| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Sitting ducklings

Thanks to clever advances in car seat design, the seatbelt-yanking installation frustration of yesteryear is a thing of the past

Infant car seats have come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Comprising a base, which you fix in your car and leave there, and an infant carrier that clips on, most models now use an Isofix or latch system to attach the base onto steel bars already in your car. You’ll need to check that your vehicle has these bars (look where the back of the seat joins the base) before buying a car seat.

Many, but not all, models still allow you to attach the base using the old-fashioned seatbelt method. Also, think about the brand of pushchair you have, as compatibility may influence your decision.

1 Graco Snugride

The base of this Graco is incredibly light, and the latches to attach it appear strong and sturdy. It also has three levels for the angle of your baby in the car, although you’ll have to take the seat off the base to adjust it. Using the seatbelt, this was stunningly simple to install, so a big thumbs up there. Where the Graco falls down is in the seat. Perhaps we tested a low-grade model, but given the minimal padding, ‘snug’ seems downright inappropriate.

Never mind the challenges of the fast lane on Sheikh Zayed Road, parents will wince just tootling over a speed bump at the thought of their precious newborn’s noggin bouncing off the hard plastic. Compatible with most Graco strollers.

Suitable for: 2.3kg to 10kg, less than 73cm
Dhs545 from Babyshop (04 341 0604)

2 Maxi Cosi Cabriofix with Easyfix base

Considered the mother of all car seats, this Maxi Cosi gets our applause for the sheer comfort factor it gives both parents and travelling tots. The Easyfix base (Isofix system) clips in simply and the handle wedges it on the floor of the car. A helpful green panel tells you if it’s fitted properly, so you’ll avoid those screechy ‘it’s still wobbly’ arguments that typify the early days of parenthood.

You can also install the base using the seatbelt – it’s simple to do – but Dhs1,155 is a lot to fork out if you’re not using the fancy functionality. Thoughtful inclusions on the seat include a removable padded cushion, handy for strapping teeny bubs in tightly while keeping their body straight, and a head support which comes off when no longer needed. Adjusting the straps is pretty clear cut too, and it has a neat and effective hideaway sun screen. The seat clips onto Quinny, Stokke and Bugaboo strollers (the latter two with adapters, bought separately), it’s lightweight and, to be frank, it looks the hippest of the lot.

Since researching this article, we’ve also noticed that babies in Maxi Cosi seats are, more often than not, fast asleep, so it’s obviously comfy. Available in bright, trendy fabrics, some users have said it’s a bit sticky in Dubai’s heat, but you can buy machine-washable summer covers. The only other downside to the whole contraption is the hefty price tag. But shop around; it’s stocked in various outlets in Dubai and prices can vary.

Suitable for: up to 13kg
Dhs1,845. Cabriofix chair Dhs 690; Easyfix base Dhs1,155; summer cover Dhs150 from JustKidding (04 341 3922) Also available at Toys R Us, BabyShop and Mothercare

3 Mothercare Meteor with Isofix base

A top-notch product from Mothercare, this own-brand car seat is solid and simple to install. Only for use with the Isofix system, it has an easy-clip back and a foot stand to wedge it to the floor. The seat itself is well padded, classy and sleek in design and comfortable for the little one, and moving the straps as your baby grows will not cause too big a headache. Compatible with some own-brand pushchairs, our only question is, with the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix and Easyfix base available for a lower total price in Mothercare stores, has the mother of all baby shops priced itself out of the market?

Suitable for: 2.3kg to 13kg
Dhs1,790: Meteor car seat Dhs825; Isofix base Dhs915 from Mothercare (04 295 9061)

4 Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP with latch base

Another smart number making use of a base and a seat, this one uses the latch system although you’ll need a bit of body weight to make sure the base is locked. Once you’ve done it, though, it’s there for good. A spirit level and easy adjustment lever ensure the base is level, then you simply clip on the car seat and off you go. You can also install the base using the seatbelt and a locking clip which keeps it firmly in place.

The breathable seat has impact protection designed to safeguard a child’s head and neck, and we love the back-of-seat control, which avoids the cursing and fiddling that usually goes with adjusting the shoulder straps. However, very young babies don’t always look comfortable, and once they start getting bigger, you’ll really notice the weightiness of this one. Not quite as neat-looking as the Maxi Cosi, it’s compatible with Peg Perego/Mamas & Papas strollers.

Suitable for: 2.3kg to 13kg
Dhs1,099 from Toys R Us (04 206 6552)

Note: Peg Perego is the parent of Mamas & Papas, which stocks an upgraded version of the SIP called the IP using the Isofix system. Apparently the seat is even more padded and more reclined, which would answer our concerns on the comfort front.
Dhs1,685. Dhs895 for the IP seat, Dhs790 for the Isofix base, available from Mamas & Papas (04 344 0981)

5 Safety First Laguna II

Unfortunately, the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true with car seats. One of the cheapest on the market, the Laguna II is, of course, preferable to having your newborn rolling around on the back seat, but only just. Another latch system seat, the clips feel like they wouldn’t stand half an hour with a persistent toddler, never mind a high-impact crash.

While the seatbelt option is pretty easy, you’re left wondering: ‘Is that it?’ It didn’t instill confidence safety-wise, and adjusting the shoulder straps requires the patience of a saint. The material already looks shabby and the less said about the horrendous colour combo the better. Cheap but certainly not cheerful, this is compatible with pushchairs of the same brand.

Suitable for: 2.3kg to 13kg
Dhs399 from Toys R Us (04 206 6552)

By Karen Iley
Time Out Dubai,

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