“ Manufacturer: Cosco „
When David was born he had a pink car seat, simply because we had been expecting another girl so were quite surprised when he came out a boy - the problem was his pink car seat (which looked very sweet when he was tiny) quickly lost its appeal when David began looking like the most boyish boy on the planet. This pink seat had been quite expensive so I didn't want to really just replace it because the colour didn't suit, but a stroke of luck meant I didn't have to as this Cosco seat was given to Mark by a friend who had only used it for a week in a hire car in Mexico after forgetting to take his own seat on holiday with him.
The Cosco brand is an American one and this seat is their equivalent of our Graco, being mid-priced but of reasonably high quality. It's not a brand that is widely available here in the UK, although you can usually find their products in smaller independent baby shops as well as on Gumtree (where there are several at the moment). Mark's friend paid $89 for this one around six months ago, but looking online the price has dropped significantly to $39 which is currently the equivalent of around £25.
The first thing I loved was the fact that the fabric matched the interior of my car perfectly, I have the seat pictured above which compliments the seats in my Golf but it's also available in pink, blue and a khaki finish. Obviously we didn't get a choice of colour, but even if we had I'd have still picked this one out not only to carry on the black and silver colour scheme of my car but also due to the fact that black just doesn't show the dirt up as much as lighter or brighter shades. The fleecy cover is easily removable by untying a few short elastics dotted around underneath the chair, and once it's been washed and dried (using a cool wash and air drying - no tumble dryers!) it's just as easy to fit again with no having to pull or stretch the cover into place or fiddling around with ties that just won't do up.
The five point harness keeps your baby safely in place while using the seat; this is adjustable through four different positions so this really should be the only car seat you need when you have your little one. It is, apparently, suitable for babies from 5lbs but personally I don't feel the support is there for such tiny babies despite the fact that this seat can be fitted as a rear facing car seat. David was already using a front facing seat when we received the Cosco Scenera seat so I can't tell you how well it works for smaller babies, but from around six or seven months old it's perfect. I like the harness as where it clips into place at David's groin each clip goes in separately, ensuring you can get baby in and out of the car with one hand even when he's playing up and really doesn't want to be any help at all. Once you've done this up there's an extra sliding clip that does up around the chest, this is a very useful addition to the seat in my opinion as it prevents David taking his arms out of the straps and also keeps him in one position even when he's in a particularly squirmy 'I wanna escape' mood. He's got no chance of undoing this himself even though I suspect he's being mentored from beyond the grave by Harry Houdini - it's easy enough for an adults fingers to grasp and release however, which is excellent news all round!
The seat is 100% suitable for UK seat belts and fitting was surprisingly simple in comparison to the previous couple of baby car seats I've used. You can't really go wrong as the seat belt will physically only fit in the correct way, the only issue I had was the once I had fitted the seat I was left with a lot of slack in the belt - I had to wait for Mark to get in from work so he could use brute force to remove this slack and ensure the seat was held strongly and securely to the car seat. Brute force worked a treat, although I'm sure there's an easier way! Talking of ease of fitting, adjusting the straps as your child grows is an equally simple process - it can be done without removing the seat as Cosco have incorporated a flap and 'toothed' mechanism at the front base of the seat, by simply sliding your fingers into this flap you can manipulate a small spring and this will allow you to pull the strap through to lengthen and shorten the harness.
Comfort wise this seat is fantastic. The padding doesn't feel particularly thick but (and obviously I ain't getting my fat booty into the seat to test this claim) the plastic seat itself is shaped nicely for comfort with curls and whirls exactly where you'd want them to be; it's pretty upright which is another reason I don't really recommend it for very young babies, but at nineteen months David enjoys being able to see around him and out of the car window so it's definitely suitable for the inquisitive toddler. He sleeps soundly in the seat if we happen to be out at nap time and as it's a fairly narrow seat the padded sides make a nice pillow for him as he slopes off to the side when sleep catches up with him. The Scenera is suitable for babies up to 40lbs and I can't see why David shouldn't be using this seat up to this maximum weight range, he's a big boy and still has plenty of room in the seat up to yet - I estimate we'll get at least another year out of it and possibly more, as he weighs 30lbs at the moment though I suppose it depends on how quickly he grows from this point on!
When we were first given the seat I was a little concerned about the safety standards, while the label reassured me that it meets federal and ASTM safety standards I was unsure as to how that translated to UK safety standards. As luck would have it, the following weekend our local community centre had ROSPA visiting and they would check parents had fitted their car seats properly - after explaining the situation he looked over the seat and assured me it was perfectly safe, although advised me to take off the removable cup holder as the fitting wasn't strong enough to prevent it becoming dislodged and hitting David in the face in the event of an accident. I did this happily as seemingly even babies in the US are super-sized and it was far too big to hold any of David's cups or bottle securely!
I can't fault this Cosco Scenera car seat at all - it's safe, very simple to adjust and maintain, David is comfortable in it and it looks great. What more can you ask for?
This car seat is simple and affordable, has it's advantages, but is let down in other areas
The first thing I noticed was the lightness of this car seat. I have had back trouble before but found this to be easy to install and I could walk afterwards - some of the other car seats we have used have led to anger and frustration and a visit to a chiropractor after getting it in. It also make it easier to transport between cars - and remove if you are looking to save fuel on longer trips with your youngster. We have one large car and another that is not so large, and it seems to fit in both with relative ease.
The reason for this lightness however is that there is no additional side impact protection or much padding (either for comfort or safety), but then my daughter didn't seem to mind this. In some car seats the baby is so far back/cocooned in padding, it cannot see anything around it, whereas she was happily pointing at trees and fields out of the window in this.
This convertible car seat faces rear and front with a rear-facing weight limit of 35lbs and a forward facing weight limit of 35lbs. It has four harness height slots which give a good range of heights as your little one grows (and boy do they grow fast), as well as three fastening positions. I found reversing it (or facing it forwards) to be fairly simple as well, with a quick turnover of the foot that it rests on. The straps were also fairly easy to change heights, although my wife did struggle at first with the slightly confusing instruction manual. There were also several loops and apparent 'slots' which we were unsure of and we ended up 'posting' some of the excess straps throught these to keep them out of the way. This is actually a good thing a my daughter used to like playing with the strap on her old car seat, which we weren't comfortable with.
I didn't particularly like the straps, they seemed to twist quite easily and require un-twisting at regular times. This can be annoying if you are just nipping to the shops.
The material is good, though I expect there will be several options available - my 16 month old tested it thoroughly with crisps, juice and ground in raisins, all of which came off with relative ease. I have only just got one, so cannot tell yet if it is durable, but it survived the slight tugging and pulling needed to get it into the car, so that's a good sign.
One other slight down side is that it didn't seem to stay recliend very well - this is frustrating, particularly if you are on a long journey and require your baby to sleep along the way, and was worse in the smaller car where there was less room. This may have been to do with the angle of the back seats, and their lack of firmness. In the larger car the seats have less 'give' and hence gave more support.
Overall I would recommend thisif you are on a tight budget, but would go for something more sturdier/padded if you can afford it