I have a 6 year old who is in a Graco Nautilus and a 16 month old who is 17 and a half pounds and in a Cosco Scenara (rear facing). I didn't intend to put her in this seat, but we went out of town and I ended up needing a seat so bought the cheapest one with the idea that it would be for DH's car just in case we ever need it. But I got sick of her bucket seat and so switched her recently for the time being. So here are my issues:
First, we live in Minnesota. Everyone that I know thinks I am completely nuts to take my kids coats off to strap them into their seats. I have never met anyone else who does this, and I've been told I have OCD and that I'm going way too far for something that is such a tiny risk. It is a major inconvenience to be perfectly honest. My son takes his off himself and puts it back on, so that is no problem. But, I put my daughters coat on and zip it up before we walk out the door. Then, I take it right off again and put her in her seat, and then lay it back over her. When we stop somewhere, I take her out of her seat, and then try to balance her inside the car (so she won't get too cold) to put the coat back on. My lower back has been killing me and she is starting to absolutely hate going anywhere because of all of this craziness with the coat. I've seen the carseat ponchos, and they seem like a good idea, but she already has a perfectly good coat that I got for a great deal at a thrift store. I'm not used to dropping forty bucks on a coat and I can't sew. So, I guess I'm looking for specific links to cheap options for a coat thin enough to be used in a carseat, and warm enough to be used in Minnesota. Or, directions to make a poncho with minimal sewing involved. It's just not reasonable here in Minnesota to tell people to take coats on and then off over and over again every time we get in and out of the car. On days I run errands this is a nightmare. My daughter freezes, my back kills me, it takes forever to get her in and out of the car, and everyone looks at us like we're idiots. And no, I can't use a blanket, because it is very rare that when we are out and about I would have nothing else to do than wrap my arms around her with a blanket. She's usually riding in a cart, or I have bags in my hands, etc.
That leads to my next question, the tightness of the straps. When we started using the Cosco I could no longer loosen and then tighten the straps because they are basically impossible to tighten once the seat is in position. I have to put major pressure on the straps with my fingers bent in a really weird way to get it to move at all, and it usually takes several times doing this. So, I leave the straps tight and just try to clip and unclip them adjusted. But if I tighten them as much as they are supposed to be (enough so I can't pinch anything) my daughter screams and says "owie" when I go to clip them. I can see that the straps are digging into her neck and then I have to loosen them and tighten again, which is nearly impossible. So, is this an issue with the scenara in particular, or with all convertable seats? And am I making the straps too tight? I feel like I'm doing it as much as they say I need to, because if they were looser I would be able to pinch some material on the top. But, it is so tight she sometimes cries in a car a lot and I'm just not sure what I am supposed to do.
And that leads me to my next question, I'm wondering what a good convertable seat is where the straps can be tightened and loosened easily, and that RF's for as long as possible? I was looking at the Radian but no store in our area sells it and I don't want to order it online and then have it not fit. Right now she is riding outboard in our Saturn L300 because her seat won't fit next to her brother's Nautilus. The Radian looks so tall, I'm not sure it would fit outboard, and I don't know if it would be narrow enough to fit next to a Nautilus. I wanted a narrow base because we are still undecided if we are having one more child or not, and I don't want to have to buy a new car or all new seats if we do. But the Nautilus is so wide I'm not sure it will be possible to get three across.
If anyone has any insights into these issues I'd really appreciate it.