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Monday, October 16, 2017

All of Our Car Seat Choices and Recommendations (From Infant to Booster)

 
We did it- we just bought the last car seat that will ever go into my car for Caroline! She's been in the infant seat, a convertible seat, and now is in a combination car seat that will go from a 5 point harness, to a high back booster, to a backless booster.

Car seats are so intimidating to us. Figuring out which ones to purchase (what features we want to have, how much we want to spend, and how easy the installation is going to be) is always daunting. We've been very happy with our choices, however, so I wanted to take a moment to share our thoughts.

Here you'll find a list of all of the car seats we've purchased, along with my reviews of these seats and our impression after having used them:

1. Infant car seat

Our choice: Chicco Key Fit 30

Reasoning: We based this decision on 2 factors:


  • The stroller that we wanted. I did not want a huge, bulky travel system. I wanted something that was lightweight, easy to maneuver, easy to travel with, but still great for walks. I wanted a stroller that was compact and didn't take up the entire trunk of my car. The perfect stroller that matched all of this criteria was the Chicco Liteway- and it was super affordable!
        
  • I wanted something that would be a good fit for a long time. Chicco is one of the few brands that went up to 30 pounds. This didn't end up being a factor in the end, because we switched to a convertible car seat as early as we could.
Impression: The bases were very straightforward to install (we purchased 2...one for each car). The car seat was easy to get in and out. The straps were easy to tighten and position correctly. The car seat clicked into the stroller and worked like a charm! The stroller was everything I'd hoped and was nice and compact. 

Would we go this route again? YES! If I had this to do all over again, I'd buy the exact same stroller and car seat.


2. Convertible car seats


Our choice: Britax Bouldevard Clicktight Convertible 

Reasoning: I had a few key reasons for getting this seat.


  • Easy to install. Yes most, if not all car seats have the latch system that connects to your car. But, did you know that once your child passes a certain threshold in their weight (dependent on the car seat), you actually aren't supposed to use the latch system? Crazy right?

    Well that means we need car seats that are easy to install using the belt path. This car seat has an easy "clicktight" system that tightens the belt down and makes for easy installation (as easy as a car seat install can be).
      
  • Every try and put a child into a car seat, only to have to find the straps and buckle that are now underneath the child? It is a huge pain! This seat has slots for the straps to slide into, that hold them out of the way when you are getting your child in.
     
  • Safety. I guess I forgot to mention this above, but I check safety ratings through consumer reports before narrowing down my choices.
       
  • Cost. I want an affordable seat. It doesn't have to have bells and whistles. It needs to work well, be safe, and be priced reasonably so I can afford it. 




Impression: My favorite feature is the slots that secure the straps out of my way when I'm putting my child into the seat. It really was an easy install as car seats go, and as a bonus it is super cute! We got the kaleidoscope color. My only wish is that this seat came with a cup holder- which now it does. I was able to sit comfortably in the front seat, as this seat didn't take up an enormous amount of space even when rear facing. It is one of the smaller and more narrow seats.

Would we go this route again? Absolutely! It was a great price for this type of seat, and it worked very well! My daughter will fit in this seat for a long time!

3. Convertible car seat for travel

Our choice: Cosco Scenera Next

Reasoning:  Two main reasons for this car seat purchase:

  • Inexpensive- This car seat needed to be functional, but it wasn't going to get used very often, so we wanted to go inexpensive for this purchase. This car seat was going to be in my husband's truck. We rarely go for family outings in the truck, so we didn't care if it was super comfortable or fancy in any way.
        
  • Lightweight- This is the car seat that we were planning to use for travel. We didn't want to have to lug a heavy car seat around the airport. This car seat is insanely light and easy to carry!





Impression: On both accounts, this car seat held true to it's claims. It's inexpensive, and so light I can carry it with one hand. It is perfect for travel, and perfect for an extra seat in the car that is rarely used for transporting your child. My only complaint is that over time, the straps have become hard to tighten properly. It just isn't holding up well.
  
   
Would we go this route again? YES! So, even though the straps are now super hard to tighten down, we got our money's worth. This is a $50 seat. It served it's purpose for travel and use in my husband's truck. Our daughter outgrew this seat right before she turned 3. It was the perfect seat for what we wanted to use it for.

4. Combination car seat

Our choice: Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Combination (Harness/Booster)
 
Reasoning: Caroline outgrew the Cosco Scenera that was in my husband's truck. So, we decided to get her a combination seat. Combinations seats like this have the 5 point harness that she currently needs, and they turn into a high back booster seat, and eventually a backless booster seat. This is the last type of seat that we'll have to purchase.


  • Cost- We really like to go middle of the road on long term car seats when it comes to price. This seat is affordable, and still has great safety ratings.
      
  • Easy Install- Installing car seats can be a nightmare. I read many reviews indicating that this seat had an easy install. I've learned that installation is at the top of our list of most wanted features.
      
  • Cup holders- Our current seats do not have cup holders. May seam like a small feature, but it is such an important one. Our almost 3 year old needs to be more self sufficient in the car. That means having a place to keep things- whether it's a little toy she's holding onto, or her cup. I can't be reaching back and handing her these things. 


Impression: As my research had indicated it would be, the car seat installation is easy. The cup holders are amazing, and the seat was affordable. The seat is comfortable and doesn't take up much room. It is very easy to transition to the high back booster, and backless booster when it is time.

Would we go this route again? YES! We like this seat so much, we ended up putting it in my car (the main family car), and moving the Britax Boulevard convertible into my husband's truck. This is the last seat we'll ever have to purchase for my car, and it was a great find. We'll probably buy another one when Caroline outgrows the Britax in my husband's truck.

Something we've learned about car seat install: We've been doing it all wrong. We are the parents out there for hours trying to figure out how on earth the seat will ever be secure enough and what we are doing wrong. I recently realized that we've been waaaay too picky when it comes to seat movement. The ONLY place you should check for movement is at the belt path. If it moves less than 1 inch at the belt path, it's installed correctly. If it moves more than 1 inch when you tug at the base, or the back, or any place other than the belt path- it does not matter. Only the belt path movement matters! I wish I'd have known this back when we installed our first seat.


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