I know I have been MIA around here the last month, but life is starting to slow down a little, so I had a relaxing afternoon to catch up
I am a CPST-I (Child passenger safety technician, instructor) Basically, I have been a carseat tech for 6 years and recently also became an instructor. So carseats are my hobby and one of my passions
I will help you gals as much as I can
First the best carseat is the one that fits your your car, your child, your budget and can be used correctly every time (the biggest issues - the misuse rate is 75-90+ percent of seat). Having said that - there are defiantly some that are better than others in different circumstances.
PlumeriaSky - 3 across in the back seat of a Patriot may be awfully tight
the new Britax convertibles (G3 and G4 seats) actually fit newborns quite well. You have to call Britax for a small baby insert to put in them (it is free) but I have seen average size newborns fit them well. The first few generations of Britax convertibles did NOT fit most babies, even though they were rated from 5 or 6 lbs and up.
The Keyfit 30 is a great seat and installs really well in most cars, and fits most babies (even little ones) very well. I put my 4 lb nieces in these just 6 weeks ago and was very impressed.
The Chicco nextfit should also fit little ones very well. That is what my 2 year old is riding in right now and I am very impressed with it.
The Cybex seats are really awesome! I have an original Aton (infant seat) that we used for #5
and will be using for this baby as well. I participated in a lecture with the directors of the company yesterday and am very impressed with their new seat, the Aton Q, but it is over $300, and that is a ton for an infant seat!!!!
Graco seats are good seats, and easy for most people to find to purchase. They fit most babies, and are relatively easy to install
. Just make sure to try and get front adjusting harness (strap comes from between baby's feet to tighten harness) instead of behind their back. It is really hard to tighten properly every time with the rear adjust ones.
Also, please, please, please find a current CPST to check your seat! A list of current techs can be found at http://cert.safekids.org/
click the find a tech link
And feel free to ask questions! It may take me a day or two to get back, but I will answer them!