GoodBaby has brought us a number of well featured rear facing only car seats, including the Asana and the Abri travel system in Canada. You may have noticed a sleek, stylish new addition to this lineup. The gb Idan looks just a little bit like a spaceship! Let’s check it out.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 4-35 pounds
- Lowest harness position: About 7 inches with the insert
- Height range: 30 inches or less
- Expiration: Six years from the date of manufacture on the sticker
- Handle position: Must be fully upright in Position A when the Idan is in the vehicle
- Weight, carrier only: 11.9 pounds
- Shell height: 18 inches
Installation With the Base: Lower Anchors
The first step in installing the Idan is releasing the lower anchors from their storage compartment. Extend the recline foot all the way to access that compartment. Next, unfold the load leg and lower it to the floor. The part of the base near the load leg should not be raised above the vehicle seat by the load leg.The sequence that worked best for me was to unfold the load leg, place the base on the vehicle seat, use the lever to extend the load leg to the floor, then use the recline foot to ensure the correct level as shown in the level indicator. Otherwise, extending the load leg but without affecting the recline angle was a challenge.
The next step in installing the Idan with the base and lower anchors is to open the belt tensioning plate, then connect the lower anchors using the lower anchor guides if necessary. Tighten the lower anchor strap, but don’t make it too tight or else the belt tensioning plate will not be able to close.There is a “sweet spot” where the lower anchor webbing is just loose enough that the belt tensioning plate will still close. Pull all of the slack in the webbing to the adjuster side before tightening because there is a tendency for some of the slack to get caught on the other side. Close the belt tensioning plate to complete the installation. The orange bar should rotate 90 degrees automatically.
Borrowing lower anchors is when a car seat is installed in the center seating position using a lower anchor from each of the outboard seating positions. It’s only allowed in certain situations when both the car seat and vehicle manufacturers allow it. gb does allow lower anchor borrowing with the Idan, if the vehicle permits, but only up to a distance of 20 inches between the latch anchors.
Installation with the Base: Vehicle Seat Belt
Installing the base with the vehicle seat belt proved to be much more difficult than installing it with the lower anchors. The lap and shoulder belt together are routed through the blue belt guides, under the belt tensioning plate. The belt guides have tabs under which the belt must be routed as well.My 2016 Kia Soul has an extra loop of fabric on the vehicle belt that made this almost impossible. Further, it takes quite a bit of effort to remove slack evenly along the belt. The manual suggests holding the lap and shoulder belts together and threading them through that way, but I needed an extra hand to use that method because the vehicle seat belt tended to bunch up.
After the slack is removed from the vehicle seat belt, close the belt tensioning plate to lock the seat belt. I expected this to be like the lower anchor strap where the base would be tight enough if the belt tensioning plate were closed after most of the slack was removed. However, the blue belt guides position made it necessary to tighten the seal belt virtually all the way and then close the belt tensioning plate.The belt tensioning plate is not a lockoff device so once the belt tensioning plate is closed, engage the vehicle seat belt’s child seat mode to lock the belt.
Load Leg and Center Seating Positions
The load leg may be used on a center floor hump as long as the load leg doesn’t change the angle of the base.
Installation Without the Base
European belt path routing for rear facing car seats is when the shoulder portion of the vehicle seat belt is wrapped around the back of the car seat’s shell. The Idan features a European belt path for baseless installation.HOWEVER. The Idan’s manual clearly states to use the American routing, where the lap portion of the belt is threaded over the child and the shoulder belt is tucked behind the seat only if the European routing does not work.
When I saw the wide plastic belt guides for baseless installation, I was intrigued. I guessed that this might make baseless installation easier since it would be easier to get the belt into the guides. While that was the case, I found it very difficult to get a tight installation since there was no friction at all between the belt and the belt guides. Additionally, the bottom of the Idan is much narrower than the sides, which also makes baseless installation difficult.
The belt guide on the Idan goes lower down than on most seats, and the Idan has a rule that the buckle cannot touch the belt guide. This rule is only written in the European routing section of the manual, but gb has confirmed that it applies to American routing as well.To install with European routing, ensure the level line on the side is level to the ground. Thread the lap portion of the belt through the belt guides and buckle. Then take the shoulder belt and pull it behind the seat and put it through the shoulder belt guide. Last, pull the belt out all the way (if that did not happen as part of the installation process), then feed the belt into the retractor and tighten.
Linear Side-Impact Protection (L.S.P.) System
The Idan features Linear Side Impact Protection. If you’re installing on an outboard vehicle seat, pull out the LSP to extend it on the side of the car seat that is nearest the door. Don’t use the LSP in middle seating positions, and it shouldn’t be extended towards another car seat or person. Press the button on the top of the LSP to retract it.
The handle must be upright (“position A”) when the seat is in the vehicle. There are large buttons on either side of the handle which must both be pressed at the same time to move the handle. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the correct hand positioning to accomplish this; if you only use your thumbs or index fingers, the handle will fall backwards.
Usage and Concerns
We have several concerns about the usage of this seat.
First, the seat comes with the infant insert propped up within the seat in front of the fabric flap. The manual says to use the insert behind the flap, under the baby, pushed up against the crotch buckle. gb has confirmed that it should be used up against the buckle. The problem is that the manual says that the seat is delivered with the insert ready to use. We are afraid caregivers may not know to reposition the insert.
Second, the headrest is angled forward and down. That is, the top of the headrest is further from the seat than the bottom of the headrest is. This caused head slump with all of our little models, whether or not the infant insert was used. (More on that point below.) Once the child has the torso muscles to pull the head and torso upright, usually when the child can sit unassisted, this is not as much of a concern. However, it may still make the seat uncomfortable for the child.
Third, the manual states that the infant insert “must be used for infants who weigh less than 11 pounds (5kg) or reach 3 months.” gb has confirmed that the 3 months was not worded correctly and is simply an estimate of when this weight will be reached, but they have also confirmed that the insert is required to be used until 11 pounds, when it must be removed. This is worrisome since, as mentioned above, the angled headrest can cause head slump, and even more so without the insert. My middle child was born at 10 pounds and, as he was a big eater, was likely 11 pounds by the time he left the hospital four days later! He would have had virtually no head control at that point.
Fourth, the straps on the Idan twist extremely easily. gb commented that this is due to the premium material used on these straps, but nevertheless we fear caregivers may not take the time to untwist the straps.
Fifth, the harness is extremely difficult to tighten when a child is in it – which is when you’d tighten it, after all. gb confirmed this is due to the weight of the child pressing against the headrest. However, we also found that the straps frequently get caught within the back of the seat. We had a similar experience with the Cybex Cloud Q, which has the same type of design. In addition, when the straps are loosened but only one strap is pulled out, it is often impossible to pull the other strap out. As a CPST, I’ve tightened the straps on almost every rear facing seat on the market, and I will say that this one seems to be the most difficult. I’m afraid that caregivers may not even realize that the straps do tighten all the way and may leave them loose, which would be very dangerous.
Fit to Child
Our preemie doll weighs less than 11 pounds, so we used the infant insert. However, even with the infant insert, the straps were above the doll’s shoulders. This makes the Idan’s fit unacceptable for preemies or smaller newborns.
For our newborn doll, we also used the infant insert, as the doll is the size of a 7 pound newborn. With the insert positioned against the buckle, the straps did fit correctly. The sides of the buckle were very close to the thighs, indicating that this may be an issue for more widely-built newborns and young infants. Also, though the dolls don’t have chins or necks, I noticed that the head was angled downwards, due to the headrest positioning as mentioned above. Again, this was even with the insert present.
10 Pound Infant
We weighed this little guy the night of his photoshoot, and he was just under 11 lbs. That meant the insert stays in! He’s 8 weeks here and about 21 inches.With the insert, his head was pressed slightly into his chest. The positioning of the insert causes the infant to arch his or her back, which can make the head angle downwards in seats with a headrest such as the Idan’s.
11 pound Infant
We visited this little again after he reached 11 pounds! This time, we couldn’t use the insert. As expected, his head was pushed downwards. The straps were also exceptionally difficult to tighten on him, as noted above.
3 month old
Here is my son at 3 months old, 13 pounds, and 23.5 inches long. Since he’s over 11 pounds, he cannot use the insert in the seat, and I was very uncomfortable with the angle of his head, as seen best in the inset photo. In the larger photo, he is lifting his eyes to look at me but he cannot lift his head.
5 month old
This little guy has grown with the Idan. Here we see him at 5 months old, weighing 15 pounds, and 26.5 inches tall. He has grown in the torso more than in the legs, and it shows in his fit in the Idan. Unfortunately he has even more head slump than in his 3 month old picture above because the headrest has been moved up in the seat, but he’s still developing head and torso control.
The head of our 30 inch Huggable Images toddler doll is above the top of the headrest. Therefore he has outgrown this seat. The seat may only be used for children 30 inches or less, at any rate. This demonstrates that children with a long torso may outgrow this seat before they reach the 30 inch maximum.
The Idan is approved for use on aircraft. The FAA approval label is marked underneath the carrier portion of the seat. This is convenient yet would make it difficult to lift the seat with the baby in it to show the FAA approval to the flight attendant or other airline personnel.
The manual is stored in a pocket on the underside of the carrier. This makes it easy to locate, it’s not possible to access the manual with the baby in the seat because the harness strap covers the pocket.
The Idan expires 6 years from the date of manufacture. The manual notes that the date of expiration can be found on the carrier and the base. Interestingly, the carrier and base that we received for review have different months of manufacture. This serves as a good reminder to always check the expiration on the carrier and the base.
The Idan is a very stylish addition to the gb lineup. Unfortunately, it has too many flaws for us to be able to recommend it. Here’s a quick summary: the headrest positions the baby with the chin against the chest, the straps are virtually impossible to tighten, the manual gives unclear instructions about the infant insert, and the straps twist almost every time you use them.
We’d encourage our readers interested in the gb line of products to check out the excellent gb Asana DLX or gb Asana LTE instead.