I'm due with my second child in early July. The husband and I figure it's about time to start acquiring the necessities for this little one, and since we need a new car seat, I thought I'd ask you all for a recommendation.
We live in Chicago and do not own a car. We are a part of a car sharing service and rent one of those cars, on average, 3-4 times a month (though hopefully that will get cut down a bit). We rent/borrow a car for trips to visit our families, again, on average, 3 times a year. When we rent a car through the car sharing service, we usually rent a fairly compact car. The cars we rent/borrow for longer trips tend to be bigger (and will be for certain once this kiddo makes her appearance).
When my son was born, he was 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 21.5 inches long. Now, at nearly 4 years of age, he's more than 40 pounds and somewhere around 41 inches tall. He's a thin, tall, strong kid. He rides in a Graco Nautilus 3-in-1.
Assuming that our daughter has roughly the same build as my son, could you all please recommend a car seat for us? I have no need for a bucket seat since we'll have to install/remove the base often, but I'm okay with starting little girl in one if that's safest. I'd like to be able to use the car seat for as long as possible, since it won't be getting much use overall.
If I've left out any pertinent information, please let me know. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
We also live in the city and do not own a car but borrow/rent one every once in a while.
First we went for the Radian as it is tall, narrow and folds for storage (we have a small space).
Unfortunately I live in Canada and bought my Radian from the internet and it is a US one that is not legal to have here. So we had to get another seat. The complete Air.
The Radian has many pros and some cons.
can fold for storage.
is tall, so will fit a kid for a long, long time
is narrow, so can fit in smaller cars
very good safety ratings
low sides, so the child can see out the side windows better
HEAVY. Very heavy. (not a problem if you do not have to carry it far)
Can be easy to install in some cars and harder to install in others.
can be harder to install rear facing than other seats (in my experience).
So far we like the CA. It is bulky, but we have more storage now.
It is light.
Baby seems to like it.
Has these weird side impact air bag things. Seem safe and cosy, but also make it harder for baby to see out the side window.
Is also good for years. But doesn't seem as tall or narrow as the radian.
Me 40 . Partner to mamacolleen 33 . DD born July 2009 . Twin boys born Nov 2012.
We are a family that loves
The Complete Air isn't suitable for newborns, unfortunately. I have the seat and like it though. If you could borrow an infant seat for the first few months, the Complete Air could be a good choice after that.
You could do a Cosco Scenera - they are super cheap (like $50) and fit newborns well, fit in small cars very well, lightweight, etc. They don't last a long time though. My DD is tall, and outgrew hers RF around 2yo (by height). She was around 36" tall at the time. She is long-torsoed though, a long-legged kid would last longer. Depending on her height and how long you are willing to rear-face her, it may last her long enough to go from that to your DS's Nautilus, if you buy him a dedicated booster.
The Radian is a good option too - it's pricey, but it folds and would last a looong time - most likely until she is old enough for a booster. I'd be concerned about install issues though, since you use multiple cars on a regular basis. It also can be very long front-to-back which may case issues in smaller cars.
The TrueFit may work for you also. It has a removable headrest that makes it smaller when she's little enough to need a 45 degree angle. It fits newborns well, but it is heavy and wide. It has only a 35lb RF limit, but one of the tallest shells on the market, so it can be a good choice for a tall, thin child. If you are ok with turning her FF when she reaches 35lbs, it will likely last you until booster age. However it is highly unlikely you'll be able to put a TrueFit next to a Nautilus, so you'll need to put them both outboard.
I'm in your situation and really like my combi coccoro - light, easy to install (I've only used the latch, though, as we'd always borrowed/rented cars with one). It has a newborn insert and fit my newborn really well. He's still rear-facing happily in it, though the shell is a little on the short side, and he will probably outgrow RFing a little after 2. If that's not a huge concern, I think it's a great seat for the non-car owner, especially since it's small/light for a convertible and fits really well in compact cars/.
The diplomat won't fit most newborns correctly (the bottom slots are pretty high). I've had one and it was an *excellent* seat, but it doesn't last all that long. I would probably do a true fit, graco myride, or an evenflo triumph advance.