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.
I'm short on time but quick answers to your questions.
1. Can't help there....I don't know of a cheap source. I would look for a single-layer fleece coat at a thrift store, that would probably be your cheapest option.
2. If you can pinch some material at the shoulder, along the line of the collar bone (so a horizontal pinch), it's too loose. Don't test with a 'vertical' pinch. It may be she just is uncomfortable in the Scenera harness, which doesn't come with shoulder pads.
3. Nautilus is not three-across friendly. Have you tried to put it outboard yet? I suspect doing that and purchasing a seat like the Graco Snugride for your infant would solve problems 2 and 3.
I'm also in the midwest and agree that my child needs more than a light fleece jacket. For us the wind is the issue. Just goes right through fleece. I've found a fleece lined jacket, like the lands end squal really works. It's as bulky as a sweatshirt and not compressible like the puffy coats.
I think that so many coats are too puffy, that the rule against coats started.
For my child, overalls cause me to let out the harness the most.
I also have the scenera. No problem with adjusting the harness, and I do adjust alot. You might want to take a look and see if it's not caught up on something.
Thanks. Yeah, a light fleece just will not cut it here. I sometimes do a light fleece under their heavy jacket so when I take the jacket off at least they have something. But, no, if I sent my son to school in a light fleece jacket they would probably call me up and ask what the heck I was thinking because they go outside even in below zero weather, and a fleece is just like a sweatshirt here. We wear them indoors! I'll check out the lands end one. What about thinsulate?
As for the scenara, our back seats slope up, and I have to have a towel rolled to get a 45 degree angle. The place to pull the strap butts right up against the back of the seat, and there is only about an inch or room to try to tighten it. I will take the seat out and make sure nothing is holding it up though.
Sorry, that should have said Graco MY RIDE, not Graco Snugride.
You don't send your child to school in the fleece. You take his heavy coat off and you wear the fleece in the car seat. He puts the thick coat back on before exiting the car.
We frequently dip well below zero here, (WELL BELOW last winter, lol). A light fleece in the car while it warms up is perfectly adequate.
Yeah, I've done that with the light fleece under the coat. For my son that is fine, except on days he goes to school. With all the stuff he has to take on and off for winter, I hate to add one more thing. For my daughter it's still a major hassle either way. I guess there is just no getting around that unless I buy one of those spendy ponchos?
If you are at all crafty, you probably could make a poncho. Microfleece does not ravel, so you can just cut it as needed. Here is a decent (and very quickly found, so maybe there are better) blog tutorial with her stab at making a carseat poncho from remnant fabric. I have been looking these up because I want to make them for my kids--but I have contemplated just buying kid-sized Snuggie-knock-offs when they go on clearance after Christmas. I think they could work well!
8g, 7g, 4b, 2g
Making a poncho is really easy. Heavyweight fleece doesn't ravel either, and the weight doesn't affect the harness (because you wear the poncho outside the harness) so get the heaviest fleece you can find.
The simplest version: Get a piece of fleece (fleece lap blankets are very cheap in a lot of places and will do the trick. I see them for $2-5 each all the time at drugstores or biglots.) Cut out a square the size you want. Cut a hole in the top for the kids head.
If you can sew you can make a multi layer one or put in a zipper or a hood.
I have a two layer fleece poncho for each of my kids (I made them). I live in a quite cold climate, but the ponchos are enough with a fleece jacket underneath and a hat for running errands in and out of the car. If the kids will be outside playing (like at school) I bring a winter coat to put on at their destination. But if we're just going somewhere I use the ponchos. Even if they get a tiny big chilly between the house and the store, they won't freeze and they can warm up when we get inside.