Car Seat Recommendations? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 02-06-2011, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi ladies!

This will be our first child so one of the biggest items on our list for purchase is a car seat. There is SO much information on the web about car seats that I thought I would ask you ladies before trying to really sort through it all.

So, here's what we need. Safety is our absolute #1 priority. DH and I both have smallish cars, so size of the car seat is a consideration. I would prefer a seat that can be both rear and forward facing, though it's not a necessity. We both intend to carry baby in a sling or wrap most of the time so I'm not too worried about a seat that I can take out of the car and haul around a lot.

What car seats have you used the you loved (and why)? What seats have you used or seen that you didn't like, and again, why?

Married to my wonderful DH 5/2010, Mom to DS1 Kayden 7-14-2011 wild.gif and DS2 Jakob 8-29-2013 babyf.gif


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#2 of 9 Old 02-06-2011, 07:29 AM
 
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The first concern should be getting a seat you can keep rear-facing as long as possible. (If you haven't yet encountered the research on rear vs. front facing for older children, here's a quick overview: http://thestir.cafemom.com/toddler/113687/rearfacing_car_seats_arent_just)

We have the Britax Roundabout and could not be happier. It's very easy to install in different kinds of cars, and it works for babies 5-35 pounds, so for us, we can use it for our now 16-month DS rear-facing till he's at least 3. If you have a huge toddler you won't get as much life out of it. It can be turned front-facing (legally when the baby is 1 year or 20 pounds) but that's comparitively very unsafe so I wouldn't ever think of doing that.

Britax is great. They have a few other carseats that go to 40 pounds rear facing and 60-70 (I think) front facing after that. So we may go with the Marathon (or there are a couple others--you can look on the Britax site) for our DS and hand down his Roundabout to the new baby.
When DS was very little, the first 2-3 months, we had to wedge receiving blankets on either side of him so his head wouldn't flop to the side, but he was comfortable and most importantly, secure. Then he grew into it more. It's a great, easy to use, very well designed carseat!

We got it on Amazon for a good price with free shipping.

ETA: Oh and I probably should've mentioned that the Britax Roundabout also has fantastic safety ratings!
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#3 of 9 Old 02-06-2011, 09:31 AM
 
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My favorite website for carseat information is car-seat.org.  it's a forum but you dont even have to join to ask questions.  they are VERY helpful and VERY knowledgeable about different seats and even what seat might fit best in you cars model and year. 

 

The safest carseat is the one that fits properly in your vehicle and that you can install in use correctly every time.  It doesn't matter if it's a $40 Scenera or a $280 Britax. 


That being said, radicaleel is right.  If you go for a convertible seat (the kind that go rear facing to forward facing) you want one that rear faces the longest.  Rear facing is safer than forward facing so your child should stay rear facing until the limit of the seat.  So my son will be rear facing to 45lbs in my car and 40lbs in hubbys.  Who knows how old he'll be then!!!  Here is some information on rear facing http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html

 

I have a Graco My Ride 65 (rear facing to 40lbs and forward to 65) and a Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL (rear facing to 45lbs and forward to 80).  If you have smallish cars or cars pre 2002 (when LATCH started being required), the Radian will not be a good bet for you as it does not work with every seatbelt/buckle combo and has a very high back (good for tall kids) so isn't good for small cars or tall front passengers.  In my opinion, there are seats with equal or better safety ratings that Britax and for less money.  The Radian wasn't cheap, dont get me wrong, but I had a Britax and got rid of it because the Graco is just as easy to use and is half the price.  If you lurk around on car-seat.org they will be able to point you in the direction of some test results from Britax and why a lot of the CPST's don't use them.  They're a fine seat, all seats sold in he US have to meet certain criteria, some just go above and beyond differently.  Some Britax, however, like the Radian, now have a rear facing tether which makes even less movement in the event of a crash and that is a very good feature.


If one of your vehicles is a truck where the back window is right in front of baby, I would say you should definitely get a seat with either an anti rebound bar, the the True Fit Premiere, or one with a rear facing tether. 

 

if you can, find someone (search for a CPST in your area on car-seat.org) or a store in your area that has the seats you're looking into buying and try them in your car.  Not all seats work in every vehicle although if you have the LATCH system it makes it much more likely.

 

I bought the Radian from Diapers.com because they price match and have free shipping and returns so if it didn't work I could return it for free.  I got the Graco from Babies R Us when they put out a coupon.  (shameless spam- if you decide to use diapers.com let me know and I'll give you my referral code so you get 15% off your first order of most things and I get $10 credit ;))


Jenica- Wife to R & mama to C 8/27/09, my little blonde bombshell and D 7/23/11, whom we love so much we gave him an extra chromosome      cd.gifwinner.jpgfemalesling.GIF
 

 

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#4 of 9 Old 02-06-2011, 11:36 AM
 
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Radian's are not usually good choices for smaller vehicles rear facing, so I've heard.  I've not actually used one.  The new Britax infant seats have much higher height/weight limits than they did previously, up to 30 lbs. and 32 inch length.  Just as a comparison, my almost 13 month old is 20 lbs and 29 inches, however, he's only 50th percentile in height.  I imagine he'd have a good 6 more months rearfacing in it if he was in that carseat.  I only suggest that because many of the convertible carseats are almost too big these days for rearfacing in smaller cars.  The Britax roundabout is probably another good choice too though.  So far, we've only used Britax carseats and have been very happy with them.  We're planning to get a Sunshine Radian or two very soon though so that we can fit 5 carseats in our car (our oldest will only be 8 and will at least still be in a booster.)

 


Alisha, Army wife to Nathan , Homeschooling mama to Scheeli (May 2003) , Bronwynn (Nov. 2004) :, Piper (Nov. 2007) , and Wesley (January 2010)
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#5 of 9 Old 02-07-2011, 09:13 AM
 
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Just a piece of advice if you ever plan on flying to a destination where you'll need a car seat (and I recommend using one in a plane regardless once the baby is mobile)--get a Cosco Scenera just for that purpose.  If you hit a sale, you can get one for $30, it's safe, it's VERY light, and installs on the airline seat super easily & snugly (and no worries about the flap belt buckle getting stuck behind the seat).  No need to lug your heavy regular one, and you won't have to spend time detaching/reattaching the car seat if you drive to/from your home airport since you'll have a loose car seat dedicated for air travel.  (It's also good to have an extra loose carseat for grandparent use, or carpooling in a friend's car.)

 

For your actual question, I'd recommend Britax or similar.  Having used the Scenera on several trips, the difference in a no frills v. a higher end model--for ease of use, twisting of straps, extended life, quality, extra side impact protection, etc.--price does make a difference.

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#6 of 9 Old 02-09-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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You might want to check out http://www.consumersearch.com/car-seats and http://www.consumersearch.com/baby-car-seats. Based on these recommendations, some other research, and my own inspection of these car seats, we got the Britax Chaperone (rear-facing only) for my car. We also plan to get the Britax Roundabout 55 (convertible) for my husband's car and for when the baby is older.

 

New guidelines were issued for convertible car seats last year, and the Roundabout 55 has been updated accordingly. The Chaperone is also a new model. 

 

Our baby hasn't arrived yet, but the Chaperone is MUCH sturdier than any other car seat I have ever seen. I worked as a nanny for 5 years during graduate school, and I have a lot of babies in my extended family, so I've dealt with a lot of car seats. 

 

You should also know that the new recommendations are to leave children rear-facing until they are 2 years old. (The old guideline was 1 year.) This means that you need a car seat that can be rear-facing with a much heavier child. The Roundabout can hold up to a 40-lb child rear-facing, which should definitely get you through the second birthday! It can hold up to a 55-lb child forward-facing.

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#7 of 9 Old 02-10-2011, 07:06 AM
 
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I've used lots of different car seats over the course of having children and have settled on one I love the most. With my DS we used a Evenflo Triumpth Advance, a Radian, a Britax Roundabout and Marathon, and now finally he's in a Graco Nautilus. My DD has used a Snugride, a Roundabout, and is now finally in a First Years True Fit. I love the True Fit the most out of all of them.

 

Britax seats typically do not have harness slots low enough to safely harness a newborn (at or below the shoulders for rear facing) I've heard this has been improved upon but I don't know much about it. My DD couldn't safely sit in her Britax until she was 4 months old. I also do not like them for extended rear-facing because they don't have a whole lot of space for leg room, but that is a matter of comfort of course. Once you get out of infant seats, not all car seats are created equal in terms of harness slot height either, this proved to be a challenge for my huge 3 year old. If you're looking for a seat with longevity, do a search for harness slot heights for individual seats to compare. This isn't so much of an issue with my tiny almost 2 year old, who is still comfortably RF in her True Fit on the second harness slot. My three year old can no longer fit in his (because of the harness slots) so it'll most likely be passed on to this baby. My biggest pet peeve is having to buy many seats for one child because they continue to grow out of them, since my kids tend to hit max height before weight very quickly.

 

With the True Fit, it has a removable headrest and recline so it'll fit more like an infant seat in a car. Once the baby reaches 22 pounds or their head reaches a certain height the headrest has to be placed on it. It'll RF to 35lbs. and FF until 65lbs. For interior leg-room, it has by far more room than I've seen in any car seat I've used. My DD has just started to slightly bend her legs to sit comfortably now. It's also cheaper than a Britax. The other recommendation I'd give is the My Ride 65 but I've heard it has a slightly lower shell height, it does rear-face 5lbs. longer though.

 

You can post in our Family Safety forum here and give the make and model of your car and someone should be able to tell you what seats will fit best rear-facing.


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#8 of 9 Old 02-11-2011, 09:58 AM
 
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Lots of good stuff has been said here.  I second the http://www.car-seat.org/ recommendation.  Those ladies know their carseats and the response time is phenomenal for questions!

 

One note for owners of small cars who are thinking of bypassing the infant bucket seat and just getting a convertible from the get-go.    Infants need to be reclined at a much greater angle than do older children who are still rear-facing (I believe it is 45 degrees versus 30 degrees).   If you want your child to be rear-facing as long as possible, then you would want a rear facing convertible with a higher shell (because once their head is within one inch of the top they need to be turned forward facing).  It can be difficult to get the taller convertibles to fit at the reclined angle needed for infants if you have a small car.

 

I have a Toyota Corolla (fairly smallish car) and I can fit both a First Years True Fit and a Complete Air rear-facing for my toddler (both of which can be used forward facing as well).  These convertible seats both have fairly high shells which is okay because I do not have to recline them very much for my toddler.  However, I would have some issues if I were trying to get them to lean back at the right angle for a newborn.

 

A previous poster mentioned that the top part of the shell can be removed on the First Years True Fit and this allows it to be more reclined and not take up so much room front to back.  This is a great option for newborns, and once the top shell needs to be put back on the child is old enough that it no longer has to be reclined so much.   The Britax Roundabout also has a smaller shell height, so it is often recommended for rear-facing in smaller cars.  One caveat about the Roundabout is that children often outgrow the Roundabout in height before you really want to turn them front facing.  (But maybe by that point you have a second child you can pass the Roundabout to and get a taller convertible for your first…)

 

No matter the brand or price, the safest carseats are the ones installed correctly in your particular vehicle.  So a badly installed $300 Britax is far less safe than a properly installed $35 Scenera.  Most Babies R Us’s will let you take their floor models out to try in your car.  I’d play around with your particular vehicle and what fits the best for you.

Good luck!


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#9 of 9 Old 02-13-2011, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After doing some car seat shoppingyesterday, I think we've tentatively decided to go with the Graco Snugfit 35 infant seat. A big plus is that it seems to be readily available in my area (we don't have many places here that sell baby stuff, besides Babies R Us and Walmart) so we'll be able to try it out in the car before purchasing. I'm thinking that by going with an infant seat with this high of a weight capacity, by the time we switch to a rear facing convertible, it will be able to be up at the 30 degree angle instead of the 45 degrees so we'll have a bit more room.

I also fell in love with the Britax Advocate I think it was, and I'm pretty sure that's what we'll get for a convertible once we get there, but I don't think it will fit in our cars at the newborn recline angle. I'm resigned to getting two different seats now, so that's fine smile.gif

Has anyone used the Graco Snugride 35? What are your opinions on it, good or bad?


Married to my wonderful DH 5/2010, Mom to DS1 Kayden 7-14-2011 wild.gif and DS2 Jakob 8-29-2013 babyf.gif


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