The Alpha is an exciting new launch by innovative buggy brand Phil & Teds; famous for accommodating growing families with clever pram designs which transport a whole brood of varying ages and needs.
So it’s no wonder the company’s car seat launch is designed to be super-slimline (just 43.5cm wide), lightweight (3.9kg) and ideal for families with multiple children – they reckon you could fit two other car seats alongside the Alpha in the back of most cars.
It’s also made for busy parents who want to ‘click and go’ from the house to the car and even all around town in one of their pram systems. And, not forgetting all important safety, the seat is in the Group 0+ conforming to new EU law to keep children rear-facing for 15 months, has EPS foam high-side protection, a 5-point safety harness and three ways to fit into your car.
You can buy the Phil & Ted’s Alpha car seat at Mothercare.
The Alpha’s price point of £129 sits it up there with premium car seat designs like the Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix (£135), Cybex Aton Q (£120) and Cosatto Hold (£140). And, while it isn’t actually the narrowest, or the lightest, among its competitors, it does combine both slimline and lightweight very well to make it one of the most compact on the market.
With a growing family and a not-growing-anywhere car, we were on the lookout for a super-safe car seat which would accommodate our bigger than average baby and also fit into a rather tight spot…step forward the brand new Phil & Teds Alpha!
Upon taking the Alpha out of the box, we found a really rather smart car seat which is unmistakeably Phil & Teds in design; from the black and red colourway and quality fabrics down to the style of the seat.
This means it will fit beautifully with one of their pram systems, with the drawback being that there isn’t the same choice of funky patterns, colourways and contrasting shades you can find in its competitors.
The materials of the newborn insert, large sun canopy and shoulder pads are beautifully soft to touch, the seat itself is well-cushioned and there’s also an extra wedge cushion underneath for the early months.
How do you install the Phil & Teds Alpha?
There are three ways to fit the Alpha; with the seatbelt alone, with an ISOFIX base and with a universal base.
We were impressed by the price point of both the ISOFIX base and universal base, at £69 a pop, they are pretty reasonable compared to others on the market. We also tried fitting the Alpha with a seatbelt alone and found this worked well and, while we prefer the ease and security of the ISOFIX base, it’s good to know we can use the Alpha in other cars if we ever need to.
For parents who don’t have a car with ISOFIX there’s also the universal base available, which looks like it will do the same job in terms of both safety and speed.
Is it easy to install?
Yes, we used the ISOFIX base and found the step-by-step installation instructions quick and easy to use; I had it in the car and ready to use within fifteen minutes.
There’s also a Phil & Teds Youtube channel which has video instructions should you need. Day-to-day the car seat is literally placed onto the ISOFIX base until it clicks (with red signs which turn green for extra reassurance that it is in place) and off you go.
It’s almost too easy and several times I’ve found myself going back to double-check it really was secure! When taking the seat out of the car, you’re able to hold the handle with one hand and use the other to click a two-part latch out of the base really easily – great for the average harassed and in-a-hurry parent.
The Alpha looks smart and sleek and, for a car seat on the slim side, it has a lot of depth, which is great for a growing baby.
Although we did find that when my husband is driving, the back of the Alpha actually touches the back of his seat and he has to pull his seat forward in order to remove the Alpha from the car – something to consider if either you or your husband are particularly tall and you have a car on the small side!
How is it strapping your baby in?
The harness can be adjusted to four different points in the back of the seat, two in the crotch and two more in the width to ensure safety and comfort for the baby and it’s very simple to do – just don’t attempt it after a manicure or when in a hurry because it did prove a little stiff!
In terms of lengthening and adjusting the straps there’s a simple catch at the front of the seat which you push down to release more strap, then you can pull the excess strap down to tighten them. Of course, the straps do twist around in a frustrating fashion, but I haven’t come across a car seat which doesn’t do this yet…
Buyer’s guide for Group 0+ car seats
The Alpha is being sold as slimline seat, what do you think of its width?
At just 43.5cm wide the Alpha is a good fit for a small car, we found we can fit it alongside a high-backed booster seat and a small-to-medium sized adult in our Volkswagen Polo. It’s cosy, but it can be done.
Looking at some of its competitors, you’ve got the Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix at 45cm wide, the Cybex Aton Q at 44cm wide and the Cosatto Hold at 43cm – so we’re only talking millimetres here but we all know when fitting car seats that mere millimetres can make all the difference!
Inside, the Alpha still looks very spacious to me and our newborn, Nate, looks like he has just as much space as he did when we tried him in a friends’ Cybex Aton Q, and as our daughter did in her Primo Viaggio Mamas and Papas car seat five years ago.
Is the chair comfortable?
It really is. I loved placing Nate inside the Alpha for the first time, he looked so cosy and several friends remarked on how comfy he looked nestled into the thick newborn insert.
Although, by the time he turned eight-weeks-old we had to adjust the straps and remove both the insert and cushion, and it seemed a real shame to lose the insert so early on as it brought both comfort and colour to the seat.
The upside is that the seat is really rather deep without them with plenty of space for growth. Nate is now 12-weeks-old and still looks very comfortable and content, even without the extra cushioning.
The Alpha is a group 0+, do you think it will last 15 months?
Nate definitely has a good few months more growing time at least, and the seat is lovely and deep, although at the same time I do wonder whether he will still fit in it when he’s a toddling 15-month-old, only time will tell!
Comparing the Alpha to other group 0+ car seats in store it certainly looks every bit as deep and spacious.
Guide to child car seat laws and safety
Is it more comfortable than your previous car seats?
Yes, the newborn insert is particularly sumptuous and the fabric looks so soft against his skin, it even looked appealing to me on particularly sleep-deprived days.
It is possibly a little more comfy for a tiny baby than the Cybex Aton Q we tried, although once we had removed this I would say the seat is probably on a par with the Aton and its other competitors in terms of comfort.
Is it light to carry around?
As a parent who is regularly running late for the school run, I am often left with the only option of parking up and walking to the gates with the car seat in arms.
Not only is the ‘click and go’ style of the seat ideal for this but the handle has been ergonomically designed – with four different positions – to be taken in hand.
It means that, while obviously not as comfortable as, say, a Marc Jacobs handbag would be, this car seat is both light enough and compact enough to walk a fair distance with. Hallelujah in a hurry…
How easy is it to fit into a travel system?
If you own a Phil & Teds pram the Alpha really is a no-brainer, it’s designed to work well within all of their pram system designs.
However if, like us, you own a different buggy brand it’s worth noting that this seat is so new there aren’t any official adaptors on the market just yet.
We have a Bugaboo Bee Plus however and were advised that the Alpha works with the Bugaboo Maxi-Cosi adaptors, which solved the problem for us.
I love being able to click the Alpha into the frame of my Bee and Nate loves it because he’s higher up and can see more. If you’re unsure, it’s definitely worth contacting Phil & Teds to see if there’s a similar solution for your pram system.
Top 20 travel systems
How practical are the seat fabrics?
As mum to a reflux baby I was slightly worried to discover the seat liner is handwash only, although having queried whether I could use the handwash cycle on my washing machine the company explained that their washing recommendations are down to the vast number of different washing machines on the market.
So, if your machine has a handwash cycle, I suppose it depends on how much you trust it and how much you need it! I might chance mine on a cold, hand wash, gentle spin cycle if we have a particularly bad sick episode.
Is the product value for money?
The Alpha retails for £129 which sits it in the middle to high end of the market for group 0+ car seats and I think the quality of the fabrics, the insert and wedge cushion, varied harness positions and safety features all make it good value for money.
And, in this new age of having to fork out for bases and accessories, the ISOFIX base offers a huge saving compared to other brands. You could even buy an extra base for use in the second family car or a grandparents’ car, for the price of just one elsewhere.
What’s in the box?
- Phil & Teds Alpha Baby Car Seat 0+
- Newborn insert and wedge cushion
Any additional extras?
- Universal base for Alpha £69
- ISOfix base for Alpha £69
- Infant car seat covers set £25
- Shade stick stroller umbrella £24
Made for Mums Verdict:
The Phil & Teds Alpha offers a great solution to parents who really want their car seat to go the extra distance – not only does it sit beautifully and safely in the car but it’s easy to transport in hand and pram too.
It also lives up to everything you might expect from the Phil & Teds brand by working well alongside all your other parenting paraphernalia of pram system as well as other car seats an booster seats.
Although, if you don’t have a Phil & Teds system you will need to check whether it fits your pram and you won’t find a choice of funky patterns and colourways to choose from with this seat.