I spent ages researching prams while I was pregnant. I took almost the same amount of time researching breast pumps and baby bottles. But the car seat that we took Rory home from hospital in was a hand-me-down. It was given to me in very good condition and it was a well known brand so I didn’t question it. I know other people get a car seat in a set that comes with their pram, without researching how safe and comfortable it is.
For us, comfort was what prompted thoughts that we could do better.
For some reason, Rory always looked hunched up in his old seat with his neck at a funny angle. Because of this, I limited time we spent in the car. Although I have a car at my disposal, I’d leave it in the street and take the train or the bus with the pram to avoid putting Rory into the uncomfortable car seat. Then I was invited to the launch of the Diono Radian 5 at The London Transport Museum and something clicked in my head – there was an alternative to taking the train rather than the car all the time. If I got a more comfortable car seat then Rory would like the car more and I’d feel better about travelling with him. I mean, look at how comfortable he looked on his first ‘road-trip’:
But have you ever spent any time thinking about the safety of your car seat? At the launch of the Radian 5, we were shown a video of a crash with the effect on a front facing car-seat and a rear-facing car seat. The difference was shocking! Rear facing car seats are a lot safer and the Diono Radian 5 can be rear-facing for children up to 25kg (approx. 7 years of age), unlike most other car seats that only allow babies and toddlers to face backwards. But what I liked most was the side protection that the Diono Radian 5 offers, with a full steel frame.
Apparently, the Diono Radian 5 is the only car seat to have a full steel frame. I like this because I had a few near misses (pre-baby) while driving in London with taxis almost going into the side of me as I changed lanes or fought to get in the right lane at a roundabout. Post-baby, I’ve driven a lot more cautiously but I’m still terrified that someone will drive into my side. That fear doesn’t end entirely with the Radian 5, but it does make me feel a bit better that I’ve made Rory as safe as possible.
Other pros of the Radian 5 are a 5 point harness for longer (between 9kg and 25kg) when children are forward facing, straight sides and EPP foam to keep children fully protected from head to hip as EPP foam is the most advanced material for absorbing crash forces, memory foam and soft fabrics to ensure it’s ultra comfortable, and space for up to four cup holders so kids can have easy access to drinks, snacks and crayons – everything they need for a long journey. Oh, and it comes in three colours (black, lagoon and plum) to match the colour of your car!
Armed with all this knowledge, we couldn’t possibly continue to use our old car seat once we knew that the Radian 5 was better. We took it out, remembering the argument we had over the struggle to install it and my fiances insistence that he didn’t need to read any instructions, and our first task was to install the Diono.
I have to admit, the size makes it look terrifying to install. Would it fit? And also, where does the seatbelt go? This time, I read up on the instructions as I wanted to play a hands-on role in installing it. What really helped me was watching this video:
Obviously, this video makes it look easier than it is, but I found the key was to take each stage as it came without thinking too far ahead. I’m a maths geek (I studied it at Bristol University) because I love problem solving and I treated the car-seat installation as a problem that I knew I could ‘win’. Once I’d put the seat itself together, the hardest part was to get the car seatbelt underneath and through the base of the Diono because it has a narrow gap to get the seatbelt through. I haven’t got the most delicate or small hands in the world, but my fiancé fed the seatbelt into the hole of the seat and I wiggled my hands through and managed to grab it and pull it through to the other side. That was my proudest moment! It goes through nicely now as you can see by the bottom right of the photo below (please excuse the messy car!)
Through all this, the baby was unaware of the effort mum and dad were going through to build his carriage, as he was being looked after by Grandma. Once he was brought out and put in the seat, he looked absoulely tiny in it, but didn’t seem at all crunched up.
The real test came the following day when we had to travel to Preston for my cousin’s wedding. Preston is 200 miles from London and we were travelling on a Friday so we’d have a night to settle in before the wedding on the Saturday. In hindsight, this was a bad idea as a lot of other people were traveling North on that Friday. Blissfully optimistic, we set off at 11am and stopped at a service station north of Watford Gap at 1pm (I dont remember which one it was, I just remember that we travelled past Watford Gap). Rory was fast asleep, so I picked him up and we had a little walk, a nappy change and a feed and he went back in the seat. I expected him to moan a bit when he went back in the seat as he used to cry every time he was strapped into his old car seat, but he sat down quietly. This might be because my mum was sat next to him and entertaining him while he’s usually on his own in the back if myself or my fiance is driving. Either way, it worked. No tears after the first stop at a services was a huge WIN!
We started to hit traffic at 330pm, so pulled into Sandbach services in Cheshire for a much needed coffee and to give Rory a chance to stretch and eat. This time, he wasn’t over the moon about going back in the seat as he’d been in there a long time, but he did fall asleep when the car started moving, However, movement was the issue here as by 4pm people had cleary clocked off work. The M6 was like a carpark – nothing was moving very fast at all. We were in second gear for the main part of the next two hours and if we weren’t in second gear, we were stationary. Rory was not amused!
As the traffic grew worse, he cried louder and louder. However, I could see that he wasn’t crying because he was in pain, he was crying because he was bored. When we’re at home, he loves reading and so I pulled a couple of books out of my bag and started to read loudly (so that I could be heard over his cries). Sure enough, he started to settle and started to look at the pictures in the book, rather than look straight ahead of him at the back of the seat which wasn’t moving, After the book, we sang some of his favourite nursery rhymes, then I tickled him and then we read the same books again. As long as I came up with new entertainment, he stayed quiet. That to me is a success, because he wouldn’t have been so willing to be entertained if he was in any discomfort in his seat.
The next time we put him in the seat, I was worried that he might have been affected by the long journey and associate the car seat with boredom but clearly his memory skills are not as advanced as that. He sat bravely in his seat – without tears – for the drive to the Church the next day and for the drive from the Church to the reception.
Now I can’t imagine putting him in anything else. I’m so glad I took time to learn about car seats. He looks so well protected in it, with the infant support helping him sit in a comfortable position:
What car seat are you using? Are you happy with it? Tweet @babyvipsblog or send babyvipsblog an Instagram message. We LOVE hearing from everyone!
PS For more information about the Radian 5 (as I’m sure I’ve missed some amazing features), check out the Diono website.