Today I installed our new convertible car seat. To some it might seem late, as Little W is already 11 months old. But we kept her in that puppy until we could no longer. I bought it online and it was cheap. It was probably the cheapest one you could get. I had seen the “Car Seat Safety” course we offered at the pregnancy center (Earn While You Learn Program – awesome) so many times I knew everything about car seats and all of the regulations. I knew that all car seats needed to comply with strict regulations, and everything else was pretty much fluff (especially with infant seats). If we had thought Little W would spend a lot of time in her car seat we would have gone for a more padded one, but she was born in the spring and soon enough it was sling wearing weather and I wasn’t planning on carrying that cumbersome seat around. No extras on this little seat. (At $45 how could there be?) It could be a pain to change the straps, but I dealt with it. It was a good little seat and we still have a few years to use it. This is the Evenflo Discovery 5.
We decided to do some serious research with our next car seat. Many of the convertible car seats out there offer appealing extras. I wanted something that could be used rear-facing as well as forward-facing competently. It had to be sturdy and comfortable, since it would be used for much longer than our previous seat, and by a child that would be more active. I wanted it to fit well in our car. And then I wanted something a bit more. I had seen the reports about car seats and their protection against side impact crashes. We always try to keep our car seat in the middle of the back, but sometimes that is not an option. There are a few seats out there right now that pay special attention to side impact safety. We just happen to find the perfect car seat that had everything we were looking for.
We chose the Safety 1st Air Protect 65. It can be rear- facing until 40lbs and forward- facing until 65lbs. It has these wonderfully tested guards that reduce the strain from side impact wrecks. It is extremely padded. And the best surprise – it is SO easy to fit. I had no idea how hard it was to get the right fit on our older car seat until I saw how simple it is to fit this one. Let me tell you – it is wonderful. Just sit the babe in and pull on a strap while pushing a button. Easy. The only complaint that many had was that it is too big to install rear-facing. Well, I put it in the middle seat of our Toyota car and it did fit. The angle is right about where it should be, too. (It just has a parallel line, not a level to measure with.) I did have to move the seats way forward to install it. But I put both seats back and they are not kissing the dashboard. They are a little farther up than they were before, but my 6 foot 1 husband had no problem driving to work. I am pleased to know that Little W can ride rear- facing for another 20 pounds if we so desire. (Even though most babies graduate from rear-facing at 1 year, it is still considered the safest way to travel as a toddler and if it can be done is recommended.) But I will be honest. This car seat cost us about 4 times the amount of the first one. But I believe that this season of car seat buying requires a nicer seat, since it will be used about 4 times as long and has some great safety benefits. So yes, I recommend buying a cheaper car seat if you won’t be using it constantly and don’t plan on having your baby live in one. And yes, I recommend buying an expensive car seat if it can be used a long time, has great (extra) safety features, and can withstand a growing, wiggly toddler.
What were the important factors you took in consideration when buying a car seat? Did you upgrade/downgrade when you switched to a convertible, or stay with the same brand?
PS: Sorry I don’t have action shots of me putting in this huge car seat.. It really wasn’t as monumental as some of the reviewers would like you to think!