Short story: tiny back seat ('04.5 Jetta wagon), big car seat (complete air 65), head bobbing when sleeping.
My LO is 11 months, 23 lbs., 70th for height. He has been in RF in the CA65 in the middle, slightly more upright than ideal, but he isn't in it too much, so it has been fine. But I recently had to make a long (10 hour, round trip) drive alone with him and wanted him to be able to sleep more comfortably, so I installed on the passenger side, more reclined, with the front seat way forward. It worked better for sleeping and I liked being able to reach back and hand him things which I am not able to do with him in the middle. I also realized that we had been "borrowing" the side latches for the middle install, a VW no no I now know. I would like to keep him on the side, but would also like to be able to use the front passenger seat. Which brings me to...
Another car seat, just until we turn him around? Am I overreacting? We don't have a bunch of expendable cash, but can swing it if it makes sense. I was thinking the Cocorro, especially since I am fine with the the CA for when we eventually turn him around. The Britaxes all seem too big still, but there are so many available used... I guess the other option would be to install the CA more upright on the side to use the front seat and then do the more serious recline just for (rare) longer trips. Even more upright though, it will be a really tight squeeze.
Anyway, thoughts, ideas, commiseration would be most appreciated.
Right now, Dorel is officially insisting that their rear facing car seats *must* be installed at 45 degrees, although they have stated that the seats also pass testing in more upright modes. Due to huge feedback that this 45 degree recline is both impractical, and less safe for anyone but newborns who need it to maintain their airways, Dorel has stated they will be shortly modifying this 'requirement'.
Head bob is not dangerous unless. Unless your child is physically complaining, it's perfectly ok if his head drops to the side or forward when he naps. Kids are flexible in ways that adults are simply not As long as the seat is not more upright than 30 degrees or so, I wouldn't worry abou it.
Thanks for your thoughts. So frustrating! As a well-educated older mom, the baby stuff cabal is so incredibly infuriating.... (mini rant alert). For instance, if you need to buy a styrofoam pool noodle to properly install a carseat, it should be taken off the market and sent back to development! Or at least it should come with the pool noodle!! And insisting that the only safe way to use it renders it useless in probably 55% of cars on the road for the first 2 or 3 years of most kids' lives, knowing that people will do what works anyway just reeks of CYA, don't call (sue) us when something happens to your kid because you didn't follow our directions (wink wink).
I shouldn't have to spend hours and hours (and hours) on internet forums trying to figure out what seat will fit in my car, what angle it should be installed at for each month of my LO's growth, whether the straps should be above or below his shoulders depending on which direction he is facing, whether I need some after-market piece of plastic to prevent [whatever scenario is possible and should have been factored into the design in the first place]. I know a lot of this is in the manual, but a lot of it isn't. Not to mention the seats sold used without the manual. Most people aren't doing this research and even those that do (me), still get it wrong. A lot. It shouldn't be this hard.
So now I continue to battle with whether going off-label with the install is putting my child at risk. While sitting in the front seat with my knees in the dashboard.
(And I am not worried about head bob being dangerous, but just that it wakes him up a lot which is hard to take when I don't have another adult in the car to soothe or entertain as the circumstances warrant.)
As a technician, I must advise you to follow the manual, but I can also reiterate that Dorel has admitted (after much pressure, LOL!) that an upright installation also passes all testing.
The 45 degree recline is a nod to the instability of the newborn's trachea. That head bob you've observed, harmless in your 10 month old, can actually obstruct the airway of a newborn. Since this could potentially kill a baby, Dorel simply decided to defer to the least common denominator, rather than applying a little common sense (since the Complete Air, and many other of their large convertibles actually don't fit a newborn well, it's sort of ridiculous to have a caveat to make the seat safe for newborns, while making it less safe for the children who actually fit in the seat!)
Another thing I can tell you that may help you puzzle through this is this: it is unsafe for *you* to be a distance of fewer than 10 inches from the airbag. The driver's seat should be pushed back as far as possible while still allowing safe operation of the vehicle, both due to the airbag, and due to the proximity of the steering column and windshield.
As far as the pool noodle concern goes, keep in mind that cars vary wildly. For example, a seat that I have used rear facing in my spouse's car for years (and has a nice, very upright installation there), cannot be installed in my minivan at all because it creates recline bordering on 50 degrees. The slope of the seat, the angle of the seat bight, the postion of the anchors, whether or not there is contouring in the cushion, all of these can drastically change the recline.
The Cosco Scenera is an example of a seat which frequently needs a pool noodle, but it is also a seat that is available very inexpensively and is a sound option affordable to almost everyone who must purchase a convertible. If Dorel redesigned it with a large, impressive recline system, it would bump up the price point and make the seat too expensive for its target audience.