Friday, August 7, 2009

Convertible time!

Ahh, remember the days when this meant a sunny day, top down, wind in your hair?

Now, it means ... BIG GIRL CAR SEAT!

We are officially in the market for the next car seat. Girly hasn't outgrown her bucket, but I almost have! There are only so many more times that I can hoist that thing into the center of my back seat before I throw out my back. It's funny that I picked her infant bucket because it went up to 30 pounds / 30 inches. (Most of them do these days, but not all). There is NO WAY that I could haul her around in that thing when she weighs 30 pounds!!

Our experience with the rental convertible car seat gave me a few insights, and I've picked up a few other tips along the way ....

- We have smallish, 4-door cars. The convertible seat in the rental was placed in the center, which is ideal, but this necessitated moving up the passenger front seat so far that it was almost not usable. (And my legs are short). This simply would NOT do for our cars that we use all the time.

- The harness-tightener-apparatus is my nemesis. I never feel like it is tight enough. Britax (and maybe other companies) offer a "Click and Safe" feature on their seats where there is an audible click when the harness is tight enough. Sold!! Unfortunately, I have heard from a friend and read online that this could give false reassurance - it clicks before it is really tight enough. So, I don't think I'll opt for the $20 upcharge.

- Consumer Reports is your friend. I bought an online membership when I was registering and I just renewed. The Britax Diplomat is their top-rated car seat for 40lbs and under at this time. It seems to offer some of the best features of the Britax Roundabout (smaller / lighter weight) and Britax Boulevard (true side impact protection, easy adjustable harness).

- Britax has a new seat - the Advocate. (Seriously ... who names these things?) I have read good things online, but it hasn't been tested by CR because it is too new. It has a new-fangled side impact protection device. I, of course, want the safest car seat for my child, but this seat is $100+ more than the already expensive Britax convertible seats. Is it really justified? At this time, without more evidence, I'll say no ...

- Ask around! I polled my friends about their car seats and (shocker) read tons online. (The Huz is about to throw up his hands and buy me every car seat on the market just to get me to shut up!). Amazon, Baby Bargains, and Consumer Search have good reviews. They all are user-opinions, but I think you can get a good general overview.

- There are also sites, like Car Seat Data , that gives user opinions about the fit of a specific car seat in a specific car.

Also, worth noting, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping your toddler rear-facing as long as possible - up to 2 years old. Our Girl has short legs, so we'll try to make it work.

The Britax Diplomat only goes up to 40lbs, while the Boulevard goes up to 65lbs. I think this will be OK ... most 3-year-olds are around 40lbs, so I think we'll be OK buying a new car seat at that point if needed. Plus, if we have a second child (!), we would need two car seats anyway.

Finally .... SALE! Many of the Britax car seats are on sale at Amazon through tomorrow. I encourage you to visit Hip Monkey to buy your seats - free shipping, no tax and they price match any deal on the internet. This organization donates proceeds from car seat sales to buy safe car seats for needy families. And, if you live near a USA Baby store, they will also price-match.

Safe travels!

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