As my baby is nearing the 1-year mark and started looking progressively more uncomfortable in her infant car seat, I began my search for the most innovative convertible seat on the market. I noticed on giggle that the Nuna family had a new offering — the Nuna RAVA convertible car seat — and that it was getting rave reviews.
The website, which is famous for offering the latest and greatest baby gear on the market, boasted that the sleek-looking car seat offered the latest technology, something the company touted as their unique “Simply Secure” installation. Though I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, in my technologically stunted mind I translated it to “easier.” After doing a little bit of research, I learned that while most car seats on the market rely on the LATCH system for installation, the newest trend, especially with higher-end models, replaces the complicated threading system with an easier, hassle-free alternative which, instead, utilizes the seatbelt.
Though I had gotten the hang of the LATCH system after three plus years of moving around car seats, it has often been a source of frustration and anxiety for me. First of all, there is the angling of getting the darn thing connected (lengthening the strap and tilting the seat, often having to walk around the car to do the other side), then, the act of tightening each side, once again going back and forth to each side of the car. At the end of the installation I often feel panic: Did I do it right? Is it tight enough? It the tilt correct? All while my two children are most likely screaming, crying, or about ready to run into the driveway while I am in the process.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four car seats aren’t installed properly. Other surveys have tallied the percentage closer to 90 percent. Either way, these are staggeringly frightening statistics for parents, so I am inclined to pay attention when I hear words like “simple” and “smart” in the same sentence as “car seat.”
The price, around $450, seemed pretty steep, but also pretty comparable to other high-end car seats like the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio (which I own) and the BRITAX Advocate, which boasts similar technology to the Nuna. I am also a firm believer in splurging on products that you love, will use for a long period of time, will make your life easier on a daily basis (like strollers, convertible car seats, and high chairs), and give you peace of mind on the safety front, while trying to spend less on those items that are grown out of quickly (infant car seats, bouncers, and jumpers), so the price didn’t scare me as much as it may others.
When it arrived and I removed it out of the box, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful it looked.
“That’s like, the Mercedes of car seats,” my husband, who usually doesn’t care about baby gear, said to me when he walked in the house and saw it sitting in our living room.
“Rolls Royce,” I corrected him.
Sleek, clean, and minimalist in design, just by swiping your hand across its fabric, it’s obvious how well made it is. I did find it on the heavy side (27.2 pounds) compared to my Peg Perego (21.6 pounds), so if you are one of those people who travel on airplanes with your car seat, it may not be your best option.
As I am used to installing a carseat with the LATCH system, I had to read the directions about ten times before I felt comfortable attempting to install on my own because even though it was supposedly more simple and efficient of a system, the simple fact that I had never fathomed installing a carseat like this, made it seem more complicated. I hauled it out to my car, opened the rear facing True Tension door, fed the seat belt through the belt path and closed the door, and all of a sudden I realized: that’s it. No wrestling with seat belts or tightening straps was needed.
“Starting with a blank page and the safety standards in mind, Nuna created the RAVA,” explains Joy Nissen, President of Nuna USA, who explains that installation error inspired the design of the seat.
“Its lack of, some of the ‘normal’ adjustment parts that have been the norm on car seats has made the seat easier. Also the addition of non-conventional installation methods has made the RAVA both unique and easy to use.”
I tried it out rear facing for a few days, and my daughter loved it. Then, I decided to forward face it so that my 3-year-old son could ride in it. Jackson is super tall for his age and usually doesn’t have a whole lot of legroom when he is riding behind his father. I was pleasantly surprised to find upon installation that he suddenly had an abundance of space between his legs and the driver’s seat – much more than in his Peg Perego.
I think it’s safe to assume that within a few years, the whole industry will trade in the LATCH system for a technology similar to Nuna’s. While all car seats must meet the same federal safety standards, there is no way the government can ensure that parents are installing their children’s seats properly, which is why so many fail in accidents. In my opinion, if spending a few hundred extra bucks on a car seat can decrease the chance of injury even a fraction of a percent, it’s completely worth it.