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Most parents will be aware that it is a legal requirement for children under the age of 12 to use a car seat nowadays (unless they are over 135cm tall.) This particular car seat is a group 2/3 type which the manufacturers state is suitable for children from 3-12 years of age (approximately 15-36kg), as it converts from a forward facing car seat into a booster cushion when appropriate.
We've used this particular car seat, the Graco Junior Highback, since my oldest son was around four years old and he, at eight, he still uses this as a booster cushion. Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable using this for a child as young as three as both the seat and the child are held in place by the seat belt alone. My three year old is still using a car seat which has its own straps and this seems to provide extra comfort and protection for a child of his age. He also tends to sleep in the car and this type of seat doesn't offer much in the way of support to the side of the head. Based on our experience with this seat, though, I'd be more than happy to pass it on to my middle son in around twelve months time as it is still in excellent condition and has lots of life left in it.
When used as a stage two seat, this consists of two separate parts and the back rest simply attaches on to the cushion piece easily. The back rest features slots in the side to guide the seat belt into the correct position. The seat belt simply threads through this slot and straps over your child, just as you would usually use a seat belt. This type of seat is so much easier to fit and remove than car seats for younger children so it can be left in the car and quickly removed for any older passengers when necessary. It is also incredibly slimline and lightweight so it can be carried easily and stored in the boot or even slotted down the back of the front seats when not in use. This would be an ideal purchase for somebody who doesn't actually own their own car but wants a car seat for an older child for any trips out by road as it is so convenient to store.
The drawback to being so slim and lightweight is that it doesn't seem to offer much in the way of comfort for the child using it. The padding on the hard plastic base is negligable and there is only a thin covering of fabric over the backrest. Having said that, my oldest child has never complained about being uncomfortable in this seat even on long journeys. Like most car seats, the covering is removable and machine washable which is handy, especially if your child is prone to travel sickness.
Another handy feature is the pull out cup holders which slide in and out of the base. These tend to get used for all manner of rubbish such as sweet wrappers and the like but this is considerably better than ending up strewn across the back of my car! They are also a good place to put little toys and then forget about them - causing endless arguments and tears!
For an older child, the back rest simply clips off the base and the seat part then simply rests on the adult seat of a car. This raises the child up slightly which offers more protection in the unfortunate event of a crash. Thankfully, we've never had to put this seat to the ultimate test but, obviously, the seat complies with the appropriate safety requirements to safeguard a child using it.
Our specific version is the same colourway as shown here on Ciao, a rather sombre black and green affair, which is very practical as it hides any dirt or stains! It is also available in different colours which might be more appealing to children themselves. The Graco Junior Highback is currently available from Halfords online for £34.99, which is a similar price to the one we paid four years ago. This is a promotional offer, however, and the standard RRP is listed as £79.99 which seems expensive to me for what is essentially a plastic seat. It does have a good life span, though, and is likely to be in good enough condition to hand down to younger siblings, based on our experience so it would be a worthwhile expense as it will get lots of use. I'd certainly recommend this seat based on its ease of use and durability.