I loved our previous car seat, but when it hit social media headlines last year for performing poorly in German safety tests I was outraged. I had to find a better, SAFER car seat for our son. And quickly too. I chose the Recaro Zero.1, a group 0+/1 rear facing car seat with 360° spin function. The question is, 4 months later, do I love it or loathe it?
Safety was my prime concern. I had spent hours researching our previous seat before buying it and I didn’t wish to fall victim a second time to another report doubting its safety. To date, the Zero.1 has received high ratings across numerous crash tests, winning it’s group in the 2016 Stiftung Warentest with a score of 2.4. Although, this marks the Recaro Zero.1 as ‘Good’, it still puts it ahead of 16 alternative seats that my son will currently fit into and that’s plenty ‘good’ enough for me. (As a comparison, my previous, equally expensive car seat only scored 5.1 – Now you understand why I was desperate to have it changed.) The Zero.1 meets all the new i-Size regulations and can be used rear-facing until age 4 (providing your child is accepting of this – mine never made it to 2!)
Like many toddlers, Little O isn’t afraid to share his opinions, especially if he thinks I’ve had a bad idea. Pre-children, I’d always assumed that cars could easily be kept pristine by avoiding all kinds of food in the car. Simple, right? And then I actually had a child. Said child frequently insists that getting in the car is a ‘bad idea mummy’. Car is now awash with empty raisin boxes and squashed pieces of nakd bars; it appears bribery is the only way to coax a screaming 2 year old to ‘please bend your body’, when his mind is firm about keeping it rigid!
Having said that, the Recaro’s ability to rotate 360º certainly makes these moments much easier to handle. There are no awkward lifts into the car, I don’t have to squeeze myself between the seats in a vain attempt to get Little O buckled in, and my head can be spared from the usual bumps on the car’s roof. Even on a nightmare day, the spin function allows me to use my knee to hold the little wiggle-bottom in place, so I can use my hands to secure the 5-point safety harness!
The Zero.1 integrates Recaro’s HERO safety system. It’s intended to prevent the seat-belt from slipping or twisting to make buckling up easier. I do agree with Recaro that the harness is easy to do up and the seat-belt doesn’t get tangled, but call me Pinocchio if I try to tell you that the buckle has never got twisted. Just this past weekend, my husband was forced to referee from the front seat as the Recaro and I fought another battle of the twisted seat-belt. I won, of course, though not without getting a little frustrated first. Still, this is a war that I’ve engaged in with every car seat I’ve owned – I don’t think it’ll be over anytime soon and the battles with the Recaro Zero.1 are no more frequent than with any other manufacturer.
Thankfully, fitting and manoeuvring the Zero.1 is frustration free. It’s innovative design enables you to perform most operations one handed. And you really can. There are discreet levers on either side of the seat, which rotate the seat from forward facing to rear facing and every angle in-between. Plus, there are 5 different, (decent) recline positions in each direction. In the past, my son’s sleeping head has developed nodding dog syndrome, slumping forwards then backwards at every jolt in the road. With the Zero.1, his head seems well supported by the adjustable headrest; (sorry Churchill, there are no more nodding dogs here).
I must admit to being sceptical about the red and green safety indicators on the front of the seat, though… would they just annoy me, especially if I was in a hurry? As it turns out, I love them. The 4 little indicators clearly tell you if the seat is rotated and clicked securely into a forward facing or rear facing position, as well as if the supporting leg and Isofix is fitted correctly. I find taking a moment to have a quick glance at them before I drive away very reassuring. I also liked how the seat and base come as one component. Call me mad, but it tricks my mum mind into believing the unit is more robust.
Is it comfortable? Unless it’s nighttime, Little O has never had any trouble falling asleep. His naps are mostly consistent and I’ve learnt to plan my day around them. Until recently… Almost every journey over 30 minutes and he’s asleep. He’s 2 now, so no longer a newborn. Mr B. works very hard and looks forward to spending weekends together, you know, visiting places. Not sitting side-by-side inside the car for an hour or more, so that our son can finish off his nap. Seriously, our quality family time has been reduced to sitting in various car-parks, debating whose turn it is to dodge the rain and run to Nero. Before reminding each other not to slam the car door in case we wake his lordship. (A post nap grump is not worth the bother on family days!) So yes, if you asked Little O, I’m sure he’d say it was comfortable – you’d just have to wake him first.
All of the fabrics are labelled as breathable and the Zero.1 comes with a comfortable insert cushion, making it suitable for newborns and, I’m led to believe, premature babies too. As your child grows, the cushion can easily be removed and the head support adjusted into 5 different positions. Overall, the Recaro Zero.1 is a versatile seat that you can feel good about strapping your child into all the way from birth until they reach 4. That gives us 2 more years of life on the road with the Zero.1 and I’m happy to say that I love how secure that makes me feel.
The Fairytale Mum Rating:
The Fab Stuffs:
- Meets the latest i-Size regulations and can be rearward facing for up to 4 years.
- Good safety specs – Winner of its group in the 2016 Stiftung Warentest.
- 360º rotatable design enabling you to get a [cooperative] child in and out with ease.
- Intuitive one-handed touch for most functions.
- Cover is simple to remove, replace and is machine washable… a must for food bribers, like me.
- Integrated Isofix base and safety indicators show correct installation at a glance.
The Sad Stuffs:
- Retails from £399, so it’s not the cheapest. Our thoughts were that so long as we could it, we wouldn’t put a price on safety and peace of mind.
- The HERO safety system prevents the straps from tangling at the top, but doesn’t stop the buckle from twisting at the bottom.