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Otherwise known as the ECE R129 safety regulation, the new rule (due to come into force in 2018) requires children to sit rear-facing until they are at least 15-months-old, surpassing the old regulation age cap by a full seven months.
The first car seat manufacturer to create a UK government certified i-Size car seat was Joie, with its i-Anchor, released earlier this year.
Following on from its groundbreaking chair, Joie has produced the Stages car seat, which can be used rear-facing until your child is four-years-old or 18kg, well over the legal requirement.
Rearward facing car seats are known to be five times safer than forward facing seats in a frontal collision.
So being able to keep your child rearward facing for longer is a big plus for any parent concerned about motor saftey.
A Group 0+/1/2 car seat, it fits into your car with a seat belt, as opposed to an ISOFIX base and it ‘grows as quickly as your child,’ according to Joie, as it stretches from birth to a full seven years.
It has won awards for innovation and best buy multi stage car seat, and received an honourable mention for design all in the year or so it’s been on the market. High accolades indeed, but is the Stages really a joy to behold?
Is it easy to install the Stages chair in a car?
Yes and no! As this is a multi stage seat, which faces rear and forward, there are lots of dos and don’ts to make sure your little one is safe.
And when I first started reading the instructions I felt like calling in the Enigma code team.
The instruction booklet has the wording a few pages ahead of the diagrams, which involved repeatedly flitting between them. So it took me a little while, but I eventually got my head around them!
Once I did, the seat was easy to put in and only took a matter of minutes.
But remember, here at MFM we always think it’s better to get an expert to show you how to safely install a car seat in your vehicle before you buy it.
Is it portable?
Yes, it’s light enough to be carried with one hand and move from one car to the other, but bulky enough to make that leg-bangingly awkward.
Installing it rear-facing and reclined was a bit of a squeeze (not great if the person sitting in the front seat wants lots of leg room). Forward-facing it was much easier.
How is strapping your little one in?
Strapping Ezra in was very easy, but the chair has a fairly standard three-point buckle. One of those which perplexes you when you first look at it, but then fits together like a puzzle when you swivel all the pieces around a bit! It’s ok when fitting together, if you have time, but if you’ve got a struggling tot on your hands it’s not so convenient as it takes both hands to use.
How comfortable is the seat?
It comes with a plush and comfy insert for your newborn, which should be removed when your child is over six months.
The seat itself is also super comfy looking, and very well padded. It has obviously been designed with comfort in mind.
Is it both a good rear and forward-facing seat?
Yep, although I think the age range of using the rear-facing position (birth to four) is a bit ambitious.
Ezra is nearly three and he had his feet either at an angle up against the back seat or curled in front of him because there was no where else to put them.
Front-facing allows much more room for your growing tot to lets their legs dangle.
My only other gripe is that when the seat is rearward-facing it juts back quite far, not leaving much space, if any, between it and the front seat.
It is a Group 0+/1/2 seat, is there much difference between the stages?
Yes, it’s a gradual change, but is very easy to adapt. The baby insert is a little Teddy bear shaped pad of comfy fabric and is very easily removed at six months.
After that it’s a matter of adjusting the harnesses and headrest, which is very simple, as your baby grows up.
When they reach four years and you’re frantically looking for school places, they can feel like mini adults when the chair adapts to a high-backed booster seat.
The buckle and harnesses neatly tuck away behind a little padded panel in your baby’s backrest and you use the car’s seatbelt from then on.
What do you think of the difference between using the 5-point harness system and the seat in the Group 2 stage?
The car’s own seatbelt can be used from age four to seven, or ‘Youth mode’ as Joie call it.
Four is definitely a good age to dump the tricksy buckle. The chair has slots and guides to put the seatbelt through to make sure your not-so-little one is strapped in safely.
How many recline positions does it have?
Four in total, but only one is suitable for the rear facing ‘infant mode’ (birth to four-months-old).
There are three reclining positions for the next two modes, ‘toddler’ (one to four-years-old) and ‘youth’ (three to seven years).
And it’s really easy to recline, with the pull of an easy to reach handle under the front of the seat.
However, you have to set the reclining position before you install the seat though, which isn’t very practical if your little one wants to sleep/wake up during the journey.
Tell us about the headrest.
The headrest can be adjusted with one hand very easily simply by pulling the handle.
The harnesses, which have five positions, are really easy to adjust with the push of a button and a tug of the straps. There’s none of that rethreading at the back of the seat, which is usually very frustrating.
Will it last the full seven years?
It’s sturdy and the fabrics are good quality, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t. Plus the Stages looks great – comfy and classy. It certainly comes across as well designed and luxurious.
Is it value for money?
At £159.99 I think it’s pretty good value for a well-designed car seat that spans from birth to seven-years-old. The seat itself has an expiration date of 10 years.
Is the car seat easy to clean?
Yep. The fabrics are good quality, are some parts are machine washable.
What’s in the box?
- Joie Stages car seat
- Instruction book
Any additional extras?
- None needed
The Joie Stages looks good, is comfy, easy to install, and is good value for money – £160 for ten years of use seems like a good investment to me.