How much? Maxi Cosi CabrioFix RRP £125: Maxi Cosi EasyBase 2 RRP £90
Where? Available from all authorised Maxi Cosi retailers
As I mentioned before, my carseat of choice was the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix (Tango Red) to be used with the Maxi Cosi EasyBase 2 since my little car doesn't have IsoFix points.
Along with the carseat I was lucky enough to be able to get the matching footmuff (RRP £40) the raincover (RRP £12) and Ecru summer cover (RRP £20).
As my due date approached, Hubby went out to my little car with the EasyBase 2 and within ten minutes he was back again having successfully fitted it into the car using the three point seatbelt and positioned it, at my direction, behind the passenger seat. It did mean moving the front passenger seat forward slightly, but then Hubby always used to have it pushed as far back as possible, so he was still comfortable enough with the change. He again marvelled at how easy it had been to install, though he insisted I went to the car and confirmed he had fitted it correctly! Indeed he had; again without instructions and with no previous experience of the EasyBase 2. (Always check though - did you know a staggering 80% of carseats fitted with a seatbelt are fitted incorrectly, and in the event of an impact it’s as useful as a chocolate teapot if it isn't fitted properly!)
Wow. How easy it made things - after watching parents struggling with babies and carseats and seatbelts before I had The Boy, it was one of the aspects of having a baby I really wasn't looking forward to (aside from the actual labour, obviously!), but the base made all the difference. Once the base is fitted in the car, it’s just a case of 'clicking' the carseat in and out - and the Maxi Cosi Pebble can also be fitted with an EasyBase 2 as well, in case your car doesn't have IsoFix or if the IsoFix connections are not approved. (Always check your vehicle before you buy a base or carseat that uses IsoFix, go to the carseat fitting list to check it's suitable before you part with your cash) Being able to remove the CabrioFix so easily meant I could get The Boy all set before we left the house, in his carseat & harnessed safely, then walk to the car carrying him in it and clicking the seat into the base in one simple movement before we set off. There are no additional belts to do up once the base is fitted; You just click the carseat onto the base and an indicator window either side of the base will change from red to green when the seat is correctly in place - lovely and simple, as well as reassuring that it’s done properly. As the Mura comes with the adaptors you need to use it with the CabrioFix or Pebble carseat, I could also have taken the Mura chassis in the boot when I went out and popped the carseat onto it when we reached our destination, but I didn't (I have a Quinny Zapp for my car boot, which I'll write more about later!)
As the cold winter came, I started using the CabrioFix with the matching footmuff - the footmuff sits in the carseat and the harness comes through it, so you don't have to mess about trying to get baby into the footmuff and then into the carseat, you set it all up, pop the baby in and do up the harness, then zip up the footmuff and you're ready to go. Again, its simplicity and it’s so handy - but one word of warning, the footmuff is so good that you need to be careful baby doesn't get too toasty! Remember when you're in the car on a cold day nine times out of ten you'll have the heating on - in the back of the car, baby in a footmuff is like you driving along wrapped in a thick duvet, so keep that in mind and don't let baby get too hot. Whenever I went out with The Boy using his footmuff, I kept what he wore simply to what he'd been wearing indoors - a vest and a sleepsuit most of the time - as additional clothing would have just been too much.
The Boy was four months old when I removed the lumbar support from the CabrioFix - this little wedge shaped piece of foam comes out of an envelope of fabric at the tail end of the headhugger in the carseat, so it can be removed before the headhugger, which was necessary in our case as The Boy is so long. The lumbar support provides a newborn baby with a more lie-flat position for travelling, as well as valuable cushioning around the vulnerable lumbar region when they are very little. When he was five months old, I moved the harness up from the lower down hole to the higher up hole to provide him with more space, but still left the headhugger in the carseat to provide him with optimum protection. The handy thing with this carseat is that you have both sets of holes in the headhugger too, so moving the harness up doesn't mean you have to stop using the headhugger, and if necessary you can put the harness through the top holes of the carseat and the bottom holes of the headhugger to get even more use out of it. Remember the spine and neck of a young baby is even more vulnerable than an adult, and it’s imperative that they're properly protected in case of an impact. It’s for this very reason that rear facing carseats are safest for such young children.
The Boy was seven months old before I removed the headhugger altogether; By that age he was sitting up well, had good neck and spinal strength, and I was satisfied that as he was still rear facing, in the event of an accident he'd be strong enough not to be killed or seriously injured by the impact. Considering that the guidelines estimate a child will be about 6 months old when the headhugger is removed, and most parents remove it up to three months before that, I can only think that some parents simply don't think of the consequences if there were to be an accident with the child so unprotected. The most common reason for removing the headhugger is that the baby looks squashed; Baby came out of a much smaller space, and if you hadn't noticed they tend to curl up anyway in a position that seems uncomfortable to you and me, but they're absolutely fine and comfortable. (They'd soon holler if they weren't comfy, let’s face it!)
I stopped using the footmuff when the weather was warm enough for me to drive without the heating on; If The Boy was wearing a jacket he was fine. With the early heatwave of this year though I did find that he started getting too hot, even just dressed in a sleepsuit, as the fabric of the carseat is a manmade fibre mix and the fire resistant coating unfortunately gives it a bit of a plastic feel, so it does get pretty sweaty in there, especially as The Boy was getting bigger. I started using the summer cover, and found it helped greatly, so its well worth getting one if you find your baby or child gets too hot in the carseat. The summer cover is 100% brushed cotton (like a towelling nappy) so its breathable and it pops on over the carseat easily; Even though I had the Ecru colour (which is cream to you and me!) I thought I'd have issues with it getting grubby, which it didn't, too badly (but then The Boy doesn't eat in his carseat) but a couple of times I did remove it and stick it through the washing machine (maximum 3o degrees, delicate cycle) and pegged it out to dry on the line. It was dry really quickly, so it was never an issue.
The CabrioFix carseat is suitable for use up until baby reaches 13kg, and as I said previously its safest for baby to continue to travel rear facing for as long as possible. However, The Boy is a tall and broad little man, and even before he reached 13kg he was too big for the seat. A guideline is that the harness should be no more than an inch above or below the level of the shoulders, and at 9 months old the harness was more than an inch below his shoulders, so I had to find an alternative. Realising that keeping him rear facing for as long as possible is the safest option, I decided to go for a Maxi Cosi Opal, which is a cross-over Group 0+ and Group 1 carseat - until he reaches 13kg he remains rear facing, once he reaches that weight the seat goes forward facing.
So now the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix and the EasyBase 2 are all packed away safely for use again for The Boy's siblings, if and when they arrive. Another thing worth mentioning is that its not recommended you store items like that in the loft or garage; Due to the nature of the plastics and polystyrenes that make these items perform as you would expect in the event of an impact, storing them in an area where they are subjected to serious temperature change such as a loft or garage can accelerate the ageing process of them, and even if they're re-used within the five year lifetime there is a risk that in the event of an accident they won't protect the occupant as they should. And that’s another interesting point: Did you realise that carseats and carseat bases should be replaced once they reach five years old? This is due to the natural degradation of the materials used to make them - as with any plastic based item it can become brittle and could get hairline fractures which could then cause it to shatter in the event of an accident. Even if you only used the product for 12 months and packed it away for use, if it isn't used by the time it reaches five years old it should be safely broken down and discarded so it can't be used. It’s recommended that the harness is cut out, that the fabrics are stripped, the polystyrenes broken down and this will leave you with the basic plastic shell. You should then contact your local recycling centre to see which components they can recycle and what should be thrown in the normal rubbish.
I give the CabrioFix and EasyBase 2 a four out of five - to only be improved upon by the development of fabrics which make little one less sweaty!