Monday, 12 July 2010
Graco Nautilus group 1 - 2 - 3 car seat (Mum's review)
I recently applied to test one of Graco's new 3-in-1 Nautilus car seats and was over the moon to be selected as one of the 25 mummy-blogger reviewers. I hastily started doing my research online to see how it all worked and I'm really impressed with how versatile it is.
The whole idea is that it's a group 1 - 2 - 3 car seat that can be adapted to grow with your child so it will last from age 9 months right up to 11 years. That makes it really economical, as well as environmentally-friendly because you'll only need to buy one seat instead of three, thereby reducing landfill but also the resources needed to make them in the first place. But above all, it makes it a great time-saver, and that is probably the biggest advantage to parents because time is such a precious commodity when you have kids ! No more traipsing around the baby shops trying to decide which new car seat to buy now that your little one has moved on to the next weight/age range, not having a clue which models are best because so many new ones have been brought out since the last time you looked - one seat will see you through from toddlerhood to grumpy pre-teen !
The car seat arrives in a huge box (which can be recycled as a playhouse to keep the kids amused while you get to grips with it !) and feels quite weighty (8.86 Kg) but to me that's a good thing because it's reassuringly sturdy. It is quite large (50cm wide, 48cm long, 68/88cm high) compared to some other car seats, so if you have a small car, you might want to try it out at the shop to check it will fit on the back seat, especially if you have other car seats to fit in. We have a Renault Scenic so there was no problem at all.
The seat arrives in partly dismantled group 1 position so the first thing I did was sit down with the instruction book to work out how to change positions for the different groups. I then assembled it in group 1 position (for weight 9-18kg), which is what 1-year-old Pierre will be using, then took the built-in harness off for group 2 (15-36kg), which is ideal for 5-year-old Juliette and finally, took the whole back support off leaving just the booster seat for group 3 (22-36kg) which is perfect for 9-year-old Sophie. It was a bit fiddly at times working out which bits to push through which holes to disassemble it but this was a first attempt and it's unlikely that you'll actually need to switch through all three group positions within minutes as I did to roadtest it so it was a bit of an unfair test. The clicks when it fits into each new position are reassuring loud so you can tell it is a really robust, solidly-built piece of equipment.
The girls absolutely love it - comfort-wise, it's unbeatable and it looks amazingly posh. They call it the aeroplane seat (when they're not calling it the Naughty seat !). I'm very impressed with the clever little extras like the cupholder and the storage compartments on each side of the seat - it's so parent-friendly and child-friendly. (But more about that when the kids write their own guest-blogger reviews - watch this space !) I'm particularly impressed at how well-received it was by Sophie because, even if UK law states that children must be seated in a car seat or booster seat until they are 12 years of age, any parent of tweens knows that they often complain and think they are too old to do so.
When I saw that this was a car seat that covered the three age groups, I expected it to be really good for one group and acceptable for the two others, unconvinced that you could genuinely find a really high-quality car seat that would be so versatile. However, Graco have proved me wrong - even the group 3 booster seat is better than any of the others I've seen or used, because it is so comfortable, robust and offers the handy little gadgets like the cup holder that I've never seen on any other models. As a parent of three kids, one from each age group, I've been able to give it a thorough testing in all three set-ups but for day-to-day use, it will be reserved principally for one child, probably Pierre, and we won't be constantly adapting it from one position to the others. However, if you are a grandparent or a childminder, it's fantastic to be able to buy one car seat to cover all options, from baby right through to tweens.
I've mentioned the comfort and the handy built-in storage spaces but the most important thing is the safety aspect. As you'd expect from a company as serious and trusted as Graco, this is a high quality piece of safety equipment, offering side impact protection and a lock-off mechanism. The baby harness is brilliant because Pierre has not managed to undo the clasps once, however much he tries, and even Juliette, who is the master (or should that be mistress ?) of unbuckling herself mid-drive, hasn't managed to do so - especially as she has her toys and colouring pencils to hand in the cupholder so she's less inclined to get bored and try to escape ! The head rest also encourages uninterrupted sleep because it protects and supports your sleepy little one's head so they won't wake up because their head has just bounced off the window when you go round a particularly tight bend in the road ! The head support and recline handle are both really easy to adjust one-handed which is great for parents who constantly seem to be juggling a million baby and child-related objects ! And the biggest parent-friendly element has to be the fact that the cover comes right off and is machine washable - as a parent of kids who suffer from travel sickness, I can tell you how much you will appreciate that at times !
So it's great for kids, great for parents, great for safety, great for your pocket and for reducing landfill ... and it looks really funky too ! What more could we possibly ask for ?!
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £129.99