Kiddy Evo-lunafix Review by Best Buggy
We have long been concerned at the number of babies who are being transported in car seats on a pushchair chassis; where it is clear that the baby has been in the seat for a period of time e.g. at a theme park, or around a shopping centre. Whilst there may be sometimes be medical reasons, we know from talking to parents that they are often choosing to use a car seat for a baby, rather than to use a carrycot or a lie flat seat. This may be due to finances, but mainly we believe because it is rare for a parent to be given any education about the risks associated with infant car seats. Thus parents mistakenly are using infant carriers on pushchair chassis’, believing them to be safe for prolonged use outside of a car, because no one tells them otherwise!
Last year we did a slight diversion from pushchairs, to look at infant car seats. This was caused by a travel system review, which required a huge amount of research into car seat and pushchair safety regulations; as well as the health implications of travelling with a baby in a car seat. One of the people we phoned for advice was the Kiddy sales rep (who used to work for Maxi-Cosi). Last autumn, he asked to call and see us at Best Buggy HQ. He brought with him the new Kiddy Evo-lunafix. Unlike some of the Best Buggy team, I don’t usually get excited about car seats, but when the Kiddy rep flipped the handle back on the Evo-lunafix and suddenly the seat was lie flat, it was a WOW moment! I sat up, looked, and couldn’t really believe what I had just seen!
The Kiddy Evo-lunafix has a unique lie-flat mechanism which means that a baby can travel with their body and neck inline, both in the car, and outside the car on a pushchair chassis. The Kiddy Evolution Pro 2 also lies flat, but only outside the car.
How does it work?
Underneath the Evo-lunafix seat is a plastic mesh suspended within the car seat shell. When the handle of the seat is moved backwards, the mesh tightens and the tummy and bottom of the baby are pushed upwards. This allows the spine and neck to be supported in line which means that the throat and airway are open and not constricted. The baby however, is still inclined. In the event of an accident, the mesh underneath the seat absorbs the energy of the impact and moulds around the body of the baby, so that they are kept in a more upright position, safe inside the outer shell.
So why is lie-flat best for a baby?
There are risks associated with using a typically inclined infant carrier. One of the biggest is of oxygen desaturation. When the baby sleeps, the muscles in the neck are not strong enough to support their proportionally large head. Thus their head will flop forwards onto their chest when in a typical upright infant carrier. The airway in a baby is like a drinking straw. When the baby is awake, the air flow is fine; however when the head flows forwards it restricts the air flow through the narrow airway like a pinched straw would. Thus the baby is not drawing in sufficient oxygen with each breath. This quickly leads to oxygen desaturation i.e. insufficient oxygen in the blood. There are other conditions associated with babies being in car seats including plagiocephaly; increased reflux; bradycardia; restricted growth of internal organs and the spine and more. We have even heard recently that there could be links with ADHD and children’s learning; and that doctors are seeing increasing problems with teenager’s backs which may also be associated with infant carriers. We wrote a piece here on ‘Why Babies Should Travel Laid Flat In A Car Seat Infant Carrier’ which gives much more detailed information about the health risks and research.
In a nut-shell, oxygen desaturation has been proved to start within 20 minutes of a child being placed in a typical upright infant carrier.
In the context of getting ready to go on a journey, and then the time it takes to travel, 20 minutes can pass very quickly.
Soon after we wrote the post above, we heard the very tragic story of Baby Lochlan. Baby Lochlan passed away at just 26 days old after having breathing difficulties in his infant carrier, just a few minutes into a 12 mile journey. What is even more tragic about the story told by his grandad here; is that his grandad has been a huge advocate of lie flat car seats for many years. Unfortunately a typical lie flat carrier did not fit in his son’s car. He firmly believes now that the angle of infant carriers should be a primary test factor in infant carriers in future. He says that are many more deaths or life threatening events each year to newborns travelling in their infant carriers, than from accidents on the road.
Our own son had a SATs monitor permanently attached to him as a baby. The only time the alarm ever sounded was when he was fast asleep in his car seat. It was a sober warning.
Why is the Kiddy Evo-lunafix unique?
The Kiddy Evo-lunafix is unique because unlike other Group 0 and 0+ infant carriers and cots, the Evo-lunafix only takes up one seat space in the car and is easy to fit. All the other lie-flat infant carriers / lie-flat cots, take up two spaces. So the Evolunafix fits like a regular infant carrier i.e. rear facing, but yet has the huge health benefits for the baby of an inline safer sleeping position.
To ensure the safety of the child in the event of an accident, the Kiddy Evo-lunafix can only be used with the iso-fix base which is included in the box. It is important to note this, because at first glance the Evo-lunafix looks expensive, until you realise that the iso-fix base is included in the price. Equally it is important to know that the Evo-lunafix can not be used without the iso-fix base, which means if you are likely to be using the infant carrier between two cars, that you will need to invest in another car seat base. If this is an issue, then the Kiddy Evolution Pro 2 infant carrier can be used in the car, using either a base or a seat belt. However, the Evolution Pro 2 only lies flat outside the car e.g. on the floor or on a pushchair chassis; NOT in the car.
This needs to be fitted to the car before you use the Evo-lunafix. The base is the Kiddy isofixbase 2. It is important to ensure that your car is compatible here before purchase, and to check which positions it can be used in your car. The base attaches to the isofix connectors in your car. These are easy to clip in. The base then can be lengthened for the correct fit. There is a leg which needs placing down and extending until it reaches the floor of your car. There are green indicators which show that the base is correctly fitted, and to show that the foot is secure.
The Evo-lunafix simply drops into position on top of the isofix base. The handle can be left upright for an upright seating positon, or can be moved backwards to give the lie-flat position. A button at the front of the iso-fix base releases the seat at the end of the journey.
Using the Kiddy Evo-lunafix
The Kiddy Evolunafix comes with a removable newborn head support. This makes the Evo-lunafix more snuggly and offers better support for a small baby. As the baby grows this can be removed. The seat is very padded and comfortable for a little one.
The Evo-lunafix has is a three point harness with a large press buckle release button. The shoulder height is easily adjusted via a flap at the rear of the seat. Simply move move the circular pin up a notch to the required height and leave it in position, and close the flap.
The harness is lengthened via button between the babies legs. It is underneath the fabric, and it takes a short while to locate it first time as the button is further in than you expect. However, once you are used to the location, it is no problem to find.
The harness needs to be loosened one side at a time to ensure it does not twist. It is simple to pull the harness tight until it is very snuggly fitting on the child with no gaps.
The seat is very thickly padded with comfortable harness pads. The babies we have seen in an Evo-lunafix always look extremely comfortable.
Lie-Flat / Sit Upright
As mentioned above, the lie-flat mechanism is done by moving the handlebar. Thus, when the baby is sat upright, the handle is in the upright position. The seat can be left upright for an older child to look out. However, for a young baby, (we suggest at least under 12 months old,) they should ideally travel flat at all times, and ideally always for napping. To lie the seat flat, simply move the handle backwards to behind the child’s head. This pushes the slatted mesh up under the child’s bottom and lifts their body inline with the neck and head. This is a short good film (turn the sound off if you don’t understand German!) which demos how the Evo-lunafix works.
There is one draw back to this. The handle needs to be used to lift and carry. Thus, if your little one is asleep when you arrive at your destination in the car; you will need to sit the baby back upright to be able to use the handlebar, and then once on the pushchair chassis or floor, the handle can then be moved so that the child is laid flat once again. This movement does make a fairly loud click. If your child is a very light sleeper, then potentially this could wake them. However, this has not been an issue with the babies we have been testing the Evo-lunafix with, so far. We would love Kiddy to find a way to lie the seat flat without using the handle or making a the click.
It is important to note, that unlike many infant carriers, the handle can be up or down when travelling in the car depending on whether you want to use the lie flat facility or not. This is one reason why this car seat can not be used without the isofix base. Just bear in mind that when the Evo-lunafix is in the lie-flat position that the seat is quite long and you need room for it behind the drivers, or passenger seat.
To be able to drive for any distance without having to stop, remove the baby from a car seat, and then set off again every so often, is fantastic. Or to be able to drive somewhere, and leave the baby sleeping peacefully laid flat, whilst you shop or go to an appointment may be very helpful. Or even to be able to do a short school run, but then allow your baby to stay sleeping in their car seat upon your return, whilst you get some household chores done can be really useful. It means that you are also not disturbing the valuable sleep which a baby needs to grow.
I was told that the Kiddy Evolunafix was i-Size ready i.e. the seat was large enough to hold a 15 month old baby. In fact the Evo-lunafix has one of the largest seats for an infant at 50cms from the babies bottom up to the crown of the head. The Cybex Sirona which is sold as an Extended Rear Facing seat is just 1cms taller at 51cms tall. Thus your baby is unlikely to grow out of the Kiddy Evo-lunafix before they reach 13kgs.
The upper weight limit for the Evo-lunafix is 13kgs, so it will last a baby 1kgs longer than the new Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus (a 12kgs limit), and this means that once your baby reaches 15 months (under new i-Size regulations) that they can then transfer to a forward facing seat at that point if you wish. With a car seat with a lower weight limit, you run the risk of needing a second rear facing car seat, before moving to a forward facing car seat later on i.e. three car seats from birth to 12, instead of two (if you get an Evo-lunafix and a Guardianfix Pro 2).
When you recline the Evo-lunafix into the lie-flat position, the seat physically grows and extends backwards to offer more support for little legs.
Travel System / Pushchair Compatibility
One of the messages that we would like to get across to parents, who like the health benefits of the Evo-lunafix, but who also need the benefits of a travel system; is that the Evo-lunafix fits onto a good number of pushchair chassis’s from leading pushchair manufacturers. In general, the Evo-lunafix, (and Evolution Pro 2) fits onto a pushchair using standard Maxi-Cosi seat adaptors. However, this rule does not always follow so it is important to check compatibility out here.
I was delighted to learn, during this review period that Babystyle have just chosen the Evo-lunafix for their matching Egg Stroller infant carrier. The Evo-lunafix also fits onto the Oyster 2, and the Oyster Max. It fits onto the Baby Jogger City Mini, City Mini GT, City Elite, City Select and City Versa. It fits on the Bugaboo Buffalo and Cameleon; the Easywalker Mini and June; the Stokke Xplory; the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle, Terrain and +One; The Joolz Day; the Silver Cross Surf and Maxi Cosi Mura. Candy have just announced that the Evo-lunafix has been safety tested on all their single strollers – the Peach, Raspberry, Strawberry, Peach All Terrain and the Apple2Pear. These are just a few of the pushchairs that the Evo-lunafix fits! So it is worth asking your retailer.
We would also strongly suggest that you consider buying a lie flat car seat like the Evo-lunafix, and then choose a pushchair to fit. This way, your baby travels in the safest possible position.
The Evo-lunafix drops easily onto a pushchair chassis using the Maxi-Cosi adaptors. It is easy to remove the infant carrier at the end. The handle needs to be placed in the upright position. Either side of the seat – near the baby’s head are two rectangular buttons. These press in, and will hold in once depressed, so that you are not juggling the release buttons and the handlebar at the same time. Once the buttons are depressed, the seat can be lifted off the chassis then using the handle.
There is an optional raincover with integrated insect net available for the Evolunafix and Evolution Pro 2. The raincover is unusual because it is stored in a small bag, and then unfolds by popping open. There are reflectors on the fabric to make the raincover easily seen in winter.
For preemie babies, there is a Kiddy Premature Inlay available. The last photo above shows how this fits (the grey part). The block between the babies legs can be moved to fill the space between the baby and the crotch strap. This makes any infant carrier fit and support a premature baby so that they travel safely with no gaps in the harness.
The Evo-lunafix weighs approx 4.9kgs. The dimensions (WxHxD) are 66 x 44 x 62cms . The Iso-fix base weighs approx 5.5kgs 32 x 17 x 70cms.
Our final comment about the Kiddy Evo-lunafix is the amazing array of colours that this car seat comes in. Our Evo-lunafix comes in the Heaven colourway. However there are some gorgeous colours such as Hawaii turquoise blue; Lavender; hot Pink; Apple green and Sunshine yellow. There is even a daring Zebra print. We love that the outer shell is also coloured for a funky look.
This review is one of those rare times on Best Buggy where functionality and the safety of the child has to over-ride everything else. The more we read up about the risks associated with traditional upright baby seats, the more of a no-brainer it is to continue to use one of these.
There are lie-flat cots which take up two spaces in the car; and there are infant carriers which will lie flat outside of the car. These are all good. However because the Evo-lunafix fits in one seat, makes lie-flat at all times – both inside and outside the car, accessible to everyone.
Functionally the Evo-lunafix works very well. It would be better if the lie flat function was not linked to the handle, so that the seat could be carried without moving the handle and making a noise. The lie-flat function of the Evo-lunafix does require room for the handle to be left down which may be an issue in a small car.
Above all the health benefits for the baby are huge. The risks associated with an upright car seat are removed. The baby’s internal organs, back and spine have the best opportunity to grow and develop during undisturbed sleep.
The peace of mind for parents is enormous – that the baby is sleeping in a safe car seat, in the most healthy position possible.
We absolutely have no hestitation in awarding the Kiddy Evo-lunafix a Best Buggy 5 star rating – it is a great car seat but this seat is so innovative and is leading the way to safer journeys for babies. If we could change the world to using lie flat seats for babies, then we would!
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