When Toby was about 8 months old he outgrew his 0+ infant car seat. He was nowhere near the minimum weight to move to a next stage forward facing seat but being so tall the top of his head was starting to appear over the top of the seat.
As it was I had read about the safety benefits of extended rear facing car seats and had no intention of moving Toby to a forward facing seat any time soon. We needed a rear facing seat that was suitable from birth but would last Toby for at least another few years. Unfortunately there weren’t a huge amount of options available to us. With the introduction of the new iSize regulations (you can read more about iSize here) there are more and more extended rear facing seats coming on to the market but even though it was only just over a year ago there weren’t many suitable seats available at the time.
Why we chose the Britax Dualfix
Having looked at the options we decided to go for the Britax Dualfix. We’ve now been using this car seat for over a year so I thought it was about time I shared some of my thoughts.
Firstly, I wanted an isofix seat and we had to find one that was compatible with our car. The other main attraction of the Dualfix was that it can swivel from being rear to forward facing, and although we weren’t planning on using it forward facing for a good few years it was good to have the flexibility. The swivel feature also means that the seat can face the door which makes getting Toby in and out much easier (especially when you are 7 months pregnant!).
So, a few of the other details about the Britax Dualfix. As I’ve already mentioned it’s a combination rear and forward facing seat. It is fitted into the car using an integrated isofix base. The seat is suitable from birth to 18kg (approximately 4 years old). There are three recline positions – the seat must be used in its most reclined setting until your child weighs 9kg. There is also an infant insert included which should be used from birth until approximately 6 months. The straps are easily adjusted by moving the headrest up and down.
This photo shows Toby at about 10 months old with the seat fully reclined.
What do we think of the Dualfix?
On the positive side Toby has always seemed comfortable in the seat, from when he first started using it at 8 months, until now at almost 2. The straps are very easy to adjust and to open and close and Toby always seems secure in the seat. The biggest plus point has to be the swivel feature which allows the seat to face the door for getting Toby in and out. I’m sure this has saved my back from untold damage over the last 18 months! In rear-facing mode with the seat in the most reclined position it will swivel towards the door but will not turn the full 180° to face forwards. This worked fine for us when Toby was smaller and was always using the seat in the reclined position.
Are there any negatives?
So although there are some positive features of the Britax Dualfix there are also quite a few negatives that we have come across with this car seat . First of all it was quite difficult to fit the seat in the car in the first place. This may be partly due to the location and access to the isofix points in our car (we have a Nissan Qashqai) but it wasn’t made any easier by the fact that the seat is attached to the base making it very big to try and manoeuvre. However, once we managed to get it in the car it did feel very secure so no issues there. There are indicators which turn to green to show that the isofix points and supporting leg are fitted correctly, so you shouldn’t be left in any doubt that the seat is fitted safely.
The other main issue we have had with this seat is that the recline adjustment is very stiff. In theory you can adjust the recline with your child in the seat. In practice this is almost impossible. There is a handle under the front of the seat which must be pulled (and held) out whilst pushing or pulling the seat to adjust the recline. It moves fairly smoothly from the more upright positions to being reclined but it is very stiff to move it the other way. In order to move the seat to the most upright position you have to grasp the handle at the front, push in a safety button on the base, and push the seat itself into the correct position – very tricky unless you have three hands! When Toby was smaller and always using the seat in the fully reclined position we didn’t have any problems. The issues with the recline only became apparent when Toby was about 12 months or so and wanted to see what was going on around him a bit more. At that age the most upright position seemed to be too upright – this problem is exacerbated when the seat is rear-facing as (depending on your car) the slope of the seats can make the car seat seem almost tipped forward. There is a middle recline position which would have been perfect but unfortunately in this middle position the seat no longer swivels to the door. Because the recline mechanism is so stiff it was too annoying to adjust it every time Toby was in the car so now he has the seat in the most upright position all the time. In this position the seat will swivel to the door and also the full way round to be forward facing if you choose. This is OK most of the time but if we are going on longer journey where Toby is likely to fall asleep we do find his head falls forward when the seat is fully upright.
This is Toby at 19 months with the seat fully upright.
The final niggle with the Britax Dualfix is that compared to some other rear facing seats which are now available the seat, and leg room when rear facing are quite small. As Toby is particularly tall it is likely that he will grow out of this seat way before he reaches the weight limit. I am hoping we can get another year out of it, by which point our new baby will be ready to move from his infant carrier to a bigger seat, so he can use the Dualfix and we can get a next stage seat for Toby.
So there are quite a few negatives to the Britax Dualfix (affiliate link) but plenty of positives too. So when it comes down to it, would I buy another one? Honestly, probably not. I love the swivel feature of this seat but for something that costs £350 there are too many problems with it. As I mentioned at the start of this review there are more and more extended rear facing seats coming on to the market and some of these also have the swivel feature so I would probably look to one of those before buying another Dualfix.
If you’ve made it this far – well done! I hope you found this review helpful. If you have any questions about this seat or extended rear-facing in general then please feel free to ask. I’m no expert but I can certainly share our experience. And for the record, Toby is still perfectly happy rear-facing at nearly 2 years old and I plan on keeping him rear facing for as long as we can!
EDIT: Toby stayed rear-facing in the Britax Dualfix until he was just three. At that point his shoulders were right up under the head rest, even though he wasn’t over the weight limit for the seat. However, Toby is particularly tall, and has a long body so it was no surprise that he outgrew the seat at three. This is him at about two and a half and you can see he doesn’t have a lot of room left.
Our younger son Gabe (who is more of an average size!) then moved into the Dualfix when he was about 11 months old and stayed in it until he was just four.
You can buy the Britax Dualfix (affiliate link) from all good car seat retailers.
SAFETY NOTICE: I recently received a comment on this review from a reader who was concerned that the Britax Dualfix should not be used in the more upright positions when rear-facing, as shown in some of these pictures. I contacted Britax for clarification as admittedly it is not entirely clear from the instructions that come with the seat. This is the response I got from Britax customer services:
I am able to advise that the Dualfix car seat can be used in all three recline positions rearward facing. There are weight categories on the side of the seat base therefore for a child from birth until 13kg the seat unit is to be used in a fully reclined or in the slightly reclined position for this weight. For a child who weighs over an unclothed weight of 13 kg the seat is to be used fully upright or in the slightly reclined position for this category.
**I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.