Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Baby Gear: Car seat and Stroller



In my humble opinion, one of the most important purchases you make for your baby is the car seat.  Unless you live in a total urban environment, the car seat will become one of the most used baby items in your arsenal.  And it has a super important job: protect baby in case of car accident.  I mean really... it's a super important purchase.

The next big question... what about a stroller?  For the first 8 weeks, you can't even put your newborn in a regular stroller.  You pretty much have to keep them in the carseat.  So how do you decide on a stroller that works with your car seat without spending HUNDREDS of dollars on something that will hopefully fit in the truck of your car?

I've had a couple of friends who are having their first baby's ask my opinion on how to pick a car seat.  There are a MILLION different options.  How on earth are you supposed to know which one is the right one?

Hence, the birth of this blog post.  (Get it... new baby... birth...)

Here's the short answer... any car seat will work.  After hours of research and purchasing the most obscure car seat around (apparently) I finally came to this realization.  If they are selling it in the United States, it had to pass car crash studies, weight tests, and probably countless other tests.  Any current car seat (without recalls and with all the right parts) is probably going to function properly and be safe.  With that in mind, here are my tips of choosing the right car seat.

1.  Know your brands.  Graco.  Chico.  Britax.  Peg Perero.  There are a dozen different brands out there.  But it isn't so much about which brand is better (see comment above).  I think part of it is knowing what brands are the most used.  Do you have friends that have had one of them?  Did they like them?  What didn't they like?  Do any of the brands have current recalls?

2.  Examine them.  Is the cover easy to take off to wash (because you will have to wash various body fluids out of the car seat cover at some point).  Henry liked to have blow-outs on the way daycare EVERY DAY.  We cleaned the carseat A LOT.  Are there little crevices in the buckles that will be hard to clean?  Is the handle easy to maneuver?

3.  Try them out in the store.  Car seats are heavy on their own.  They are even HEAVIER when you are still using them for your 25 lb 9 month old.  Is it easy to carry one-handed?  Does it hurt your arm?  Is it easy to get out of the car seat base?

4.  Find out if your friends have any extra accessories you can borrow.  If you are like us, you will have at least 2 cars that will require a car seat base.  If your friend has an extra base you can borrow, it might be worth it to look at purchasing the same brand car seat as that base.  The bases are somewhere around $50 a piece.

5.  Know the stats.  What is the weight and height limit on the car seat?  Does it go up to 25 lbs or 35 lbs?  How long do you want to use the car seat?  We wanted to use the carseat for at least the first year, so we found one that went up to 35 lbs.  It turns out Henry got too tall for it so we have to switch sooner than that.  But it is good to know the weight and height limitations of the car seat before you purchase it.

Let's talk stroller...  First of all, I wouldn't recommend buying the travel systems where the giant stroller and car seat go together.  The strollers are HUGE.  And heavy.  We borrowed one initially and it barely fit into the back of our car.  Not to mention they are super expensive.  I recommend getting a car seat that has a matching stroller frame you can use.  The frames are light-weight, cheaper, and easy to snap the car seat into.  We purchased one that had a removable stroller seat, so we can still use the stroller even now that Henry is too big for the carrier car seat.

{Apparently they don't make the one we purchased anymore, but this one very similar 
(and more expensive unfortunately)}


Once you have made your car seat purchase, the next step is making sure it gets installed properly into your car and that you know how to put the baby in it.  Our hospital and local fire department put on car seat clinic every other month.  We took our car seat and the manual to them and they showed us step by step how to make it was level and put in properly.  They also showed us how to use the different features of the car seat and how to properly put a baby (or in this case, a stuffed animal) into the seat.  If your hospital doesn't do this, most fire departments have someone that can help.  Just call ahead and ask if they can check it for you and when would be a good time to stop by.

So there you go!  More than you ever needed to know about how to pick a car seat and stroller.

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