Quick Summary: phil&teds have done a great job with their first Group 0+ car seat. The alpha is light and compact and perfectly designed to keep a newborn safe and secure when travelling in the car.
- Newborn insert makes it comfortable for small babies
- Affordable ISOfix and belted bases
- Easy to fit in all 3 ways
Whats not so good?
- Addition of harness clips would be great
When I first picked up the alpha box, it was hard to believe that there was really a car seat inside, as it was so light! The bases obviously are heavier, but this makes them seem sturdier and more secure when fitted into the car.
Some infant carriers have to be used with a base, and therefore have to be purchased at an additional cost to the user. Though bases can make life easier, the alpha can also be fitted into your car with it's own seatbelt.
The car seat has blue indicators so that you know exactly where to route the seat belt. The lap part of the belt goes over the top of the car seat, under the blue brackets, and clipped into the buckle. It's then just a case of pulling the diagonal shoulder belt around the back of the infant carrier, again held in place with another blue bracket. It's really quick and easy to install this way, and you can't really go wrong thanks to the blue guides. You can also get a nice secure fit once the belt is tightened. Although a safe way to travel, it's not the most convenient fitting the car seat this way, as the car's lap belt is over the baby's legs and makes getting them in and out that little bit harder. Whichever way you fit the alpha, the handle needs to be in the most upright position when in the car.
For ease of use, phil&teds also sell two different bases to sit the alpha on to. One of which is fitted with the car's ISOfix points, and one with the car's seat belt, so you're covered no matter the age or features of your car. Both bases are a great price at only £69, making it affordable to buy both the car seat and base together, maybe even having enough spare cash to purchase multiple bases for the second family car or the grandparent's.
The ISOfix base secures to the car's ISOfix points and is an almost faultless way of fixing your child's car seat into place. It's easy to fit into your car by sliding the ISOfix arms out by squeezing the grey buttons and pushing them on to the ISOfix anchor points. You can make sure that it is firmly in place by pulling to the left and right. A green indicator will highlight when the base is fitted correctly, so you know straightaway if there's a fault somewhere or something you've missed. The next step is the support leg, which adjusts to fit the height of your car's seat and floor - just press the button on the back of the leg and adjust accordingly, until you see another green indicator. The alpha sits comfortably on to the base with a click. To take it off again, there's two grey buttons at the front of the base. One slides out of the way, allowing you to pull the next one and lift the seat - it can still be done easily one-handed.
The universal base offers you the same convenience without needing ISOfix points in the car. The base is fitted to the car with the seat belt, and again features the extendable support leg, with the addition of a rebound bar which prevents the car seat and base from rotating against the vehicle seat in the case of an accident.
Once fitted correctly, the bases offer a quick and safe solution to get the car seat in and out of the car - whether it's just to carry or to use on your pushchair. They are a nice slim size, at only 43.5cm, so great for families that might need to fit 3 car seats along the back.
Safety and Security
The alpha is tested and approved to the current Child Safety Standard ECE R 44/04, so you can be sure that it is safe to transport your child.
As the alpha features high sides that are nicely padded with EPS foam, it offers great protection from side impact. The 5-point harness features soft non-slip shoulder pads to help keep them comfortable and secure. When using the car seat with newborns and smaller babies, phil&teds have included a lovely thick red insert. Featuring a cushioned head support and an additional lumbar cushion for when they're really tiny, the baby will always be kept cosy.
Day to Day use
For newborns and small babies, the red liner is fantastic and adds a nice flash of colour to the car seat. It's squishy and soft with padding in all the right places, around the head and hips, to keep them protected in the event of an accident. The lumber support cushion underneath the liner just sits in place to keep a small baby in the optimal position and is easily removed as they grow. It's also very easy to remove the liner when they no longer need the additional support. By taking out the harness from the back of the seat, the liner just slips off.
The phil&teds alpha has a 5-point harness that has 4 different height settings, 2 width settings and 2 for the crotch buckle. This is great as it really allows a correct fit for even a tiny baby. It's quick and simple to adjust by turning the car seat over so that you can see it's underside. Once you've unhooked the shoulder straps, it's just a case of rethreading through the right hole and sliding them back on to the metal plate. To adjust the length of the harness, it's just as easy, by pressing the button at the front of the seat, hidden under a material flap, and pulling each strap. We think that all car seats these days should come with either a grip at each side of the seat, or a magnetic holder to keep the harness out of the way while you get baby in or out. It's a simple fix but something that can make all the difference and really help out a busy new parent. Each shoulder harness has a thick, non-slip pad, which prevents any chafing. It also really does keep the pad in place, as some shift when using. The two harness pieces need clipping together before you push into the buckle, so you will need two hands for this, but it's smooth enough to do.
With it's own integrated sun hood, the alpha offers some protection while in the car. If you're wanting to use it on your pushchair though, you'll need something else to help keep them in the shade, especially in the Summer.
One of the benefits of using an infant carrier, as opposed to a car seat that will last longer, is that you can use it to transport your baby, even when out of the car. (Remember that it is not recommended for young babies to spend long periods of time in their car seat.) Infant carriers can sometimes be awkward and heavy to lug about, as well as your other essentials, but the alpha is particularly light at only 3.9kg. The ergonomic carrying handle also makes it easier to carry and has 4 positions.
When using an infant carrier out of the car, it's great if you can clip it on to your pushchair while nipping into a shop. The alpha car seat is compatible with all of phil&teds current pushchairs, as well as some other well known brands, by purchasing adaptors. There are quite a few options available, so check out the phil&teds website for more details.
phil&teds have done a great job with their first Group 0+ car seat. The alpha is light and compact and perfectly designed to keep a newborn safe and secure when travelling in the car. The materials are well made and there's plenty of padding, creating a safe, quality car seat.
As you can use the infant carrier on any of phil&teds' pushchairs, with the relevant adaptors, it's a great option for parents who want to create a travel system. The click and go bases make getting the alpha from car to pushchair possible in seconds, and because it's so light, you won't struggle with the manoeuvre.
We would love to see the car seat with some way of keeping the harness out of the way, as it can be a pain and make getting baby in and out a longer process.
The price point of both the alpha and it's bases is very good, allowing the majority of new parents to purchase a safe and comfortable car seat for their little one. It's ideal for small babies that need a bit more padding and support to keep them in a good position. The 2 different bases also open it up to people who may not have the ISOfix anchors in their car.