.
To get the seat fitted took many hours of swearing and sweating on the floor of the Audi (A4) while I tried to fit the tether straps to the front driver’s seat mechanism, and while the instructions on the included DVD are very clear – this is not much use when you are wedged between the clutch and the floor mats. There is also a manual but it appears to have been translated confusingly, and while there are many options for securing the seat, the instructions give little indication of best practice.
Who is the Brio Zento best for?
Parents after a car seat that offers rear facing travel as an option for older toddlers.
A truly unique design of combination car seat where safety is a big consideration and value for money reigns.