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Desperately seeking carseat help!

728 Views 23 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  octobermom
Let me start off by saying that I have been through ALOT of carseat posts here on MDC, so I know that I will most likely be spending quite a chunk of change on carseats in the very near future.

Anyway, so I've just realized that DD (41 lbs and 41.5 inches tall) has outgrown her seat, and DS (32 lbs and 35.5 inches tall) is on the verge--his shoulders are right at the top slots.
We are currently using Graco Comfort Sport seats for both of them.

So, obviously I need to get replacements ASAP.

I know that technically DD is big enough for a belt positioning booster seat (and DS meets the weight requirements), but I'm really not all that comfortable with them being out of a 5-point harness this soon (especially DS)!

Most of the higher weight limits I'm seeing on carseats (mostly Britax's) are 65#, is that high enough?
I'm just not sure that I should spend $250-300 on a seat that DD is only going to fit into for another year or so, and then need a booster seat at $150-200.

I know it's my DC's safety, and I shouldn't be thinking about money, but the truth is, we're fairly tight in that dept right now.
Even if we buy 'cheaper' seats for both the kids, we still need 2, and we also have to somehow come up with money to pay the Midwife for the birth of DC#3 (in Sept, but we need to pay her off by 32 weeks I believe), AND we need to get a bigger vehicle (read: minivan

Anyway,, safety is definitely paramount, but I want to make sure I'm going to get a good long time out of a carseat if I'm going to be spending so much, iykwim

Also, I could use one of the Graco seats for the baby, but I'm just not sure I'm comfortable with that having read all the safety information out there; so that means I should probably find a good long-use carseat for him/her too....this is starting to get overwhelming

Please! Someone just tell me what to do!!
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If I were you I would get a booster for dd when # 3 is born. Also don't know about where you are but here there is a law that says a child must be 4 years and 40 pounds to ride in a booster so your ds is too young/small. A convertible 5 point to lap booster might be a good option. No brand suggestions but all safety seats must adhere to federal guidlines to be manufactured, so as long as installed correctly any should work fine.
I'm in a similar boat, so I'll be watching here too. Dd just turned three is 42 lbs and almost 40 inches. i don't feel quite safe enough to move her to a booster.The 5 point harness is so much better.She's currently in Britaxthat goes to 65 lbs,but shoulders are almost touching the top slats.Are you supposed to move them when shoulders reach the top? For you, on the bright side at least you'll have every option available as dc#3 grows!!LOL I feel VERY confident with the Britax.It is comfortable and cotton,washes nicely and the fabric breathes so dd stays cool in the summer(Her infant carseat was peg perego in a synthetic, and she was always sweating.Needless to say by 4 or 5 months she was too big for it!) That said I'd skip the infant seat and go with something that can face front and back and grow with the baby.Hopefully when your dd grows out of the bigger seat #2 can take over? Sorry this is so long as I'm thinking out loud. I will say that ebay often has these items for sale and they are much better prices than retail.You just have to wait for the right one and bid.Good luck-keep em' safe and don't worry everything will work itself out! sending warmth your way...Hali
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Also you might not need to get a minivan, unless you want to. I fit two car seats and a booster in the back seat of my car fine. You should test it out to see if it'll work for you before you go spending a lot of money on a new van. Also vans generally get worse gas milage than a car so there is that to take into consideration.
I was in the same dilemma a couple months ago and did some research about car seat-booster combo's. Most models seem to be great as a carseat and mediocre as a booster or vice versa. I did find one that seemed to be well-reviewed as both, the Recaro Young Sport, which we got through Target's website. we figured that we could always return it at Target if it didn't work out; otherwise, the purchase would have been really risky since shipping it back would have been expensive. Even so, it's spendy at $250+, but at least we won't have to worry about a booster in the future and may use this for a 2d child.

We are extremely happy with it, esp because ds took to it right away and naps well in it. Great head protection, which I guess is a new feature these days, and cushie beneath the tush. Another drawback about boosters is that they don't seem to be well-padded, at least the ones I managed to find in the stores. We graduated from a Britax Galaxy, and so far I'm really impressed with the Recaro.
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We moved from a Britax Roundabout to a Graco CarGo booster/carset seat when ds was 3. He was beyond the height requirement of the Britax one (he's now nearly 5, is 41 lbs and about 44 inches tall). I don't like it quite as much as the Britax ones (it's harder to adjust)(, but it works well; it has a 5 point harness that still works for him at this height and can convert to a belt positioning booster when I'm ready for it. (I need to look at the height specs for that again).

It's for kids 20-80 lbs so it will fit for a while, and if you don't install the optional cupholders, it's not that wide. They run about $100.

For the new one, I would do a Britax Marathon (which is what we did with our second) - tha't's good up to 65 # and 49" (we have a problem with height, not weight for our ds). They are pricey, but if it'll last 3-4 years, it's worth it.

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I know this is a huge investment, but I would get:

Britax Regent for DD
Britax Marathon for DS
Bucket type seat for new baby.

By the time the baby's grown out of the bucket, which is likely to be a minimum of six months old and therefore likely at least a year from now, your DD may be big enough that you feel comfortable moving her into a booster. If so, move DS up to the Regent, baby into the Marathon. If not, get another Marathon for baby.
I recently just went through a carseat dilemna myself. I purchased the Britax Roundabout for my DD when she was out of the bucket seat. What I didn't really know (because I was new) was that it's a midrange seat and that for most kids, the 40#/40" limit would require another seat before the booster. I am fortunate that my daughter is on the small size and we got 3 years out it. I wanted to keep her in the 5-pt harness as long as possible but in the last several month, she had her first growth spurt and shot up to almost 40" (but is about 35#). Needless to say, I grappled with purchasing another Britax until I put her in a booster or just to put her in the Britax Parkway booster. In the end, I just moved her into the new booster this past weekend. She seems comfortable and the booster seat is a Britax after all and extremely safe. I would have prefered to keep her in the 5-pt a bit longer, but I have her in a seat for which she is the proper weight & height so I'm okay with my decision.

But that doesn't answer your question (but just know you aren't alone in this quest for carseats!). I might recommend the Alpha Omega Elite which runs from birth to 100 pounds. It converts to a belted booster seat (not sure if the link I pasted will work) but check out seats at They are having a sale right now too (including this seat).
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If were you, I'd consider skipping or at least putting off the minivan and buying three narrow seats, like the Radian (which you can find for less than $200 each). It "only" goes to 65 pounds, but that's more than 20 pounds away for your biggest, and you can easily get a belt-positioning booster for $50.

Originally Posted by tboroson
I know this is a huge investment, but I would get:

Britax Regent for DD
Britax Marathon for DS
Bucket type seat for new baby.

I agree.
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I would actually recommend against the Alpha Omega, as it is only useable as a harnessed seat until 40 lbs, and the top harness slots are no higher than the Comfort Sport's.

Ok, here is what I would do

Spendy version: a Britax Regent, a Britax Marathon and keep Newbabe in the Comfort Sports (assuming they are 5-point harnesses) until he/she hits the rear-facing weight limit of 30 lbs. Then turn Newbabe FF in the Comfort Sport, or switch him/her to the Marathon, DS to the Regent and DD to a booster. Or hey, this is the spendy version, get Newbabe a Marathon too.

Mid-range version: Get a couple of Fisher Price Safe Voyage Deluxes. they are $179 here:
These are stripped-down Marathons, and will last your kids until 55 lbs or when they gain 4" more in torso height that their current seats. Remember, most kids at this age put on a lot of height in their legs, not torsos. So when your DD outgrows the 55 lb limit, pass this down to Newbabe (In a Comfort sport or something) and get her a booster then.

Budget option: a Cosco/Safety 1st Apexes here: here with a couple caveats: these aren't as nice to use as the other seats suggested, and to use them as boosters you *must* have headrests in the back seats of your car.

Really budget method: Graco Turbobooster for DD, Evenflo Bolero for DS (it converts to a better booster at 40 lbs than most combos) and a Cosco Touriva/Scenera for Newbabe. This might fit 3-across in your current vehicle saving you a fair chunk of change.

I would feel ok about leaving the newbabe in the Comfort sports, especially rear-facing. Rear-facing is safest, and I honestly believe that proper installation and use is a bigger indicator of safety for a car seat than how much was spent. That said, the Britaxes are super duper easy to use, and therefore often safer

Also, depending on the size of your car you may be able to fit 3 across, especially if newbabe is in a fairly narrow seat. You may want to try something like 2 Safe Voyages and a Cosco Touriva in your car, and see if they all fit.

Lynn6, the harnessed limit for your CarGo is 40 lbs, or when your child's shoulders are above the top harness slots.
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Thanks ladies, I really appreciate the input!

One more question, what would you recommend for a bucket seat? Another Britax (since I'm going for it with the other two...

We do have a cheapo bucket seat that my IL's bought for DD, I think it might be a Graco, but I'm not positive. Whatever it is, it came as a set with a stroller.
We've used it for both DD and DS, but it does feel a bit chintzy, and doesn't have the side-impact protection.

Oh, that's another thing, neither the Regent or the Marathon have the side impact protection. It seems like that would be something that we would want to have, but is it that big of a deal?

Too bad we don't make small babies/kids, this would be alot easier!

Guess that's two questions

ETA: We have a Ford Focus ZTS, so it's fairly small, there's absolutely no way that we could fit another carseat back there with what it looks like now.

And TM, it doesn't look like it, but I started posting before you did, thanks for all the info!
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I can fit 3 acorss in my Taurus. I think that's what you need to decide, if you're really going to get that van. We're hoping to get one used for super cheap w/ no loan b/c we want to get a new house next year, but I know I can fit them all. I can get a rfing Alpha Omega, a ffing Radian, and a Graco Safeseat in the back seat w/ no problems. Ideally I think I would go w/ the Regent, Boulevard, and Graco Safeseat for the baby. Then when baby outgrows the Safeseat (min of a year), you could move your oldest to a booster, the middle to the Regent, and baby to the Boulevard. There are lots of options though like were mentioned, it just has to do w/ budget and space concerns.

ETA: Since we posted at the same time. The Regent doesn't have side impact protection, not much you can do there. I reccomended the Boulevard instead of MA which does the SIP. I also reccomended the Graco Safeseat which goes to 30# and 32", but if your other seats are 5pt harnesses and not expired, you could still use them for the first few months. We're getting the Safeseat to make sure we get the new baby through to tax time of 08 to get them a new Britax since AJ will hopefully get a Regent next year. He's at the top slots of his Radian now so just a few inches to go before he outgrows it.
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we were putting three in the back of a cavalier and this is what worked for us: graco infant seat without the base (obviously rear facing) with an evenflo chase convertable in the middle and a cosco alpha omega rear facing on the other side. We actually moved dd rear facing to fit the baby int he car too, it didn't work forward facing. she was 21 mos old. that's how they stayed until we got the van, which we had to do before ds2 needed out of the infant seat because we couldn't find any combination of putting the seats to get three others to fit in.l

edited to add: I also wanted to say we now use an alpha omega rf for ds2 the evenflo chase (which we LOVE it's super comfy for dd and changes to a booster later, but only goes ff) for dd and an alpha omega as a booster seat for ds1k, and I would NOT recommend the AO for a booster seat. the seat belt doesn't fit right in the seat belt adjuster and gets caught often. We'll be moving him as soon as we can afford to buy him a regular graco booster.

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I'm a little late but just wanted to say we fit 3 car seats in the back of a mazda protege for over a year! It's a tight fit but it worked.

My kids are now 1, 3 and 5 yrs old. First we had a graco turbo booster, a graco cargo booster (harnessed) and a peg perego infant seat. I really hated having my dd in a belt positioner even though she met the requirements. So we bought a Apex 65 for her, kept the Graco Cargo seat for the 3 year old and put our youngest rear-facing in a Britax marathon (in the middle of the other two) I don't think this combo would have fit had we decided to switch him forward facing, but with the 33 lb rf limit that britax's have it wasn't an issue... It was important for me to have them all in 5 pt harnesses, even though technically my older two weigh enough for a bpb. I opted for the safer option.

We finally as in on tuesday bought a minivan and I couldn't be happier.... But I'm sure you'll end up with one someday, until then it is possible to fit three seats in a row. Oh and I wanted to mention I could not install the seats on my own, DH could do it but for some reason I'd try and try and get frustrated and give up, it like a puzzle figuring out the combo of seats and which spot to put them in.

oh and another benefit of a 5pt over a bpt when you have 3 in a row is that you don't have to try and fit your hand in between the seats to buckle it up, that was a PITA.

Goodluck mama
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we got one of these boosters for dd for my mom's car. it has some mixed reviews on target's site but overall we're very happy with it. it is 5pt harness for now & goes up to 100 lbs as a full-on booster.
Oh, don't know if it really matters, but we're planning on having one more DC after this one
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We're also probably going to have at least one more dc but that won't be for at least another year, maybe two, so then oldest ds will be 6 or 7 and probably out of boosters all together (he's very tall fo rhis age). Right now our biggest challenge is where in the van to put the kiddos, as ds2 wants to have his car seat turned around ff (he's 14 mos old and fusses in the seat) but right now he can see his siblings (both in the back row, ds2 in the middle row, we have a middle row of captain chairs) if we move him ff we would probably move ds1 to the middle row, but right now we leave the second captains seat folded down so we can easily buckle the other two in. what a pain LOL I guess we're just going to have to use trial and error to decide where to put them. also ds1 and dd fight a lot being next to each other, and osmething else to consider is that so meone cannot sit between them on the back, the seat is too small after their car seats, so our van truely only fits 4 children in car seats, and two adults.

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Just in case I'm not the only mama who forgot about this..There's a complete guide of carseats including height/weight limits etc on the aap website.I think it's There are many that were mentioned here, as well as many I didn't know exist.It sounds like the Regent has quite a range of weight and height.I hadn't even heard of it before!
Hmmmm, this Radian is looking pretty good to me.
It's still spendy, but a hundred dollars cheaper than the Britax Boulevard that I was thinking of getting. That'd be $2-300 we'd be not having to spend, and they look really safe from what I've seen/read so far.
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