Our first task as part of the Generation Graco panel this week has been to quite literally road test the Milestone car seat. Now, there are many baby and child products on the market which over the past six years of parenting have left me wondering whether the designers and manufacturers have in fact ever met a child or baby, or more to the point, experienced life as a parent. Ridiculous products aside though, there are the complicated products that you never imagined could be so confusing to you as a parent. For me, nothing boggles or terrifies me quite as much as car seat shopping.
First off, let me say that I love shopping, especially for baby and child products. But car seats? I stared out on a positive note – buying a seat to bring my baby home in, hooray! – yet I had no idea of the minefield I was about to set foot in. I mean, it should be easy, right?
Wrong. As a parent in waiting, it seemed that there wasn’t a car seat for under the price of a washing machine – and it wasn’t going to last your little one longer than around ten months in my reckoning. They were tiny, bucket like things and so we just bought one that seemed to look like it would do the job, with some useless looking cushion that somehow maybe went behind your baby’s head. We chose a brand we thought reputable and we scuttled home, job done.
Then our baby grew. But had he grown enough? And in height or weight? Back to the store again, and more confusion. He wasn’t heavy enough to move up a car seat, but his legs were so long [just like mine, when I was a tiddler] that it looked just wrong and unsafe to keep him in the baby seat. When we were finally satisfied that he could safely be moved to the next car seat [after asking around ten different sales people], invested another £200 or thereabouts – and following this, we had the same dilemma about moving to the next seat, and went back to the previous dilemma with baby number two…and then three. It seemed like we were paying out £200 as fast as the banker in Monopoly.
Besides the money being ridiculous, I was never sure whether I was investing in the best seat for my children. I had absolutely no idea about car seat safety other than the normal – like strapping in safely and being careful not to travel with my boys wearing bulky Winter coats and so on. It seemed that there were cheaper car seats coming onto the market – yet I had no idea if they were as safe, or whether the seats we had previously been buying were just hugely overpriced.
I never figured that out, but I kept paying the higher prices in the hope that I was buying the safer seat.
This year I have the privilege of joining the Generation Graco panel. When we had all of that fun at London Zoo meeting the Graco team last month, not only did I get to test out some of their products – including their Milestone car seat, which we now are very lucky to have and be able to review, but I also got to speak to a car safety expert from the place that they do crash tests for car seat safety. Now I know. And now I wish the Milestone car seat had been around six years ago when I first became a mom, because I’d have felt reassured that my babies were in a very safe seat, and we all could have taken a holiday on the savings that would have been made through buying one Milestone car seat each.
THE MILESTONE CAR SEAT
The Milestone is a car seat which takes your child through from birth until 12, which is when UK law states that your little one is a big enough one to sit in a normal seatbelt – or if they are 135cm in height before that birthday. The seat begins life as a rear facing, group 0+ seat, changes to a forward facing, harness fitted group 1 seat and lasts your child until 12, as a group 2/3 high backed booster seat. The Milestone really does grow with your child, without a great deal of fuss, worry or expense. It retails at around £189 and is worth every. single. penny.
I’m going to tell you more about my experiences using the Milestone, but before you read further, if you are thinking of buying one [and you really should] please check that it fits your car first.
Also, there are so many things that are amazing about this car seat that I’m sure I’ll forget some, and if you’re thinking of investing – because it is a brilliant investment to make – then pop over to the Graco product page and have a thorough read for yourself. These are just my thoughts.
WHY IS IT SO SAFE?
We fitted the Milstone into our car with an adult seatbelt as it’s a Universal fit seat. I like that. I love the five point harness, the headrest that cushions my boys’ heads and prevents them from being thrown about – I had no idea that the most at risk part of a child’s body in a road traffic accident was the brain, which annoys me greatly when I think of the pathetic head supports that came with my baby seats – and that I had no idea how vital they were.
The seat has a steel reinforced frame and side impact protection, which combined with a 10 position headrest means that your little one is in a very secure environment when they’re strapped in correctly.
HOW DOES IT GROW?
Simply, easily – without fuss [or the need for help from your other half in my case]. I’d tried it at our get together and was so impressed – but secretly harboured the fear that once I got home, I’d be completely lost. Anything with an instruction manual sends me into panic. I think the rational, step-by-step part of my brain melted away in pregnancy and childbirth.
Anyhow, the red handle at the top of the seat is squeezed and lifted to take the seat to the next position – also lifting the position of the harnesses without the need for any frustrating rethreading in seconds. It’s that easy.
Now you know why it’s safe and how it works, here’s what we think of the Milestone.
that when your little one no longer needs the harness, it folds away and if you decide to use the car seat for a smaller person at some time, you aren’t hunting for whenever you put them, because they’re still there, just out of sight.
there are 2 reclining positions in front and rear facing mode for you to chose from according to the length of your journey.
the harness releases easily and smoothly – there’s no tug of war needed.
how you can remove the seat covers for washing without having to rethread the harness! This is fantastic news for anyone who has children like me that get crumbs and drinks and sweeties everywhere.
that a cup holder can be added – this means no more, “MOM! I need a drink!” callings from the backseat – and no more “Can you have this, Mom?” requests when they’ve had enough.
first and foremost that this had been invented six years ago.
secondly that there was an iPad holder for long journeys – that would be brilliant. I could pop Hero in the middle of the car and the other two could watch from the sides without arguing over who holds the iPad.