I have a 13 month old who is currently using a First Years True Fit Elite car seat. I bought it because it seemed well-padded, all lined with safety foam, and has an anti-rebound bar. We are expecting a second baby and are on a tight budget these days. Our health insurance company provided a free Evenflo Titan 5 carseat. It seems fairly bare-bones-only foam in the head area, skimpy padding, no anti-rebound bar etc. I know that all car seats pass the same basic safety tests and who knows how much the side-impact claims are marketing or based in reality. So-I am struggling with whether to try to come up with the funds to buy another True Fit car seat or "downgrade" my daughter to the Evenflo carseat once the baby comes along. I guess the worst case scenario that came to mind was an accident in which the True Fit provided better protection and the other kid was not as safe. Phew-sorry for the long-winded scenario. Thoughts about balance between safety and frugality/living on a budget? Did you prioritize a bells and whistles car seat even while on a limited income or felt comfortable with a basic model?
Inexpensive vs Expensive Car Seat and Budget
I never had a car set with all the bells and whistles.11 years ago when I got ds his car seat half the stuff today didn't exist. I'd say if you qualify for a FREE car seat take it. I always felt safe with my sons seat. Honestly I think car seats/baby stuff are like technology, the 'best' today is going to be outdated tomorrow by something else.
I've never felt comfortable buying used car seats but I've never felt a need to buy a new one that is "top of the line" either.
We have an Evenflo and a Graco, both of which were under $80 at full price. I feel they are safe and have been happy with them. I'd take the free one and not worry about it too much.
thanks for the perspectives-I tried hard to approach baby gear from a perspective of utility, safety, and durability and ignore all of the marketing and conspicuous consumption/status with it. A car seat was the one place where I was afraid less expensive=less safe (I am paranoid about car accidents)
As long as it fits your child, your car and is installed correctly and used properly every time, the seat will be safe. If you are planning on using this seat with a newborn, I would just check in the Family Safety section to see if it fits newborns well or not (I can't remember). I have the TrueFit w/rebound bar for my DS2, and I know that they fit newborns really well.
My main concern safety wise was that the True Fit had EPP foam throughout the whole thing and the anti-rebound bar while the Titan only has foam in the head area and less padding. But, thank you for the feedback that if properly installed the Titan should be as good. Crazy that the carseat manufacturers like Britax can charge a fortune if the features they add don't add much safety wise. Good to remember that sticking within our financial means will be the best move long-term
When I was looking at carseats, I asked the salesman, "Is there really that much difference between the least expensive and the most expensive carseats?"
He said, "In an accident are you going to wish you had the one that was just a little bit better?"
He certainly knew how to get me to buy the more expensive.
I agree there are still good carseats that are less expensive....as long as they are fitting snugly and installed in safest way possible. The head is the most important part to protect - most new seats I've seen have styrofoam or something similar (instead of just straight hard plastic) behind the head. I'm not so worried about padding in other body parts (except under the bum b/c it's a PITA having an uncomfortable kids...but by no means a safety requirement! Why I liked the Britax marathon).
That said, I'm trying to live frugally and got sucked into getting a more expensive carseat (sunshine kids) so I could keep dd#1 who is forward facing in the middle back seat, and have the rear-facing infant (due this fall) sideboard (instead of both of them sideboard).
I'd consider where the seat fits and how it fits and be sure the try out the Evenflo in the car.
Or....how about taking the free seat...selling it...and then buying the one you like with the difference???????
Good to hear these perspectives-the general consensus I am hearing is that features like extra EPS foam and an anti-rebound bar aren't really proven to be safer and that the only features a more expensive carseat will get you is possibly more padding/easier straps. I guess I found with some other children's products the cheapest items usually didn't last as long/were flimsier but it sounds like car seats are abit more standardized.So basically the expensive car seat manufacturers have pushed their seats as safer and added $200 to the cost! Tha tbeing said, side-by-side the True Fit is a more comfortable seat with nice features like no re-thread harness. But, the Evenflo Titan seat is free so that will probably be what I go with.
The Titan rear-faces to 35# and forward-faces to 40#, and will likely be outgrown forward-facing by height well before 40#. Most of the "expensive" seats have higher capacity both rear- and forward-facing. So while you *are* paying for plushness and features, you're also paying for a seat that will last considerably longer. That may make the higher price worth it to some parents. But it certainly doesn't make the Titan (or Tribute, or Scenera, or Avenue, or other budget seat) any less SAFE to use as long as it fits -- it just means that you'll need to plan for another seat down the road. (However, by the time your baby outgrows the Titan, your older child will probably be ready for a booster, and you can just move baby into the TrueFit.)