Friday, June 1, 2012

A review of my car seats

It was a sad day when I realized that Orion was outgoing his infant car seat.  My little baby was getting so big and the convenience of the infant car seat is hard to let go of.  You can pop the seat on your stroller or carry it into the house and keep the baby happily sleeping.  It was also really easy to install our ChiccoKey Fit seat plus I knew it was safe.    I miss my infant seat because Orion always wakes up when I get him out of his car seat.  You can often find us hanging out in the car in our driveway so Orion can finish his nap.  He only seems to be able to nap on me or in the car during the day but is great at sleeping in his crib at night. 

The convertible car seat is a whole different story.  It was hard to choose which one to buy and I spent a lot of time doing my homework.  I wanted something safe, easy to clean, and that used the latch system.  I also wanted to spend less than $175 because I knew we would eventually be buying a second car seat for our other car.  It is hard enough to get out the door, I did not want to have to worry about installing the car seat on top of everything else.  We ended up getting this Safety 1stComplete Air 65 Convertible Car Seat

I spotted this seat in a different color during an episode of Modern Family so I figured if it was good enough for a fake family on TV it had to be a decent seat.  I also made the mistake of watching the video on the Safety 1st website which reduce me to a blubbering mess.  Plus, our pack and play is made by Safety 1st and we love it!  The company is called Safety 1st so they must be putting safety first, right? 

I would have loved a Britax but they were out of my budget as they start at $199.99.  I did not want to cheap out on a car seat because I worried that a $55 car seat would not be safe enough.  I took a look at how much we could afford to spend and $175 was as high as we could afford to go per seat.  With my coupon, we spent about $150 so I was able to stay within my budget. 

Would I buy this seat all over again?  No and this is why.  It may sound silly but the removable cup holder really sucks.  It is cheap and flimsy.  The weight of a sippy cup will cause the cup holder to tilt and Orion won’t be able to reach the cup.  The straps on this seat are very hard to tighten and loosen.  At first I thought they might be catching on something or that they would slide with more ease after they were broken in a bit.  This has not happened and I have to wrestle the straps to make sure they are tight over Orion’s shoulders.  I do think this seat is safe but it is a hassle especially with a squirmy little one.

Another issue is that this seat isn’t so much convertible in our car.  Convertible means that it can be forward and rear facing.  We installed it as rear facing and a few weeks later had it inspected at a local car seat safety check event.  It was hosted by Baby Blossom in Reston.  Local police and car seat safety experts were on hand to ensure the safety and proper instillation of our car seat.  It was a great event and each car was checked out by 2 people because it is always nice to have an extra set of eyes checking things out.

Right away, the policeman saw our car seat said it was not installed properly.  The back of the car seat was touching the back of the driver’s seat.  This would cause all the impact in an accident to be absorbed by the car seat and our baby.  Now, this was not some small jelly bean car but a Scion XB.  I love my car and find it to be pretty roomy.  But there was no way for us to have this seat rear facing without driving with our knees under our chins.  The kindly policeman (I could not stop looking at his firearm) asked what Orion weighed (22 lbs), how long (28”) he was, and how old (10 months and 3 weeks).  He suggested that we turn the seat forward and assured us that he would be safe despite that new guidelines that babies be rear facing until 2 years old.  So Orion now rides forward facing which I know is controversial at his age.  My next blog post will talk about why babies should be rear facing but this one will focus on reviewing our car seats.

We are a two car family and until recently Orion was unable to ride in our second car.  We had a Smart Car because it gets great mileage and my husband spent a lot of time parking in DC.  This car is great at creating parking spots but will only accommodate 2 people.  Patrick had been obsessed with finding a new car that would be easy to park, get decent mileage, and fit a baby.  I suggested he test drive a Fiat and that is just what he ended up getting.  Next challenge was to find a car seat that would safely fit in our new tiny car.

We got the Evenflo Securekid 400 Booster Car Seat.  It was within out $175 budget and we spent around $125.00.  This seat is the next step in the progression of car seats.  It will become a booster seat using the car’s seat belt and will fit Orion to 100 lbs!  This seat makes me dislike the Safety 1st even more because the straps on the Evenflo are so very smooth they glide with ease, like a hot knife through butter.  Getting Orion in and out of this seat is a breeze.  The cup holders are also very solid, not like it matters much because Orion loves to throw his cup on the floor.  Having such a small car, it is very easy to retrieve the fallen cup.  I am very happy with this car seat!  I did not expect a company known for making bottles to make such a nice car seat.  

I did not know until recently that Babies R Us will let you try car seats out in your car prior to purchase.  You just give them your driver’s license and take the floor model you want to try out.  If you are shopping for a car seat, I highly recommend testing it out in your car before you buy.  It is way easier than getting it home and out of the box only to find that it won’t fit.

Please, please, please do not buy car seats on Craigslist or second hand.  You cannot be sure that these seats have not been involved in accidents or if they have been tampered with in some way.  Car seats also have expiration dates and should not be used beyond 4 years from the manufacture date.  If you know and trust the person selling the car seat and they can assure you that it has never been in an accident that is a different story. 

More than anything please drive safely whether you have kids in your car or not.  Drive the speed limit, this is for safety reasons but also for the sake of fuel economy.  Stay focused, do not text while driving or do your make up or attempt to retrieve a fallen sippy cup while in a moving car.  Try not to rush, leave yourself extra time when getting out of the house and stay calm while driving.  I know this is hard but speeding will only save you a few minutes and will stress you out regardless.  Be the better person, let people in when merging and stop for pedestrians to cross the street.

After we bought the convertible car seat, I totally dragged my feet on installing because I did not want to let go of the infant seat.  Do not be like I was, buy the seat when you are ready to use it then install it and move on.  That way, if you don't like it after using it a few times you might have a better chance of returning it depending on the return policy.  Do you have a car seat that you really liked or hated?  Please tells about your experience with car seats in the comments below.  

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