Alex is rapidly outgrowing his car seat. Technically it is usable until he is 13kg (he's around 9kg at the moment), but he's long for his age, and so his feet stick out from the end rather comedically. Add to this the fact that Alex + car seat = about half a ton, and it was becoming clear that it was time for a new car seat
Buying car seats is a tedious, expensive and time consuming activity. They come in roughly one million different flavours and each one has a subtly different set of features. In addition, buy the wrong sort and you're risking firing your child through the front windscreen in the event of an accident, so it's stressful too.
We were in need of a group 1 (9-18kg, or roughly 9 months to 4 years) seat. It also needed to be a seat that fitted into our car (a 207). If it happened to cost less than one major organ, that would be a bonus. Nicola, being far more organised/interested/caring/just-plain-better than me had scoped out our options on-line and found that a Britax Prince Forward Facing Group 1 Car Seat - Alex was likely to be our preferred choice. (Alex is the colour. It's not a personalised seat!) There was one in the local Halfords, at the same price as on-line. Result.
Come Monday (a day off, for reasons of hospital visits) we went round to check it out. It was great. Sort of. The very nice man in Halfords fitted the demo version for us. It didn't quite fit totally. You could use it half reclined (really pretty upright) or totally reclined, but not completely upright. And if you wanted to adjust the recline, you had to loosen then re-tighten the seatbelt each time. (Thus increasing the possibility of getting it wrong at some point or worse, waking up a snoozing Alex whilst doing it!)
"Would you perhaps be interested in the newer version?" the man asked. "It's got added side impact protection..." he tailed off, leaving the clear implication that we were bad parents to skimp on Alex's safety for the sake of £40. (Despite the fact that all car seats have to meet stringent safety regulations.) We looked unconvinced.
"Plus, you can adjust the reclining without undoing the car seat."
Maybe we could just take a look...
So out comes the Britax Eclipse Forward Facing Group 1 Car Seat - Jet.Which fits much better. And is comfier looking. And has "added side impact protection". And you can adjust without faff. And costs almost as much again.
The nice man takes the previous one inside. Nic and I quickly confer. We decide that the ability to adjust the reclining quickly without waking Alex is almost certainly worth £40. (We couldn't give a stuff about the "added side impact protection".) But is it a decent price? A quick check of the internet (what did we do without mobile browsing I wonder) reveals that we could save £5-10 on it, but we'd have to fit it ourselves. And probably collect it from Livingston, knowing our luck with couriers. We decide to go for it. The nice man fits our brand new car seat.
Alex doesn't get to ride home in it though. We're not sure if he's actually big enough! We haven't weighed him in a while, so our estimate of 9kg is just that, an estimate. Nicola is going to take him along to the clinic on Thursday and see if he's big enough to go in his new seat. If so, forward facing adventures here we come!
(Oh, and Nicola pointed out that the sight of two child seats side-by-side was enough to put her off having a second for a while yet!)