Originally Posted by erigeron
I'm so lost on this car seat stuff. How on earth do you decide what seat to buy? I'm seriously considering just buying the same seat that my friend bought. If it'll fit in her tiny car it'll surely fit in mine. Is it okay to put a newborn in a convertible seat?
You can put a newborn in a convertible seat, but different brands may not fit a newborn very well.
For my purposes, I want a convertible seat that has a high weight limit for RF and for FF. So I look through the seats with that in mind and rule out the ones that have lower weight limits.
Seats like the Britax Marathon, Boulevard, and Advocate go RF from 5-4 lbs and FF up to 70 lbs. They're made for kids who are 49 inches or shorter (standing height, which is 4'1"). They tend to be bigger seats, both taller and wider than a lot of other convertibles, so if you have a super tiny car it might not fit well.
The Radian carseats by Sunshine Kids also have high weight limits. The Radian 65 is RF 5-40 lbs and FF up to 65. The Radian 80 goes FF to 80 lbs. The Radian XT SL is RF 5-45 lbs and FF to 80 lbs. The Radian seats are tall in the back, but the seat isn't as high off of the vehicle seat as the Britax seats are which does make it easier to get baby/toddler in and out. They will fit a child up to 53" tall (4'5"). The major drawback to the Radian seats is that they are HEAVY because they're made with a steel frame. So if you have to move the seat a lot I wouldn't opt for this one. But, they do fold up flat for storage or transport if necessary.
Combi convertible seats only go to 40 lbs FF, which seems like a waste of a seat if you're keeping baby RF until it's 35 lb weight limit. You'd have to buy a whole new seat to FF your baby. There are a TON of seats that fit into this size category. Actually, the majority of seats sold now are 35 lbs RF and 40 lbs FF. With the previous recommendation of turning baby FF at 20 lbs, you could still get 20 lbs of use out of the seat FF if you turned baby that early. With the new recommendations I suspect that the rest of the carseat manufacturers will be altering their products for higher weight limits both RF and FF.
There is a Cosco Alpha Omega seat that says it's for up to 100 lbs. It's only used with the 5-pt harness up to 40 lbs and then it's a belt-positioning booster up to 100 lbs with the vehicle seat belt. They usually don't clearly mention that on their packaging.
The Evenflo Momentum goes FF to 65 lbs, and 40 lbs RF. It's about the same size as a Britax seat is, but I don't think it's as tall. Evenflo also sells a Triumph that goes up to 65 lbs.
Graco has a My Ride 65 that is 40 lbs RF and 65 FF. Grace makes pretty good products overall and I've always been happy with their products. This seat also comes with an infant insert that can be removed when baby gets bigger. That's a nice feature to have since anything that does not come with the car seat has not been crash-tested with the seat and shouldn't be used.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggo SIP goes 5-30 lbs RF and 40 lbs FF. You can then switch it to a booster seat for the kids that are 40-65 lbs. I wouldn't recommend this seat either. It's really expensive and the weight limits on it suck, frankly.
Recaro ProRIDE is 5-35 lbs RF and up to 70 lbs FF. They're bigger seats too, about the same size as the Britax seats are. The height limit is for kids under 50 inches tall (4'2").
The Safety 1st Complete Air65 is RF 5-40 lbs and FF to 65 lbs. It has a FF height limit of 52 inches (4'4") and it also has the infant insert. This one has some nice head support on the sides as well and it's reasonably priced.
The First Years has a couple of seats with higher weight limits. The True Fit, True Fit Premier, and True Fit Recline all go 5-35 lbs RF and up to 65 lbs FF, and hold a 50" tall child.
I hope that helps a little bit! One thing I highly recommend is to go to your closest major baby products retailer and test out various car seats in your vehicle before purchasing one. You'll need to make sure that it fits the width of the seat, the depth, and the height of your car. A seat that makes you have to drive from the dashboard isn't going to be worth the money. Most of the convertible seats come with some kind of infant insert that can be removed later. Just remember that if it doesn't come in the box, it was NOT crash-tested together. Adding all those little extras from the store can affect the integrity of the carseat and make it not perform the way that it is supposed to in a crash. After you find a seat that you like, that fits your car, take it to a Safe Kids certified installer so he/she can help you install it and check the fit. The CPST should go over the safety aspects of how to use the seat and how to install it correctly.