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Parenting brand Silver Cross has long been known for its brilliant and extensive range of pushchairs and now the company has extended its offerings by adding four new car seats to its range (which already includes the Simplicity and the Quantum). Together, these four new seats take children all the way from birth to 12 years.
The Balance is designed for children from approximately nine months to 12 years. It has two different configurations to be used from 9kg to 18kg, and from 15kg to 36kg, and plenty of great features. We love the extra plush comfortable padding, the integrated ISOFIX base and the handy, easy-to-use installation app which makes placing the seat in your car a doddle.
It’s similar in style and price to the likes of the Maxi-Cosi Titan Pro and the Britax Advansafix IV R, which are both Group 1/2/3 offerings on the market and both priced at £250.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Silver Cross is not necessarily a budget brand, and the Balance is definitely at the upper end of the price scale – setting you back £225.
Living in the country, Claire and her 15-month-old daughter rely heavily on car travel to get from A to B. Her toddler often sleeps while on the go, so a comfortable seat that doesn’t compromise on safety is a must.
What were your first impressions of the car seat?
On opening the box, I was struck by the fact the car seat was fairly large and bulky. However, I saw this as a major bonus, it felt strong, sturdy and certainly looked robust and safe for my daughter. I also immediately liked how plush and comfortable it appeared, with lots of padding and soft, luxury fabric. My daughter tends to nap a fair bit in the car and this looked as though it was going to be great for her.
What age is the Silver Cross Balance best suited for?
Silver Cross says the car seat is suitable for children weighing between 9kg and 36kg – this equates to children aged approximately nine months to 12 years. My daughter is 15 months old so it’s perfect. The only downside is it’s not rear-facing. Parents with much younger children might be put off investing in this car seat until they’re happy for their child to face forward.
In terms of longevity, I can see the car seat lasting a long time, and this is also the best part about the seat for an MFM reader and one of the parents we surveyed*. Silver Cross has certainly been clever with the design of the product – part of the padding can be removed as your child grows, and there are nine headrest positions to accommodate increasing heights. However, I’m dubious it will last until my daughter is 12 years old, although it is very roomy now, by the time she hits double figures it might be pushing it. I also feel she would prefer to sit in more of a booster-style seat by that age. Saying that, I can imagine the Balance will last a good few years though, making it a worthy investment.
How do you install the car seat?
The car seat has an integrated ISOFIX base and a top tether that goes over the top of the seat and attaches to a hook in your boot. For babies and toddlers up to 18kg, ISOFIX is needed for the car seat to be installed properly, but after 18kg your car seat belt can be used instead if you prefer.
Is it easy to install in the car?
In terms of the ISOFIX base and working out what to do with the harness and everything, the car seat is super easy to install – an opinion shared by an MFM reader, customers of John Lewis and Silver Cross, and parents we surveyed, with 57% scoring it 8/10 or more for easy installation. This may be due to Silver Cross’ unique Car Safety Made Simple app, which is incredibly simple to use and a really brilliant invention. You simply download the app, either by finding it on the Apple App Store or Google Play, or by scanning the QR code on the car seat.
You then need to choose the car seat model that you’ve got and follow the onscreen instructions. There are computer-generated images and audio commentary, which are easy to follow and gives you great peace of mind that you’ve secured the seat properly. Vehicle fitting lists, product registration and other helpful information can also be found within the app.
Without this handy tool, I think installation would be tricky. The pictures on the side of the car seat are fairly easy to understand, but I think I would have been scratching my head at some bits.
My only bugbear in terms of installation is with the top tether. In theory, I like this as a safety feature and think it’s a great addition to the car seat, but in practical terms, I found it quite fiddly to use. As much as I pulled the strap to tighten it once it was attached to the hook in my boot, I just couldn’t get the safety indicator on this fixing to turn green. My husband managed to do it, but it was still quite frustrating. An MFM reader also found it tricky the first few times.
Does the Silver Cross Balance feel securely installed once in place?
For me, as well as some John Lewis parents, the car seat felt really safe and secure once in my car. I’m a big fan of ISOFIX car seats, and this one does not disappoint.
Tell us about the harness.
The five-point harness is a great feature of the Silver Cross Balance. As with most car seats, it can be a little tricky to lock the two overlapping clasps in place – an opinion shared by a John Lewis parent. It isn’t something you can do one-handed in a rush, but I’ve come to expect that with most offerings on the market. Having said that, in our survey, 71% of parents scored strapping their child in a very satisfied 8/10 or more. There are two sets of easily removable padding on each strap, meaning it’s super comfortable for babies and toddlers, and I find the straps don’t twist as much as on other seats, which is a major bonus. The strap used to tighten the harness is also simple to use, although a little stiff at first.
Another nice idea is the fact there are buckle hooks on the side of the seat to keep the harness out of the way while you place your child into position.
Does the Silver Cross Balance feel sturdy and safe?
Because of its size and safety features, the car seat feels incredibly sturdy and safe. I love how robust the design is and how the plush padding gives extra support to my daughter.
Are there different seat positions?
The Silver Cross Balance has three different recline positions which I find really handy. We often travel places over nap time and I like to ensure my daughter is as comfortable as possible if sleeping. The seat is really easy to recline, you simply use the handle under the seat and move the whole thing up or down. The most horizontal position is ideal for napping on the go and was even one John Lewis parent’s reason for buying this seat!
However, it’s worth saying that those who are used to car seats that recline fully may be disappointed with the fact there’s not a huge difference between the upright position and the sleeping recline position.
Can you adjust the height/size of the seat as your child grows?
Silver Cross has obviously thought carefully about how to ensure longevity with this car seat and it’s been made so that it can easily grow as your child does. There are nine different head-rest positions, for example, as well as removable padding to allow for extra room. The five-point harness is also replaced by your car’s seat belt once your child reaches a certain weight too.
How do you pack away the harness once it’s no longer needed?
When your child reaches 18kg, it is recommended that the five-point harness is replaced with your own car seat belt. And what’s great about the Balance is you don’t need to remove or detach the harness straps. To store the harness away it needs to be fully loosened first.
You then lift the cover under the cushion and store the buckle parts in the compartment. The shoulder sections of the harness are stowed behind the flap on the back of the seat. This is all easy enough to do, but it’s a shame that there’s no audio commentary and visual instructions on how to do this in the app. I had to download the instruction manual to work it out.
How comfortable is the Silver Cross Balance for your child?
With its plush padding and soft, breathable fabric, the Balance car seat looks and feels super snug – a feeling shared by 85% of parents we surveyed, as well as John Lewis and Silver Cross parents, and an MFM reader. In fact, I often find myself wishing that this seat came in an adult-sized version!
The padded insert, which really ups the cosy factor while your toddler is still young is adjustable and removable, which means you can ensure your child is as comfortable as possible as they grow.
Tell us about the Silver Cross Balance’s main safety features.
There are plenty of great safety features with the Balance, not least the robustness of the seat itself and its extra padding. It has side impact protection for extra safety, a tether strap for an ultra-secure fit as well as indicator lights which clearly show whether it has been installed correctly.
What do you think of the size and weight of the car seat?
At 12.8kg, the car seat is pretty heavy and bulky, and it’s not the kind of seat you’d want to be constantly swapping from car to car. My husband and I are pretty tall, but if you were a bit shorter and quite slight, I can imagine you would find it quite cumbersome to move. On top of this, there isn’t a useful carry handle or any easy way of moving it.
Saying that, it is easy to install, which does make the prospect of moving it often slightly less daunting, and 57% of the parents we surveyed as well as John Lewis and Silver Cross customers felt that it was light enough for this.
Is the Silver Cross Balance easy to clean?
The fabric is thankfully really easy to wipe clean and the seat covers can also be removed and machine washed at 30 degrees. In our survey, 71% of parents were satisfied with how easy the seat is to keep clean.
What feature do you like most in the car seat?
This is a hard question to answer because there are so many great features, the fact the seat is so comfortable and well-padded is my favourite element. I’m really impressed with just how cosy it is and the quality of the padding. The integrated ISOFIX base and the easy-to-follow app are also fantastic in my opinion.
What do you think of the design?
Like John Lewis parents and some of the parents we surveyed, I love the design of the Balance. The actual base and construction of the seat is robust and hardy, and the plush fabrics make it feel really luxurious. The straps and harness work well and the padding really does make it extra comfortable. My daughter also really loves the fact the car seat is positioned quite high up in the car, and I like the fact it is easy to see her in my mirror. If I’m being really picky, I would say that the design could benefit from having a cup holder, but this isn’t a deal breaker.
What did you think of the fabric on the Silver Cross Balance?
The covers are made from soft natural bamboo fabrics, which have thermo-regulating properties to take moisture away from the skin, which is ideal for the warm weather and stops my daughter sweating so much during longer journeys. Bamboo fabric is also anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic, making it perfect for sensitive baby skin – another bonus.
Is it a stylish product?
Yes, the Balance is very stylish and well designed. I love the sleek black and grey colour combo and – like an MFM reader – the fact the fabric is so soft.
Is the Silver Cross Balance good value?
This is a fairly expensive option, but it does have a lot of great features which I and some John Lewis parents feel make it worth its cost and that it should last a good few years. Compared to some of the other cheaper car seats I have used (such as the Mothercare Madrid Combination car seat, priced at £100), the Silver Cross Balance feels much more robust and safe. The plush padding also takes the comfort up another level.
Where can I buy the Silver Cross Balance car seat?
It is available to buy at Silver Cross, Uber Kids and Kiddies Kingdom.
What’s in the box?
The car seat arrived fully assembled in the box.
It also came complete with some handy ISOFIX protectors, which are useful if you plan to store the car seat for a while and don’t want to damage the connectors.
Which type of family is the Silver Cross Balance best for?
This car seat would be well suited for all kinds of families, especially those that travel a lot or for long periods of time as the comfortable padding and multiple recline options are brilliant. It’s also ideal for those who are looking for a car seat with longevity too. I would say it’s not perhaps the best option for those who need to be constantly swapping the car seat between vehicles as it is quite bulky and heavy, although it is easy to install.
Would you recommend this car seat?
Yes, definitely. Safety is obviously a priority for Silver Cross and there are plenty of thoughtful touches which show the brand have really thought about the design. Although I keep talking about the padding and comfort levels, this really is a major selling point for me.
If you’re looking at a few similar options, such as the Britax Advansafix IV R and the Maxi-Cosi Titan Pro, choosing between the three is quite a tough choice. They all offer comfortable seating for children aged between 9 months and 12 years, and all seem to be robust and durable. I would say that both the Britax and Maxi-Cosi options are £25 more expensive than the Silver Cross option, making it slightly more affordable. I would also say that, looking at pictures, the padding and comfort levels of the Balance look superior to the Britax. On the other hand, the Maxi-Cosi does come with a cup holder which is a nice feature.
This is a fantastic, stylish car seat with plenty of great safety features and comfortable, plush padding to boot. It’s ideal if you travel in your car a lot and want somewhere cosy for your child while on the go. It’s also easy to install and the handy app makes this process even more straightforward. It is pretty pricey, but its high-end quality and super design make it well worth the investment. It’s also worth knowing that 85% of parents we surveyed said they would buy it again.
*MFM survey December 2019 of 564 users