The Mamas & Papas Vito car seat is a Group 1 offering that can be installed with your car’s seatbelts or by using the same ISOFIX base used for the Group 0+Mamas & Papas Primo Viaggio. A smart money-saving move, if you plan ahead.
The instruction manual for the Mamas & Papas Vito states that the car seat is “suitable for installation on the majority of vehicle seats”. Well, it wouldn’t fit on mine! It wobbled from side to side when rocked. Admittedly, I do drive a rather clapped-out old banger, but this goes to show that it’s vital to visit a store that offers a professional fitting service for your preferred car seat before buying it. It’s always possible to shop around once you know the seat fits properly.
The Vito is Mamas & Papas’ latest addition to its Group 1 car seat range. As a brand new product for 2010, it hasn’t yet had time to win any awards. Its selling point is its flexibility, as the Vito can be secured with the use of seatbelts or with an ISOFIX base, which can be purchased separately. The base is the same one used with the Mamas & Papas Primo Viaggio Group 0+ car seat, so savings could be made if you already have this infant seat.
In terms of safety, the Vito has a 5-point fixed safety harness to keep little ones securely in place. It also benefits from side impact protection and comes with the Mamas & Papas 2-year service commitment.
What we love
Once I’d given up struggling to fit the Mamas & Papas Vito into my old car, I found that installing it into my husband’s slightly newer model was much easier. His car isn’t ISOFIX compatible, so it was a case of threading the seatbelts behind the seat, then anchoring the lap belt under two slots and clipping the shoulder belt into the ‘Steady Fix’ device (a large clip!). I have a couple of niggles about the fittings (more about this later), but the actual process was relatively straightforward.
Harry, my 15-month-old son, was totally blasé about his new car seat and promptly fell asleep on his first outing in the Vito. The Vito looks comfortable – Harry seems perfectly happy in it - and is easy to recline through three positions. It’s also smart and stylish, if you like black, as there are no other options.
I particularly like the plastic pouch on the rear of the seat, where the instruction manual can be stored. It’s a great idea to have the booklet to hand for use by friends or relatives if you aren’t around to give guidance.
A simple yet handy feature is the addition of ‘Belt Retainer Straps’ on either side of the headrest. Harry inevitably ends up sitting on the straps when I put him in the seat. These two pieces of elastic hold the buckles out of the way. What a great idea!
I think it’s essential that a car seat cover can be removed for washing. My son and fixed covers don’t mix! The Vito cover can be machine-washed at 30 degrees.
The Vito also comes complete with a booster cushion/body hugger for babies 9 months and older, which can be removed to increase seat space as your child grows.
What to watch out for
The Mamas & Papas Vito is promoted as having an ‘easy seatbelt routing system’, and I would agree that the fitting process is uncomplicated. However, I found it difficult to get the lap belt to stay under the two slots that keep it in place. It was also awkward to fasten the ‘Steady Fix’ device (which holds the shoulder belt) with one hand, while simultaneously keeping the belt taut with the other.
Harry frequently nods off in the car, but even with the Vito in the reclined position, his head lolls forward. The seat lacks any additional head or neck support. And while it does have four harness height settings, the cover has to be removed to change the position of the straps. It’s hard to tell how well this seat will wear, but after just a few weeks of use, there are already two little plucks in the cover material.
Finally, having paid £170 for a car seat, it seems a little steep to have to pay an extra £135 for an ISOFIX base. The Vito may appeal more to those who already own the Group 0+ Primo Viaggio car seat and can therefore reuse its base.
The Mamas & Papas Vito is a smart, comfortable and stylish car seat that offers a solution to the problem of swapping seats between non-ISOFIX and ISOFIX compatible cars. The Vito is heavy to carry, but straightforward to fit. And the seatbelt retainer straps are fab!