Brio Zento - bad bruising on spine. Arguments against extra padding?


New member
Hi everyone,

we've recently bought a Brio Zento; we're mostly happy with it, I'll post a mini-review in the review section.

The only issue we have with it is quite a serious one: Our 9 month old baby, who is both pretty tough physically as well as not picky with anything normally, gets pretty bad bruising along the lower part of his spine every time he sits in it longer than fifteen to twenty minutes.

On looking at the seat in that area I thought that I would get bruising from it myself if I would be sitting with my spine against a piece of EPS foam that is hard as a piece of wood. As much as we like almost everything else about this seat, this part has not been thought through whatsoever. In the first months of life, a baby's spine curves outwards in the lower back, as opposed to later, as the curve inwards only develops once they start walking more. This basically means that until your baby is walking, the Brio Zento is not suitable and very likely to cause bruising, as the spine constantly presses against the hard EPS foam.

Now I like that there is EPS foam underneath the spine and everywhere else, it's one of the features why we selected this seat. But it wouldn't take away any of the function of the EPS foam in a crash if they would have put some "comfort" padding on top of it at least in this area. "Comfort" padding is actually a misleading word; as the seat is now, we can't really use it at all.

I'm an engineer myself and have worked in (non-baby related) crash testing, so I have some idea of crash dynamics and passenger restraint systems. I have thought it through and can't see any reason why I should not put in the necessary layer of padding myself. In a crash, a piece of e.g. cheap camp mat would just be compacted until the body impacts on the EPS foam, which then does its job and absorbs the impact energy. So I've cut out a suitable piece of 6mm thick camp mat and put it underneath the cover fabric today, works like a charm, no more bruising, and he's as tightly belted in and sitting in a position that has no difference to before.

Aside from the usual manufacturer's statement not to alter the seat, does anyone know a factual argument against putting in padding as described above?

If there are no dynamics based arguments against this, we're going to do it this way. If there actually should be factual arguments against this, the manfuacturer will have to take the seat back, as we are not willing to pay money for an obvious design flaw.

Also, are there no other people who have similar experiences? It's almost impossible, as all babies have their lower spine curve out in the early months. I suspect that a quite large number of Zento users does use some padding or thick clothing without talking about it, otherwise there would be more complaints about this.

Any input appreciated... thanks!


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New member
Ouch!!! poor baby!!!!

You'll have to wait for a tech or someone more informed to chime in here, but I can tell you right now that it is not okay to put ANYTHING between the baby and the seat. There are many reasons.

1. I na vehicle crash, whatever is between baby and seat can compress, and the seat may not work properly.

2. In a vehicle crash, going against manufacturer guidelines will void any warranty for not only the seat - but may void any insurance claims for your child since you were not using hte seat properly.

When someone else comes along hopefully htey'll be able to give you more definite answers, but I do know it is not okay to put anything between baby and seat.


New member
Also, think of it this way - loosen your child's restraint my 5 mm, seems too loose, right? In a crash that padding can compress too much and the restraint will be too loose.


Admin - CPS Technician
Another poster here, I think her name is Finn and she's in New Zealand had this same problem with the Zento, unfortunately.
I personally can't come up with a reason that adding a bit of foam would be unsafe...there are many seats with varying levels of padding that are on the market having had to pass the same crash test standards (Graco has many models with 'gracopedic' foam in the exact same model of seat as their plain models, for example). :shrug-shoulders: But lack of padding and child bruising have also generated at least one recall of Dorel convertible seats in Canada, so there's a precedent for these problems to be fixed with enough consumer complaint. Can you contact the company with your problem? They can't even know they have an issue without any customer feedback. :twocents:


New member
I recently had this exact problem with my Brio Zento to the point where Miss 2.5 was refusing to go in the seat.

There's a really hard bit where the EPS foam ends & the plastic of the shell begins which seems to be the cause of the problem. I contacted our distributor directly here in New Zealand & she immediately knew what I was talking about & sent me a piece of foam to put underneath the cover. It made all the difference & both DD & we rediscovered our love of the Brio!

Let me know if you want any photos... I need to take it out of the car to wash the cover & re-install more upright so won't be a problem.


New member

Here you go - this is what I was sent by the NZ importer/distributor of the Brio to correct the problem with my seat. She has been contacted by a few Brio owners now about this & has spoken with Brio in Sweden about it & this is what they advised her to do. It is 6mm thick, as you have used & as you can see from where my finger is pointing in the photo, it softens the bump where the EPS foam & the blow moulded shell at the base of the seat meet. My daughter I think also didn't like the ridge going up the middle between the harness straps in the EPS foam & this seems to have resolved that issue for us too.

If you're in NZ, it might be a good idea to contact our distributor here or your distributor in your own country to make sure everything is correct with your seat, but from what I understand & was told, the manufacturer is aware that this information is being given out.


New member
I had the exact same problem with my Brio, my son hated it so much he started screaming before we even got in the car & was the reason we bought a multi tech. Our new seat has the hard edge as well but more padding, I beveled the edge with a craft knife, just to make the edge less sharp & that has solved the problem. I ended up putting a sponge ted in our Brio (even though its not recommended) until our new seat arrived.


New member
Hi there,

I'm trying to decide between the brio zento and the britax two way elite.

I'm worried the zento (which looks very snug now) will get uncomfortable and a bit claustrophobic when my daughter grows. Also i'm nervous now i've read that there's problems with back bruising because of a lack of padding? Does anyone know if the Brio has sorted out this problem yet and added their own suitable padding?

I'm worried that the two way elite is a bit too open and my 16month daughter (9.2kg) will rattle around in it or not be supported by anything but the harness. Also how is the leg room on this?

I really hope someone with experience of any of these two can help me!!



New member
The Zento is known for not being a comfortable seat and for keeping kids in awkward seating positions. It's a good seat for short trips in larger cars which is why many taxi cabs in Sweden use this RF seat. Seat shell is also low which mean relatively short time for usage. This seat is in very low demand in Sweden

Like posters above I think one should be careful with adding things to car seats unless it's confirmed to be fine with experts or manufacturer. The short answer to why not is that seat has not been tested this way so we don't know what would happen. IMHO it would most likely be fine but we don't really know.

The seat is not cheap so I think it's poor advertisement for Brio too have a seat which needs to be fixed right away for not being comfortable


We bought 2 brio zentos as they were the only 25kg rear-facing seat available in NZ.

We added the extra padding supplied by the reseller; this solved the bruising issue but didn't make the seat comfortable.

I would not recommend them because:
a) they're uncomfortable due to poor padding, and
b) my son who is tall (but not unusually so) has outgrown it at nearly 4 years old. He finds it very uncomfortable. The harness attaches about 2 inches below his shoulders and often when we pull it tight he hunches over, then he can't straighten up till we stop the car and adjust it. Once he's comfortable, to me the harness feels too loose.
c) They're incredibly heavy so not easy to take if you're flying.

What a shame this seat is so uncomfortable. We are moving to a traditional booster despite our initial good intentions of keeping him rear-facing till he reached 25kg.


Moderator - CPS Technician
If you do not have to adjust the harness any looser to accommodate the padding, and it does not interfere with the fit in any way, I don't see a problem.


I don't have a Brio Zento, but I've always wondered why people tell you not to put a little piece of padding under your child's bottom, or a custom car seat cover that is made a little more comfortable for the child.
I can understand some concerns such as
1) flame retardant differences in material
2) compression of something way too thick in FRONT of the harness ie child's puffy jacket

But what I don't understand, or may be missing something in my thinking, is why as a parent I am told not to put a piddle pad or another piece of cushioning directly under my child's bottom when riding in her car seat.
For example, tell me what you think of this:
I have a britax regent and I have a graco nautilus. On the britax regent I use the infant insert from the graco nautilus folded in half right under her bottom for some comfort padding. In my honest opinion, even though it is not crash tested in this specific way, I don't see why comfort padding in one carseat would be dangerous in another, as long as it is BEHIND the harness.
This is only my opinion and I am definately not advocating for people to use something that is not flame retardant or something that may not have a proper fit, or even do what I am doing. But I just would like some honest clarification of possible dangers of having some padding behind the harness.

And, I know I'm going to get some ridicule for my next question, but tell me this, what would be so horrible about using 2 cover sets on the cosco scenera just for the sake of comfort padding. I have personally never tried this but have wondered what harm it would do when they obviously sell carseats that have a lot more padding than 2 scenera covers put together. Please don't be too harsh in your answers. I am asking these questions because I care about safety in a possible car crash, but the day to day comfort of my child conflicts with regular advice I have heard thus far pertaining to padding.

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