Welcome to Mommy Mondays, the day of the week when I'm more of a mom than anything else. I promise I'll only subject you to pictures of my child on this one day. Unless I decide otherwise. Which happens.
We were so happy with our Orbit Infant Travel System that I just assumed that I would purchase the Orbit Toddler Car Seat when it was time. In September, Pigtail was still only eighteen pounds but she was almost too long for the Orbit Infant Car Seat. I went to my favorite baby store prepared to purchase the Orbit toddler seat and was surprised when they told me that they didn't highly recommend it.
Not for safety - I believe it meets all requirements - but from ease of use. When I explained that I was hoping to use the seat in the same way I'd used the Orbit Infant seat, they just didn't think I would be happy with it.
What I wanted from the Orbit Toddler Car Seat:
1. The same swivel capability in the car. (This makes getting the baby in and out so easy.)
2. To go from the seat to the Orbit stroller at the touch of the button, just like I did with the infant seat.
3. A design and look I didn't hate. If I'm going to be dealing with a product every day, I don't want to cringe every time I look at it.
The people at the baby store warned me that what I wanted wasn't possible with the Orbit toddler car seat, but I didn't believe them. We had been so in love with the function of the Orbit infant seat that I was just sure the toddler product would be just as convenient.
I should have listened to them.
When we got the Orbit toddler car seat, I was surprised at how heavy it is. HEAVY. A whopping 37 pounds. Which means I wouldn't be able to take her in and out and onto the Orbit stroller easily or by myself. And (it's possible they told me this at the store and I didn't listen) it only docks on the swivel base for rear-facing. So when I turned her forward in a few months, there would be no more swiveling.
I headed back to the baby store. The seat they highly recommended - and what everyone around me seemed to recommend - was the Britax brand car seat. The Britax car seats are considered very safe and almost everyone I know who uses one likes it. My concern with the Britax is that it is very bulky, taking up more than its fair share of space in the back seat, and it sits the baby up really high. It might be nice for the baby's visibility, but for me I think it would make it harder to get her in and out of.
I remembered that my sister-in-law Beth had worried about getting three car seats across her back seat when she had her third child earlier this year. She found one brand that was narrow enough to allow for this: the Sunshine Kids Radian ($276). She told me that it had become by far her favorite car seat of the many that she owned. I looked it up online and the reviews were equally positive. Beth liked that the seat was a little lower, enabling her toddler to crawl up into it and position herself. And I liked how narrow the seat was, allowing adult passengers in the back to sit comfortably.
There were so many things I liked about the Sunshine Kids Radian, but it still weighed in at 23 pounds. Too much to easily transfer between cars or travel with on the airplane. I did all sorts of due diligence on the car seat decision, going to different stores and picking them up and placing Pigtail inside. In the end, I decided that our main car seat would live in my car and I ordered the Sunshine Kids Radian. We've been using it a little over a month and so far I'm really happy with it.
For travel, we purchased the uber-lightweight and reasonably priced Evenflo Tribute 5 ($56). I'll write more in the future on our new travel system, but the feather weight of the Evenflo Tribute 5 makes airplane travel with a car seat feasible for me and the price means that I won't cry and cry if it suffers a little wear and tear on the trip.
(And honestly, if budget were a determining factor in the your car seat decision, I highly recommend the Evenflo Tribute 5 for price, weight, and style. Of course it's up to each family whether or not the differences in the pricier seats are worth it.)
I always thought picking a car seat or any of the other big-ticket baby items just wouldn't matter much. "Just go with what you like best," I thought. I didn't really understand that there's more to it than that. But I'm learning. On an expensive curve.
Which car seat do you use? Was it an easy decision or did it take a trial and error period for you to figure it out?
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