Aug 25 2008

Oh, car seats. There’s like a million choices.

A few weeks ago, we set up a Target registry so I could get a $20 gift card. We spent some considerable time in the car seat aisle, looking at the available options and fiddling with the features.

Our favorite one on display was the Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 car seat. We liked how you could use it for a long time, how the buttons were easier to manipulate than other seats on display, and it felt sturdy.

Turns out, this car seat was not highly rated by online consumers. A considerable amount of people had bad things to say about this model (it’s a pain to install, the straps get twisted, and the baby grows out of it too fast) and it was enough to make me want to look for something else.

I did some more research on car seat options to learn about the features I should seek. I’m a member of a parenting message board, and one of the boards is completely dedicated to car seats. Some of the moms on there are true car seat experts–and are certified to install seats and do safety inspections in the US. They know what they’re talking about.

I described our car, budget (actually, price is no issue for the car seat. I’ll save money on diapers, but when it comes to a device that could save my baby’s life–yeah. I’ll try to get a good deal, but we aren’t cutting corners on a seat), and features we hoped to have.

They gave me several recommendations–one of which is called a True Fit, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

Going off on a bunny trail to talk about why I don’t want an infant car seat…

Some moms swear by the infant seat carrier. You know–the “travel system” type where you can snap a car seat into a base and then carry the baby in the carrier or put it on a stroller. This option seems sort of convenient, but honestly, it doesn’t appeal to us at all. Maybe we’ll regret it later (and if we do, I’ll let you know).

For one, those seats are heavy. Some of them are 10 pounds, and that’s without a baby in it! Lugging 20 pounds by carrying it at my side away from my body is a great way to wear out my arms and get a sore back. That’s exactly the feeling I hope to have while recovering from childbirth. Um.

We live on the third floor of our apartment building. It’s gunna feel really heavy. If you’re going to carry 10-20 pounds of anything, it’s much better to carry it up against your body rather than awkwardly at your side.

We do NOT want one of those strollers that come with the infant carriers. They’re the bulkiest things I’ve ever seen and seem difficult to maneuver. It would take up half our trunk. Shane and I really like the idea of using slings or wearable carriers to tote our baby around. They’re only little for so long, and it seems nice to be able to snuggle with him (while keeping your arms free) than trying not to run over people with a stroller. Once he’s big enough, we’d probably get an umbrella stroller. Shane found a carrier he really likes and I’m going to research sling options. We might wait until he’s born so we can actually test em out.

Finally, the infant seat will last for the first 22 pounds or so, or until the baby is too tall to fit in the seat. That means that you’ll need to get another seat early on. Shane and I are taller than average height so I’m expecting a lanky baby. He could grow taller than the seat requirements before he hits 22 pounds. That could happen well before he’s a year old. We’d need another seat and then we’d have to store the old infant seat.

Yes, I hear some of you saying, “But your baby is due in December! You’ll have to put the baby in a cold car seat. And you’ll hate having to wake him up to carry him inside! Think of the children!!!”

We’re looking into getting a remote car starter so we can get the car nice and toasty without even having to go outside (yay fuel economy! lol).

True, we might wake him up by carrying him in our arms instead of in a carrier. I might be really regretting our car seat choice at that time. But, as I said before–babies grow so fast and you’ll need a bigger seat soon anyway. You’d have to lift him out of the bigger seat to carry him inside when he’s a little older.

So if you had an infant carrier-type seat and absolutely loved it and you think I’m nuts for not wanting one–keep that thought to yourself, please.
I’ve been second-guessing myself a lot lately regarding baby things. And believe me, that doesn’t help my confidence in being able to make decisions as a mother. If we have to learn the hard way, then that’s how it has to be. Kthx :)

… Back to the seat I’m now considering

There are a few convertible car seats that I’m considering, and right now, the winner is the First Years True Fit. It’s not the same as a 3-in-1, as it does not have the ability to morph into a booster seat.

Instead, I’d be able to keep him rear-facing for up to 33-35 pounds (and I forget the height maximum) and then turn it around to use as a forward-facing seat for up to 65 pounds or slightly over four feet tall. This seat ought to last until we’d need to put him in a booster.

Even though the minimum time to keep a baby rear-facing is just until they hit 20 pounds AND one year of age, it’s actually safest to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible. Their bones aren’t fully formed by their first birthday, and keeping them rear-facing drastically reduces the chance of them dying in a car accident. If my baby protests riding backwards because he’d rather see out the window, well that’s just tough stuff, McGruff. I’d rather he be safe, and that’s just one battle that I’m not going to let a toddler win.

I’m leaning toward the True Fit model because according to reviews, it accommodates newborns quite well, as well as older kids.

Now, I just need to take my car over to Babies R Us one more time and see if their store model will fit in our car (I suspect it will). It has a removable headrest that can be taken off until the baby hits 22 pounds or comes within an inch of the top. After that, the headrest goes back on and we’d probably increase the degree of recline so he’s sitting up straighter.

If it fits and we like it, we’ll probably buy it on Amazon. I’ve seen in-store prices for about $180, but on Amazon it’s about $160. I’ll get free shipping, no sales tax, and with some coupon codes and stuff, I’ll be able to get it for even less. Surprisingly cheap for a quality car seat that ought to last for several years, no?

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve spent countless hours researching car seats. There’s so much to consider! It really is easier to take it one baby item at a time, rather than trying to decide on cribs, carriers, and more all at once. Last night, I had a really long dream about car seats. It was a boring dream, full of chatter about different car seat features.

Hopefully this seat works out, and then I can move to the next item on our shopping list: Cribs!

Posted under Preggo | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Oh, car seats. There’s like a million choices.”

  1. Oh! I had never heard of that car seat! I looked it up on Amazon, it looks really nice! Much more suitable for an infant than the convertible seat we have.

    I think you’ll do fine using slings and stuff instead of the infant carrier, and you’re right about those travel system strollers, they’re beasts! I like our umbrella stroller way better.

    I’ve acquired 5 different types of carriers and plan on testing them all out once the baby comes and then writing my opinions on them. two of them are home made, so it might not be the same as the store bought versions.

    Jess last blog post..Meet and Greet

  2. Looking forward to reading your carrier reviews!

  3. We don’t use an infant car seat, either.

    I like the Britax Roundabout because it reclines well for infants and is padded enough to cradle even the smallest infant, yet sturdy enough to hold a very large toddler.

    I use a sling or Baby Bjorn to go to and from the car. Very rarely have I had a baby wake from being moved.

    Merediths last blog post..Dressing up a conference table

  4. I second Meredith (and was going to say the same when I started reading your post). We did the infant carrier seat, and it worked out great. When it was time to switch to a bigger seat we at first got an Eddie Bauer, because it seemed so comfortable and would last for a long time. But the customer reviews are correct: it is one of the hardest car seats to install. My husband and I worked on it for a solid hour and a half and got nowhere. When we at least tried to put our daughter in it to see how she would fit, I pinched her leg strapping her in. I returned it and got a Britax. Yes, they are a bit more expensive, but they are VERY user-friendly and a snap to install. They are quite comfortable, and my daughter has had no complaints.

    Good luck with your search!

    Lindsays last blog post..No Title Today, Just a Little Update

  5. We always had an infant seat and they are very convenient (and build arm muscle!), I can see why you wouldn’t want one. If you end up regretting it, it’s easy to go out and buy one, right? Our kids were all 26 inches by 6 months and had to move out of the infant carrier for height limits. You can make it 6 months!! I agree with you on the bulky travel systems! Yuck!

    My kids all stayed rear facing for a very long time. They never complained because they never knew any different… oh, and they couldn’t talk 😉

    We love the Britax seats. They are a bit more $, but so easy to install and very comfortable.

    Also, if you haven’t already (and this could only add to your obsession!), check out the book “Baby Bargains”. It helps you sort out what you really need and don’t need for baby and it rates all sorts of stuff, giving it a grade. Car seats are included in that.

    One more thing. Remember that car seats expire. The jury is out on whether or not that’s a bunch of hooey, but again – it’s our kids’ life we’re dealing with. I’m just not taking the chance!!

    I enjoy reading your blog :)

  6. Hi,
    I think you are doing the right thing – our daughter was out of the infant seat by 6 months and it seems so wasteful. It just sits in our basement.

    As far as a cost perspective, we bought the a well rated Graco infant seat for about 80 and then the next level well rated Graco seat for 70, so cost wise it came out pretty much the same.

    I was a fan of the infant seat because of an invention called a JJBundle me – its like this blanket thing you put in the infant seat, so it saves you from having to put a winter coat on the baby. But I hear you about carrying those things – so heavy!!! I struggled carrying it.

    I love slings too – I have one called the hip hammock I still use with our daughter who just turned 1.

    And as for a stroller – if you are tall – look into an umbrella stroller with taller handles. We don’t like our umbrella stroller because you have to hunch over to push it, it also doesn’t have a very smooth ride. I also do a lot of walking to stores with the baby – so we bought a Metrolite stroller, it is light and not as gigantic as some of those travel systems – yet still offers storage.

    Sounds like you have good plans in place! Have fun

  7. SB! I’ve missed you.

    Thanks for swinging by!

    I’ll definitely look for a longer-handled umbrella stroller. No sense in bending over and getting a bad back.Kinda defeats the purpose.

  8. Hi Kacie, I was just checking up on your pregnancy progress! Wow you’re getting so close! I don’t know if this makes you feel any better, but it was never “real” to me until Goose was a couple of weeks old. (He’ll be a year on Wednesday, and its definitely real as can be now!)

    As for the car seat thing – I hardly ever used my infant seat. For one – Goose hated it. I would always end up taking him out, and then I’d have a baby in one arm and a car seat in the other. For two – he grew out of it by about 7 months, and we had to upgrade.

    I strongly recommend the Evenflo Triumph. It’s only $140, comes in different colors and has good safety ratings (which is the reason I picked it). The infant weight goes from 5 to 40 lbs, so its lasts a while. (Rear and forward facing). Anyway, I don’t know if that helps, but I just wanted to let you know I agree with you!

    And, I cannot say enough positive things for the Ergo baby carrier. I am STILL using mine, A LOT. and for about 6 months, that’s only way I could get anything done and it was the only way Goose would nap.

    Good luck with everything!! – a good link

  9. I support the convertible car seat idea. For my first daughter we did the typical infant car seat. By 4 months we left the car seat in the car and were carrying her in and out of the house. By 7 months we bought a convertible car seat because it better suited her length. We have a rather tall family has well, which has obviously been reflected in both of my girls.

    For my second daughter, Abby, we went ahead and bought a convertible for her. We went with a Graco version. While I wasn’t too keen on it when she was a newborn, it works wonderful for her now at 7 months. Since she was born, we’ve been using slings, opposed to a huge stroller. My parents did purchase a huge whopping double for us, but we have a Subaru Outback (station wagon) so it fit alright in the trunk for us. We don’t use it often but for days at the zoo and what not it is nice.

    I’ve never heard of the True Fit though. Perhaps when we decide to have a third (when we try for a boy lol), I’ll look into those.

  10. I haven’t ever looked at that seat. I’m a big Britax fan and love our Marathon. My son is still rear-facing at 18 months old, and he isn’t little. I love your reasoning for not getting an infant carrier and agree with you totally. I did have an infant carrier with all my kids but rarely carried them out of the car in it. (Well, not my first son. I carried him in it a lot). Slings are the way to go for sure. I carried my last two in slings/carriers for a long time – still carry my son in my Babyhawk sometimes. I loved my pouch slings from for my son – SO easy and quick to just pop it on and pop him in. I was nervous because my daughter hated the cradle carry, and that seemed the only way with the pouch, but he loved it and he was a lot more upright in it than I expected. Not easy to nurse in, if that’s a consideration. I haven’t ever had an Ergo but everyone I talk to who has tried multiple carriers swears by the Ergo. I’ll get that if we have any more kids. I loved my Maya Wrap with my daughter and used it till she was about 2.

    Emilys last blog post..Saturday Night Life

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