Latest deals from trusted retailers
Having a baby is an expensive business, so products with a long lifespan are very welcome for budget-conscious mums. The Mamas & Papas Contra Group 0+/1 car seat is a good value buy that will see your baby through from birth to around 4 years, but it’s not the easiest seat to use in a rear facing position.
The Contra is Mamas & Papas’ first car seat to be suitable from birth to 18kg. As a Group 0+/1, it’s fitted rearward facing until your baby reaches 13kg, and then can be turned around to face forwards until your child’s 18kg. Its safety features include side impact protection and a 5-point harness, with three height positions to accommodate your growing child.
The Mamas & Papas Contra comes with a removable body hugger cushion for babies up to about 6 months, and has a 5-position recline so your baby can play or sleep in comfort. It has a stylish plain black design, and costs a very reasonable £99.99.
What we love
The best feature of the Mamas & Papas Contra has to be its longevity. For under £100, you get a car seat that will last from birth to roughly 4 years. And although it’s a big seat for a tiny baby, the removable body hugger looks like it would keep a newborn feeling comfortable and secure.
I’m a bit of a drip when it comes to fitting car seats, and tend to leave that job to my husband, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to fit the Contra. At first glance, the instructions look baffling, but if you follow the written directions alongside the pictorial guide, it’s straightforward to fit it in both rear facing and forward facing positions. I really like the little clips under the seat that anchor the seatbelt in place when the seat is installed forward facing, giving me peace of mind that the seat is fitted correctly.
At 9 months old and just under 9kg, my daughter Katie is slightly too small to travel forward facing, but she seems very happy facing backwards in the Contra. It’s higher up than our usual Group 0/0+ rear facing infant carrier, so it gives her a better view through the window.
The plain black upholstery makes the Contra a simple but stylish looking seat, and it’s washable, too. I also like the holder under the seat for storing the manual – a great feature if, like me, you tend to mislay instructions.
What to watch out for
For me, the biggest issue with the Contra is the lack of headroom when it’s rear facing. Its size and height makes it difficult to squeeze Katie in without bashing her head on the roof of the car. This wouldn’t be a problem in the forward facing position, or in a car with more height than my Ford Focus, but it really puts me off using it until Katie is big enough to face the front.
Adjusting the harness is awkward, too. To move the straps to a different height, you have to reach underneath the seat and unclip them from a metal buckle, and it’s incredibly fiddly, leaving my hands red and battered. A quick internet search suggests that other mums have had the same problem. I also think it’s a shame that the body hugger cushion can only be used with the straps in the lowest position (up to about 6 months).
While I managed to fit the Contra easily, I’m not convinced about its stability. It seems to move about rather a lot from side to side, particularly in the forward facing position. It’s not compatible with ISOFIX or an in-car base, either.
The other issue, which is common to Group 0+/1 car seats, is that the Contra can’t be used with a buggy to create a travel system or lifted easily into and out of the car, so this is a potential headache if your little one likes to doze off when travelling.
Who is the Mamas & Papas Contra car seat best for?
Families after a car seat offering great value, longevity and a smart, unisex look.
The Mamas & Papas Contra is a brilliant budget buy that will see you through your child’s first four years. It’s easily fitted in both rear and forward facing positions, but be prepared to struggle with some of the adjustments, and steer clear if you have a car that’s lacking in headroom.
Latest deals from trusted retailers
|Brand||Mamas & Papas|
|Model||Contra car seat|
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 4 years|
Dimensions & Weight
|Travel system compatible||No|
|Positions of carry handle||None|
|Removeable cover for washing||Yes|