Between an infant carrier and the multistage car seat I choose the one that would last the longest, the seat that looks gigantic with a tiny newborn. It’s the Mad Hatter seat for infants. The car seat is probably never the first purchase, but because you cannot leave the hospital without one in which your newborn fits properly, it really should be higher on the list.
The only two problems with using the big car seat is:
1) The hospital is used to everyone choosing the newborn seat which detaches from it’s base and carrying it in as to checkout of the hospital so that the nurses may ensure the infant fits inside properly. Sadly that is the only parental requirement prior to leaving with a new baby, but that’s a rant for another occasion. I have no idea what people do when they only use public transit because the nurses seemed baffled by our choosing the big seat and refusing to take it out of the car to show them how well it swallows up our newborn. Typically the only time a baby doesn’t fit is when he or she is a preemie and then the hospital rents out a special car cradle type “seat”. Even though our newborn was a giant nine pounds (as opposed to a minuscule nine pounds), it’s similar to carding people at the bar who are quite clearly over 21.
2) Our other problem was our car. We don’t drive giant SUVs. I have a small pickup truck and Kurt drives a regular size four-door car when he’s not on one of his motorcycles, which I have dubbed “the mistresses”. Because infants in this state are required to sit rear facing until they are one year AND weigh twenty pounds, and because we have a regular sized car, we must put Sophia’s seat behind the front passenger’s seat. If we have a passenger other than Sophia, they must make a choice between sitting in the back with the baby or sitting in the front seat which cannot move back enough to allow for such things as knees and feet. Only not-a-nanny fit in the front seat comfortably. She’s about five foot one, and that’s with wheeley shoes.
We don’t mind these inconveniences and as I’ve stated many times, I’d much rather take Sophia out of her car seat and carry her in her Ergo carrier against my body than lean over as I carry up to a twenty pound infant and her seat with one arm.
What we sought in a car seat, forget about Consumer Reports, once the choice is made between the two major categories of infant carrier verses a multistage car seat they’re all very similar. All car seats are tested and all of them meet certain requirements. All of them, like seat belts, fail to have a 100% life saving guarantee. As a matter a fact, Consumer Reports tested many seats and most failed their overly zealous testing. They later retracted their findings and many news outlets ended their articles with, “Both the magazine and the government continue to emphasize that no matter what, the safest place for a child in an automobile is strapped into a car seat.” for fear that people would stop buying baby seats. The fact is the best baby seat is one that fits in your car and is properly installed. With that in mind the way we narrowed down our selection was by taking the car seat off the store shelf at Babies R Us and setting it on the van bench seat they provide to get an idea of how much room a particular seat needs for a rear facing set up. Most people think that van seat is just for the pregnant people to sit on, but it’s not.
We then pulled the front seat of our car all the way forward and measured how much space was between the back of he back seat and the back of the front seat. It may be necessary to use a rolled up towel under the baby seat to ensure the base is level, and then the back of a rear facing baby seat should not touch the back of the front seat of the car. There should be about two inches between the back of the baby seat and the back of the front seat of the car so that in the event of a collision, there is a buffer between the two and the baby seat isn’t crumpled. Check with your hospital for free car seat installation inspections, if possible, prior to baby’s arrival.
We considered three other things while making our choice. I pulled the cover back on the sides of each car seat looking for Styrofoam padding on advice from a friend of mine. It made sense to me that the Styrofoam sides would provide better cushion to a baby head than hard plastic.
The baby harness adjuster should be easily accessible whether the baby seat is rearfacing or forward facing. Some of the older types of baby car seats lacked that featcher, and according to the hospital many parents apperantly left the harness at the same setting each use. That is not the proper way to secure a baby to the seat.
The third thing we looked at was the cover itself. Kurt took into account color and pattern. He didn’t want a flowery frou-frou girly girl seat in his car. He didn’t say anything to me, but apparently, I’m not to pick car seats while pregnant ever again. I really liked some girly things while I was pregnant that now turn my stomach – ah back to my normalcy. It’s probably a good thing I already had a baby name in mind before becoming pregnant. My car seat cover concern was washability and if it wasn’t dryer friendly it should at least dry quickly.
Since choosing our seat I’ve found another thing to consider, the level of toxins in the car seat, which you can fret over find out about at HealthyCar.org. The seat we chose in an Evenflo Triumph Advance DLX Sandbox, and rated at one, which is a low concern. Of course the seat they actually rated was a 2008 and ours is a 2007, details.