Republic Act 11229, or the “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act,” aims to improve the level of safety for infants and children aboard motor vehicles. This means that having kids sit on your lap inside a car is no longer allowed, and for good reason. If a vehicular accident could be bad enough to maim or kill adults, imagine the horrors babies and toddlers would face in a similar situation.
In the interest of helping parents find the right child seat for their little ones, we’ve compiled a list of suitable in-car chairs that should be up to the task. But despite how good these seats seem to be from the outside, we haven’t had a chance to actually give them a try—let alone get an appropriate test subject—a child, obviously—to give them a good shakedown.
Good thing the local distributor of Aprica, which we failed to include in our compilation, lent us one of the brand’s top-tier child seats. And then we got the perfect guy to give this seat a try. He’s cute and cuddly, and his name is Lucas.
Aprica calls this hunk of a child seat the Fladea Grow. It’s quite heavy, weighing in at a rather porky 14.7kg. Much of that heft is due to the wide and substantial base that contains the mechanical bits needed to make the seat swivel and recline. We’ll get to the swiveling and reclining later. If you’re going for a Fladea Grow, it would be best if the seat stayed in one car instead of moving it from vehicle to vehicle, unless you want to grow your biceps.
Jutting out from the rear of the seat base are claws that cling to the car’s Isofix anchors. If the anchors are deep into the car seat, the claws are mounted on extendable arms so reach shouldn’t be a problem. In front of the Fladea Grow’s base is a telescopic rod that secures the seat base to the floor. It’s essentially a backup safety feature, preventing the child seat from tipping forward in case the car crashes and the Isofix anchors fail.
The seat itself is well appointed. It’s trimmed in a breathable mesh-type material that doesn’t get too hot even after being left inside under the noontime sun. Its headrest is height-adjustable and has side pads like those on airliners. The five-point safety harness is padded with the same material as that of the seat. There is even a detachable canopy for children who hate excessive sunlight when sleeping.
But the very clever bit is in the many ways the seat can transform itself. It can swivel 360° with four detents at 90° intervals. This allows the Fladea Grow to face forward, backward and sideways very easily with just a push of the release button. While the first two positions are quite the norm for most car seats, it’s the sideways-facing arrangement that’s the real humdinger.
In this configuration, the seat can be transformed into an almost completely flat bed. This is said to be the ideal position to aid in the development of newborn infants. Lying down flat allows a baby’s spine to be stretched and altered naturally by gravity. This position also helps keep oxygen saturation at normal levels as the lungs are not constricted.
But all this engineering magic won’t really matter if our very picky test subject, Lucas, doesn’t give his two tiny thumbs-up. He did give the Fladea Grow a hard time initially. He didn’t like the seat material at first, refusing to settle down and relax without a fight. The struggle didn’t stop as he was strapped in with the five-point harness.
After a bit of coaxing with his favorite teether and a generous dose of milk, Lucas started to chill out and nap soundly. We don’t know if it was the movement of the car or the comfort of the seat that made him doze off. But for him to fall asleep in his first time with the Fladea Grow, that’s probably more than enough proof to indicate he wouldn’t mind going on another road trip with it.
NOTE: The Fladea Grow Isofix is priced at P48,000, while the belt type sells for P46,000.