It’s pretty well known now that extended rear facing is significantly safer for children up to at least 4 years old in the rare but serious event of a car crash. To put it in crude terms, it’s largely because children have giant heads in proportion to their bodies so the load on their necks’ in a crash can be way too much and cause ‘internal decapitation’ and paralyse your child. Pretty bloody scary stuff. It’s alright though because it’s extended rear facing car seats to the rescue!
My son is 4. When we were looking for his stage 1 car seat the options were dire. The seats were crazy expensive and weren’t coming out great in Which? independent safety testing, they were scoring worse than many of the forward facing seats. We thought why spend more on rear facing if it’s not even safer and bought him a Kiddi Guardian Pro 2. Unfortunately, we’ve since found out that there are some issues with the Which? independent safety tests. Namely that they don’t/can’t test load bearing on the test dummies necks. The test they do, if I’m to understand correctly, involves whether the test dummies’ head hits a target in the crash. Critics however say that the child’s neck could have been broken before this point. So the forward facing and rear facing seats are scoring the same on these neck tests even though they aren’t the same in reality. We’ve also since found out our car seat isn’t as safe as we thought, according to ‘the car seat experts’, which is frustrating as we bought it because we thought it was the safest.
But you know better, you do better so 4 years on we went to the market to see what options were available. I’m happy to report that there are a lot more options on the market than there was 4 years ago and you can now get a rear facing car seat cheaply. Seats range from the Joie Stages at £133 up to the Nuna Rebl at £392. We looked at a lot of seats and tried two seats out. The Concord Reverso (£287) (you can check out our review here) and the Cybex Sirona available for £375.
The Cybex Sirona is the one we ultimately stuck with. One of the big draws of this seat for us was the swivel function. You can turn the seat towards the door for getting your child in and out. Anyone who has struggled wrestling a resistant toddler into a car seat will know what a plus factor that is. It’s especially attractive if you are planning on having another pregnancy as it will make it much easier on your back and bump getting your toddler in and out the car. A draw back of this feature is that it is possible to forget to turn the seat back round, leaving your child facing the door and much less safe. A real risk for sleep deprived parents in a rush.
Another feature we really liked about the seat was you can turn it forward facing if you wanted/needed to, and it has an impact shield for this function. It scored highly in its forward facing tests by Which? If you did chose to turn it. Our daughter hates the car seat so we wanted the option just in case she didn’t grow out of the constant screaming and hyperventilating during car journeys. Fortunately she is getting a little better than she was, which is great as I’m really hoping to keep her rear facing to at least 4.
Whether rear- or forward-facing, the Cybex Sirona has an adjustable Linear Side-impact Protection system (L.S.P.) that increases the level of safety in case of a side-impact collision.
One of the drawbacks of the seat is that it does have a smaller shell than some of the other extended rear facing seats on the market. My kids are both little things never going above the dizzy heights of the 20th centile so we were comfortable with the suspected longevity of the seat. If you have a bigger kid though it might be something you want to bear in mind. In our video below, we show both my baby in the seat and my 4 year old so you can get an idea of the sizing of the seat long term.
Bar a crash, one of the biggest tests a car seat can face is the dreaded puke test and it appears Lena wanted to make sure that this review was a full and accurate one and fully christened the car seat with an epic vom fest. The covers came off easily, washed great and went back on easily. We were really impressed.
The seat seems comfortable. She’s certainly happier in it than her Maxi Cosy Pebble (affiliate link) and the Concord Reverso. It’s nice and padded and looks very stylish. They do some great colour combos that I would have loved to try but we went with black as we felt it would be more robust, because you know, kids! It’s easily to manipulate with one hand to swivel it round or recline it back for naps. Overall it’s a great seat, we are happy with our investment in it – it was Lena’s big present for her 1st birthday. We score it 8.5/10.
You can check out our video review of the Cybex Sirona and the Concord Reverso below:
Cybex Sirona video review
Corcord Reverso video review