My toddlers are out of their infant car seats soon, what seats are next?
In today’s Car Seat Chronicles, Elise discusses Megan’s restraint options and personalises a progression plan for her 12.5-month-old twins, Alia and Xavier. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, read further to find out Elise's recommendations. Alternatively, you may listen to the podcast below.
At twelve and a half months old, Megan noticed that Alia and Xavier are about to outgrow their Nuna Pipa car seats and wonders what their next seats are. Megan and her family don’t have a car in Singapore and they get around by taxis/GrabCar. She loves the kids’ current car seats because they’re rear-facing, lightweight and compatible with their Silvercross Wave Tandem stroller and thus is looking for car seats that are just as portable and convenient. While it is not necessary, Megan feels like it’s an additional plus point if their new car seats are travel-friendly and American-certified.
Hey Megan, I hope you’re doing well! Thank you very much for filling out the checklist and sending the pictures of Alia and Xavier in their car seats. Before we start, I’ve taken some snapshots of the Pipa manual for you and I’ll refer them throughout this article. Most car seats follow standard trends but we always check the manual of every car seat to ensure that we’re giving you specific and not just general advice.
Megan's lovely twins, Xavier and Alia in their Nuna Pipa.
According to the manual (refer to image above), you can keep using the Pipa until the kids are fourteen and a half kilos, or until there is less than an inch between the top of their head and the top of the car seat. This is typical of American car seats, and European car seats, on the other hand, can keep children in them until their head is completely aligned to the top of the car seat.
"Their heads are currently less than three fingers from the top of the carrier."
I can’t see the top of the car seat in Alia’s and Xavier’s photos but judging from your other image, there’s about three fingers from the top of the carrier to the top of the car seat and I reckon you’ve got six months more out of them. That’s really awesome! I encourage you to keep using these car seats since you love how they fit into your current Silvercross Wave Tandem. Moreover, whatever car seats you choose next, it’s likely not going to be as convenient for you and it’s also not going to be compatible with your stroller (which is not compatible with any toddler car seat). Hence from a convenience perspective, I suggest you might want to squeeze everything you can out of the Pipa!
Before I delve into your car seat options, there’s one thing I want to highlight to you, and that is American seat belts are very different from their European counterparts. American car seats are not naturally compatible with the seat belts here in Singapore, so you’ll notice that the Pipa manual is a little vague on that point, because it’s designed for the American market. The American Pipa isn’t exported under Nuna’s jurisdiction, though Amazon or somebody might export it but Nuna doesn’t get a say in that, and thus the manufacturer hasn’t gone to pains to explain the difference between American and European seat belts. I’ll briefly break it down for you (but you can read more on the differences generally between Euro and US car seats in our other article):
American seat belts have two modes, namely normal mode and child restraint mode. They’ve a switchable retractor which allows you to switch from normal mode to child restraint mode. In normal mode, the seatbelt will move freely when the adult moves and it will only retract and lock in the event of an accident. This is also known as the Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) mode. On the other hand, in the child restraint mode, the seatbelt is permanently locked around the car seat regardless of whether the car is in an accident or when the driver has stepped on the brake. In other words, if you were in a US car, you’d gently pull the seatbelt all the way to the very end so that you’ve heaps of seatbelt and then when you feed the seatbelt back into the retractor, you’ll notice that the seatbelt will no longer let you pull it out. The purpose of the child restraint mode is to provide pre-crash locking for an American car seat.
Conversely, European seat belts don’t have the aforementioned modes; they only have the ELR mode where the seatbelt locks only during an accident or when the brakes are applied abruptly. Thus, European car seats are designed differently; they achieve pre-crash locking with different methods— by using up as much of the seatbelt as possible and introducing as much friction as possible into the system as well.
If you refer to your manual (ref: image above), it clearly states “if you cannot lock your seatbelt, you must use the locking clip provided”, which you can’t in a Singaporean taxi or GrabCar. This can be a little problematic because the locking clip that came with the Pipa car seat is of an old design because America hasn’t had to improve and develop locking clips since 1996, when all cars in the US were mandated to have the switchable seat belts that can move into child restraint modes.
Furthermore, if you look at the Pipa manual (ref: image above), you’ll notice that the Nuna locking clip works by clamping the two seat belts together, which interferes and competes with the seatbelt retractor and this may compromise the inherent safety features of the vehicle. These traditional locking clips take a long time to install, and even certified car seat technicians have a difficult time installing the clip correctly. Thus, it’s very unlikely—statistically—that parents will get it right each time.
On the other hand, Australia has had to develop a new locking clip technology, which we stock in our warehouse. It’s a taxi-friendly Australian locking clip that works much better than a traditional locking clip; it’s much faster and easier to use. Our red locking clip doesn’t lock the belts together, it simply clamps onto the shoulder belt on the outside of the buckle and prevents the lap belt from getting any longer, providing pre-crash locking. However, during an accident, the red locking clip moves itself away from the buckle and thus it’s not interfering or interacting with the inherent safety features of the car. Hence, I’d encourage you to consider the taxi-friendly locking clip if you decided that you’ll keep using the Pipa car seats, because you’re not using them according to the manual at the moment. This could be quite dangerous because the car seats don’t have the pre-crash locking mechanism that they’re designed to have.
If you’re looking for an American toddler car seat that is taxi-friendly and rear-facing, there’s only one option for you: the Cosco Scenera NEXT. You can pick it up from Walmart if you happen to be heading back to the US in the next six months because they sell them under-cost there and it’s an absolute bargain. We’re planning to have a sale on the Cosco once the circuit breaker is lifted and it’ll be quite a good sale on them so check our social media for updates! The Cosco weighs three kilos, which is probably lighter than or similar to your Pipa. We include the locking clip for free when you get it from us, but if you get it elsewhere you’ll have to buy the locking clip from us separately. The Cosco is compatible with a lot of prams but not your Silvercross Wave Tandem pram, unfortunately. However, if you’re thinking of getting a travel pram, I’ll recommend the Mountain Buggy nano/nano duo. The Cosco is compatible with both the nano and nano duo pram. Alternatively, you can hop over to our #strollerhacks database to see how parents have attached their Cosco car seats to a variety of prams. We call them “hacks” because they’re not officially compatible with the Cosco car seat unlike the Mountain Buggy prams that I’ve mentioned.
An alternative car seat that you can consider is the American-approved WAYB Pico car seat. We’ve been talking to WAYB about brining the Pico to Singapore, so we should have that in the next six months or so. It’s about twice the price of the Cosco, it doesn’t come with a locking clip (yet) and most importantly, it’s a forward-facing car seat. It won’t be as convenient to install, it’s a little bit heavier than the Cosco as well. I reckon one of the biggest difference between the Cosco and Pico, aside from those I’ve mentioned, is the Cosco allows you to buckle your kids into their car seats before your ride arrives. All you’ll have to do is to transfer the entire bundle into the vehicle, install and you’re off to your destination. On the other hand, with the WAYB Pico you’d have to first have the kids in their pram and install the car seats into the car first before you can buckle them in. Since you’ve to get around with two kids in two, it’ll increase you loading time significantly. BUT having said all that the Pico is a super super cool car seat and worth a gander.
Have a look at the Cosco Scenera NEXT and the WAYB Pico and let me know if you’ve any questions, especially regarding the installation of your Nuna Pipa once you start using the locking clip. Before we end, I’d like to highlight that it’s a lot safer to use the European belt path with your Nuna seat (refer to option two in your manual, image below), where you place the shoulder belt behind the back of the car seat through the blue shoulder belt guide. It’d be safer if you use our red locking clip plus option two because it helps to reduce the amount of down-ward rotation in an accident. Conversely, if you use the Nuna locking clip, you’ll have to use option one and it won’t allow the shoulder belt to go behind the car seat. Okay, I’ve flooded you with a lot of information, take some time to digest them and feel free to ping me if you’ve got any questions! Talk to you soon, bye! xx Elise
Megan's reply: "Elise, this has been so helpful! Thank you for the detailed explanations. We'll buy the taxi-friendly locking clips and use those with the Nunas until we need to move onto the Cosco. You're immensely helpful, your responses are thorough and well-researched. I feel fortunate to have Taxi Baby's help."
- Age: 12.5 months
- Height: 75cm
- Weight: 9kg
- Seated height: 45cm
- Seated shoulder height: 27cm
- Torso length: 23cm
- Age: 12.5 months
- Height: 75cm
- Weight: 9kg
- Seated height: 47cm
- Seated shoulder height: 29cm
- Torso length: 25cm
Below is a guide to the above measurements: