With the increase in research relating to the negative effects of extended use of infant carriers and more upright positions in some baby car seats, parents have become more aware of the benefits of lie-flat car seats.
The major issue with rear-facing in a flat or reclined angle is the reduction in the safety/performance compared to a more upright position. This is the challenge for the designers and engineers of infant carriers. Fortunately, advances in car seat technology have led to some fantastic options for parents that balances the crash performance with the comfort and requirements of a newborn baby.
So what are the lie flat options?
There are a few options for all with their own benefits and considerations. Like with all products there isn't the perfect option for all parents, but hopefully, this little guide will help to clarify your options. Of course, you can contact us directly to discuss your particular requirements.
Lie Flat Carrycots
This option has been around for a while, but only relativity recently the safety and performance has improved. This option gives a completely flat position and is usually positioned horizontally across the three rear seats. Most will be installed with the vehicle seat belts from positions 2 and 4 or behind the driver and behind the passenger. Recently there has been a range of lie-flat carrycots which offer Isofix installation. This includes the Jane Matrix Light 2 the new Maxi-Cosi Jade carrycot which works on the updated 3Wayfix Base. The Matrix and Transporter from Jane are both approved to the current R44/04 regulation whereas the new Maxi-Cosi Jade carrycot is approved to the new R129 regulations offering improved side impact protection.
In addition to the lie-flat traveling position, the benefit of these carrycot/infant carriers is that they can also be used as a carrycot on a compatible chassis. Often parents will need to use a carrycot with their chosen pram so why not one you can use in the car too?
The disadvantages of this type of lie-flat car seat are
Amount of space it takes up in the car. As discussed this will need to sit across the rear of the vehicle, so carrying any other passengers in the car will be an issue.
Weight. These options will be considerably heavier than conventional baby car seats. Particularly as your baby grows and its weight increases. Some parents may find lifting the seat in and out of a vehicle particularly difficult.
Limited use. Depending on the model you may have a relatively short life span. Some may only be up to 6 to 9 months. This may mean buying an additional infant carrier for a few months to bridge the gap until the child is ready for his or her next car seat. It's important to check the specification of the seat before purchase.
Lie Flat Rear Facing Car Seat
This is the most popular lie-flat option for parents of newborns. These offer a more compact footprint in the vehicle allowing for the remaining rear seats to be used. This type of baby car seat was originated by Kiddy with their Evo Luna range. Recently Joie has launched a more affordable option called the i-Level.
These reclining car seats for newborns offer multiple recline positions. When the baby is a newborn you can set a reclined position offering the infant the best position to help maintain blood oxygen levels. As their respiratory develops the seat angle can be inclined to give a better crash performance.
The main disadvantage of this type of lie-flat car seat is similar to the carrycot option.
Amount of space it takes up in the car. Although the seat is only sitting in one car seat location the depth of the seat is greater than a regular infant carrier. This could be an issue in smaller vehicles or if parents are taller and require more legroom.
Weight. Due to the additional recline mechanisms, these seats are heavier than standard alternative baby car seats.
Isofix installation. With some of these lie-flat seats to take advantage of the recline position requires an Isofix base. So could not be compatible with older vehicles or vehicles with under-floor storage.
Other Lie Flat Options
Many other non-reclining infant carriers offer a good reclined position for newborns. Take a look at either the Britax BabySafe i-Size which features an internal recline mechanism or any of the Cybex range which features an internal folding fabric cushion which helps reduce the internal angle for the child.
It's also worth pointing out that the angle of the vehicle seat will play an important part in the overall angle of the infant carrier. Even the best infant carriers can be quite upright in the wrong sort of vehicle. It's worth taking a look at your vehicle before baby is born and if possible looking to change the vehicle to a more baby car seat-friendly car.