When it comes to buying car seats, it can be confusing with so many options available and different rules depending on the age and size of your child.
Recent legislation, called i-Size was introduced in July 2013, which requires children to stay in rearward-facing car seats until they are at least 15-months-old, rather than being under 9kgs. These regulations also state that greater side impact protection is required, providing a safer environment for your child head and neck, should you be involved in an accident.
These new laws brought the UK inline with other European countries, where they use rear-facing car seats for much longer. The Rebl is from Dutch brand Nuna, and it exceeds current regulations, but it has been classified as a Which? Don’t Buy.
Nuna does not sell the Rebl car seat anymore and has since replaced it with the new Rebl Plus – we have a full review of the new car seat coming soon.
What is a Which? ‘Don’t Buy’?
In a recent consumer crash test the Nuna Rebl was labeled as a ‘Don’t Buy’ product over safety concerns that it could put children at ‘high risk of serious injury’ when used in the reverse-seating mode.
When crash tested with a dummy weighing roughly the weight of a 3-year-old sitting in a rearward facing position, the seat, sometimes, was not up to withstanding the forces of the crash.
The tests, according to Which?, were ‘severe,’ meaning they go beyond the newest safety tests and regulations (ECE R129 law) and all of the European tests required for the seat.
So what does that mean? Is the Nuna Rebl car seat safe?
Immediately following the test Nuna decided not to recall the car seat, however it’s since replaced the model with the Nuna Rebl Plus seat.
At the time they said: “The Nuna REBL meets and exceeds all the relevant UK government safety standards. The German Automobile Club, ADAC, has performed an extreme test, which is not recognised by the UK Department of Transport, or any other standard the industry is asked to comply with.”
“We will not be conducting a product recall unless the recognised relevant national authorities deem the seat is unsafe. However, ultimately, what matters is our customers’ peace of mind – therefore, we are offering an exchange or full refund to any customer that does not feel that the rigorous UK government standards are sufficient.
Any customers can contact the retailer where they purchased the product from for an exchange or full refund.
And if you have any queries you can also contact Nuna’s customer service team Monday through Friday on 0800 952 0061 between the hours of 9am to 5pm, or via email at email@example.com.
First impressions of the Nuna Rebl?
Nuna’s products combine looks, smart design and craftsmanship and simplicity.
Their other ranges have won a vast number of awards from parenting and design institutions and I’m pretty sure the Rebl isn’t far behind in notching up a huge range of gongs.
A rotating car seat that will take your child from birth to the age of four, with the option of being rear-facing until then, the Rebl also has seven recline positions and can accommodate a baby from 40cm, so it’s been billed as ideal for parents with premature babies.
Research shows that rear-facing car seats are 75% safer than forward facing car seats, when they are in an accident, so this one of the biggest selling points of this seat. As well as this, it is great to look at and simple to use.
In terms of competition, the Rebl sits alongside other rotating car seats like the Britax Dualfix, Maxi-Cosi 2Way Pearl, Cybex Sirona, and the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix.
The main difference with the Nuna Rebl is that the seat is i-Size and suitable from birth to 19.5kgs or 105cm. The next comparable car seat is the 2Way Pearl, which takes a child from 67cm to 105cm or 18kgs.
It also has a 360-degree swivel function, rather than a 180-degree swivel function of some of the other seats, so it can be placed anywhere in the car and is very easy to use without pulling any muscles!
How comfortable is it for your baby?
This seat is incredibly comfortable with heaps of cushioning. I put my six-week daughter in the infant insert and it was lovely, with padding all around her and she looked surprisingly snug.
So far, she has hated being in the car in general and cried constantly – rather than dropping off like most newborns. But because she was quite high up, when my husband was driving, I could reach round and soothe her.
I would feel very confident using this seat from birth. It has a five-point safety harness, which is easy to use and a well-padded crotch strap to avoid pinching any little – or not so little – thighs!
How comfortable is it for your toddler?
I tested it out without the infant insert, which is easily detachable in toddler mode with my three-year old and she was very happy.
This seat is much more comfortable then the Maxi Cosi ones we have used in the past. She had enough legroom when rear facing but if you had a particularly tall child, this could be an issue.
All the soft parts can be detached and washed easily – definitely something I would look for because our three-year-old is often carsick. There are also ventilation panels within the shell to create a cool environment.
Will your little one be rear facing until four years?
Like other European countries, this seat faces rearwards until four years. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep my toddler rearward-facing past 15 months, but it is brilliant to have that option.
Would you recommend it to someone of a child of a specific age?
No, the beauty of this car seat is that it can be used from birth upwards. I am very happy to have this now for my youngest one until she outgrows it when she is four.
How is strapping your little ones in?
Strapping my baby is was a pleasure and the swivel seat means you don’t have to bend round in an uncomfortable position.
The harness straps release easily with the press of a button and can be tightened with a single pull on the adjustment webbing.
How adjustable is the headrest and the recline positions?
The headrest is adjusted with the support adjustment lever and can be snapped into one of seven positions.
This is great to ensure your child is at exactly the right level. It also reclines into seven positions, from baby mode, which is quite flat, to toddler mode, which is upright.
While it is good to have all seven positions, the difference between them is quite small. The flattest one isn’t totally flat but in like with other first car seats.
What do you think of the safety aspects?
In terms of safety it meets and exceeds i-Size regulations. It also has a host of other safety features including a SIP system for all over size protection, patented tailor tech memory foam, a crumple zone with the stability absorbing impact and minimising force to baby.
Then there’s the integrated rebound bar that helps minimise rotation during impact.
Tell us about the design.
The design is exactly what the brand ethos says it does – raising children in smart, simple chic-looking gear. This car seat is extremely stylish and well made.
We tested the berry colour, but all the colours are sophisticated and contemporary.
Is the product value for money?
The product is expensive but is excellent quality and lasts for a long time. Nearly all car seat brands offer one seat from birth to 13kg and then a follow-on car seat.
However, once you have bought this seat, you will not need to buy another for four years. It is excellent value for money but might feel like a lot to spend on one single product. In my opinion though, it is definitely worth it.
What’s in the box?
The Rebl car seat comes with the ISOFIX integrated, ISOFIX guides to help install it into your car and a spare seat cover. As a mum of two having a spare seat cover only added to the positives of this seat.
The extra cover is made of an airier mesh material for summer months, so your little one doesn’t get too hot in their seat.
How is it to install in the car?
The seat was easy to install into our five-door Golf and like any other ISOFIX seat and the instructions were clear and straightforward, with diagrams, illustrations and recommendations.
The seat and ISOFIX base are quite heavy (as most car seats are) so not so easy to swap from car to car, though my husband found this very easy and there are coloured indicators on the stability leg to stop errors.
The ISOFIX guides ensure you fit the seat properly and that your car material doesn’t get ripped or damaged. We didn’t use them on our Golf but they are handy to have and if we had a bigger, more expensive car I imagine we would’ve used them!
The seat cannot be used without an ISOFIX just using a seat belt, so if you do not have ISOFIX points in your car, then you would need a system installed. With absolutely no compromise on the highest safety features, the 9-position ISOFIX anchors allow for a custom fit and provide tight installation.
Is this seat part of a travel system?
No, this seat has to stay in the car once it has been installed, so can’t be used a part of a travel system.
I haven’t found this a bad thing because there is a temptation to leave your baby to sleep in the car seat if you go on a walk for example, or transfer them from their seat and leave them to sleep indoors in their seat, rather than moving them to their moses basket or cot so you don’t risk waking them up!
However leaving them for too long in their seat is not advised by health professionals because it is said to put pressure on the baby’s developing spine. So without the temptation there, our little one comes straight out and into her buggy or moses basket.