Chicco Unico Plus child seat review
Chicco is a popular brand for children's products and they make a range of child seats too among other things. My child is a little over a year old now and every trip that he has taken in a car since he was 14 days old, has been in a car seat. Kids can be tough though and he never really enjoyed the feeling of being confined into a little shell with seat belts strapped on both his arms - especially after spending nine months in an itty bitty womb. But safety after all is paramount and we wanted to ensure that we inculcate its importance in him from an early stage. It was time for us to upgrade from his smaller child seat to a bigger one, and just in time, Chicco sent over their Unico Plus model for a review.
The packaging is pretty simple and contains the seat and a manual with no assembly or tools required to get started. The seat comes mounted on a chunky baseplate that allows it three angles of recline and a forward or rear-facing arrangement depending on the age of the kid. Ours is ready to face the world now, though all he sees in the back of my seat and a bit of the co-passenger, which is usually the pleasant face of his mother. I choose to mount the child seat behind mine because, in the unlikely event of an accident or such a hairy moment, the driver's instinct is to always steer away and save their side first - though this decision is debatable.
The mounting of the seat is easy and in the last two months that I'm using it, I have tried it across various cars and body styles - from a (relatively) compact hatchback like the i20 N Line to a mid-size Taigun and generously sized SUVs like the Gloster. A hook at the rear of the child-seat tethers to a clip which is provided behind each rear seat in the car, while two adjustable brackets under the baseplate extend rearward, making it easy to latch onto the Isofix child seat mounts embedded in the seats. Since this child seat doesn't come off the baseplate, it can get cumbersome to latch the brackets into the Isofix mounts in small cabins like the i20's. In the Gloster, there is ample space, but the puffed-up cushioning and loose leather fabric of its seat make it difficult to access the Isofix clips. The Taigun was easy though because the Isofix mounts have adjoining housings that make access easy. If you are going to leave the child seat in place forever, the mounting will be a one-time challenge for you, but if you want to remove the seat often to move from one car to another it can get cumbersome.
I also wished the seat was removable and easy to carry around like a bassinet making it convenient while visiting cafes or restaurants that may not have a baby feeding chair. And because it isn't removable, the seat doesn't get a carrying handle or any additional brackets. I would recommend Chicco design a removable overhead bracket or mechanism that can allow the installation of accessories like a sun visor/cover, hanging toys etc. to aid the baby's comfort and entertainment over long-distance journeys. We had to move the seat from one side of the car to another only to avoid the sun from irritating our child, and cutting the view outside of the window by adding blinds was equally irritating for him.
I recommend keeping the child in a child seat for a maximum of two hours to ensure their comfort and well-being for this duration, the Chicco Unico Plus seems comfortable enough. We did a 1,050km road trip with it in a day and took 15min breaks every two hours to give our child a change of posture and environment - and not once did he cry on this relatively taxing road trip. Every child behaves differently though but the seat, its cushioning and its fabric seem comfortable for long journeys too. It doesn't get too warm for the baby either. It's designed to accommodate babies that weigh between newborn-36kg and comes with an attachment that can be used for newborns so that their back and neck receive extra support until they can hold their neck.
The fabric is easy to clean and a car vacuum cleaner will quickly suck out any food crumbs your child will drop in the seat. There are hardly any crevices or hard-to-reach corners to worry about. Occasional preventive checks on the Isofix mounts are always a good idea, but we didn't notice the seat going loose or changing positions on its own even after driving on rough roads in the past two months of testing. The seat seems well built too, the plastics seem robust so far and the seat belts are easy to fasten and loosen to suit your child's size and comfort. Its asking price may seem tall to a first-timer, but given that it will fit your child for at least four years, it seems value for money to me. From that perspective, it is also a good gifting option for new or expecting parents.
As a word of advice from a new parent and "the road trip uncle" to many kids in the family, I recommend that you get your child accustomed to a child seat from the first month of their birth. They are likely to rebel at first but will get into the groove within a few months. Getting them used to a child seat will pay its dividends in the long run - not only from the obvious perspective of safety but also from a convenience point of view.
Where to buy: www.chicco.in
Starts Rs 9.84 Lakhs