She Says… Bouncing Back and Carseat Conundrum

Whew, that was a rough few days there. The virus is finally gone and I have my precious computer back. Unfortunately now I’m digging my way out of my insanely huge inbox that piled up while I was out of commission.

C’est la vie. On to the next thing.

The next thing, at least today, is carseats. Let’s tawlk about carseats.

When Owen was born, we bought this bucket seat, the Chicco Keyfit 30.

It has a pretty high weight limit for a bucket seat. It is easily clipped in and out of the car and has an easily washable cover (perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE for a car puker). It coordinated with our Snap-n-Go. Worked great. Being able to unclip the whole seat on the rare occasion that Owen fell asleep in the car was hugely helpful, and having a place for him to sit in restaurants and on the go was imperative. I think we made the right choice.

Since a few days before Owen was born (remember how preggo I was when we bought our minivan?!), we’ve had 2 cars. In the beginning, when we were living in the city, I generally walked everywhere and Benjamin took the car. So the carseat pretty much lived in the car. Since we moved, I’m driving a bit more, sometimes even into the office, and Benjamin is often driving elsewhere in his car. In the first few weeks at the new house we had several occasions where Benjamin drove away with the carseat and I wanted to drive Owen somewhere. FAIL. Thankfully it was summer so I was able to walk or take the train where I needed to go. Anyway, slowly we realized that having 1 car seat and 2 cars wasn’t going to cut it.

At this point Owen’s car puking was getting worse and we thought that a more upright “convertible” seat would be our best bet. So, after scouring prices, reviews and asking for rec’s (and asking ourselves, “Do we really need a Britax?” over and over and over again, because goshdarnit, their marketing is awesome and for obvious reasons you feel like a terrible parent if you don’t buy the most expensive seat for your most precious cargo), we decided to go with this convertible, the Evenflo Symphony 65 e3 All-In-One.

So I’ve been using the bucket seat in my car (which we really only use for short trips like to school or the grocery store), and the convertible seat has been in Benjamin’s car for longer trips. It has worked out great, and Owen seems to be a bit happier in the convertible than he was in the bucket (except, as you know, it hasn’t helped the puking issue). We’re crossing our fingers and toes that the puking will stop once we turn him forward-facing, but we’re going to follow current AAP recommendations and keep him rear-facing until he’s 2.

So this “convertible in 1 car and bucket seat in 1 car” system has been working out pretty well for the last few months. But in the last few weeks we reached the limits of our bucket seat straps. Owen + a winter coat = impossible to strap in to the tiny seat. I know, I know, most of you with kids Owen’s age are probably laughing at me for still using our bucket seat at all. But hey, I was trying to be economical! And we’ve been able to make it work… until now.

I have to face the facts. He’s a big kid now. And given that we are often in situations where one parent is dropping off at daycare, one parent is picking up, one parent didn’t know they were going to have to pick him up from daycare, one parent needs to run an errand and the other one is gone, etc. … we need another rear-facing carseat.

So we went back to Babies R Us and got this seat, an Evenflo Tribute DLX.

Even though OF COURSE price is nothing in comparison to safety, let’s review what we’ve spent so far –

Bucket seat: $189.99
Extra base: $79.99
Convertible #1: $229.99
Convertible #2:$59.99
______________________
$559.96

I know… our most recent one is dirt cheap compared to the other 2. First things first, it goes through the same safety tests as the others — price does NOT necessarily equal safety. The biggest difference is that it has a relatively low weight limit for forward facing (40 pounds, when most of the more expensive convertibles go to 100 pounds), so we will also have to get a booster seat someday. But cost of that seat PLUS a booster is still less expensive than one of the pricier convertible seats. And, seeing how Owen is an active little boy, I think he’ll prefer the more open design of a booster to being stuck in a padded convertible when he is 40+ pounds. Also, we’ve made some of these decisions with a 2nd baby in mind. Someday we will have two little munchkins in carseats and I think we’ve figured it out so that we won’t have to buy any more seats. This is all conjecture, though — I really have no idea what we’re doing!

But, OY! Carseats are expensive! I don’t know how people with twins do it.

Did you get multiple carseats if you had multiple cars? Did you do a bucket seat, then a convertible, then a booster?

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33 responses to “She Says… Bouncing Back and Carseat Conundrum

  1. We just have the one car seat. We don’t put the baby in my husband’s baby (i.e. his pick up truck). We’re rebels and have her forward facing and we also have a DVD player for her in the car now which makes life so much better. It’s literally one of the best things I have ever done for my sanity.

  2. @Kara, So did you not ever have a bucket seat? You went straight into a convertible? Certainly would have saved us money, but I wonder how I would have felt about not being able to take Owen out of the car in his seat when he was tiny.

  3. We have free car seat checks in our state (ME) and they say not to use jackets when a child is in a seat because you can’t get the buckles and straps tight enough. I would also just double check the height max on the bucket seat. We got the Chicco and loved it, but I found our son was getting close to the length max (which I didn’t even realize there was one until I went to the car seat check). Good luck! Car seats are expensive – and the rules seem to be ever changing too!

  4. Glad to hear your computer is back!
    Like you, we held onto the Chicco KeyFit 30 for as long as we possibly could as a second car’s car seat. Our daughter is really tall, so she was pretty uncomfortable in it before she even turned one. I think we held out until then and then bought our second car seat – the exact one you have: Evenflo Symphony 65 e3 All-In-One. (We had already received the Evenflo Triumph™ 65 DLX Convertible Car Seat at my baby shower.)
    I can’t even wrap my brain around booster seats yet. 🙂

  5. We had the same bucket seat (and travel stroller set that went with it), but Cameron grew out of that looooong ago. He was a chubby little dude. We moved onto an Eddie Bauer convertible which I would NEVER recommend to anyone because it takes Hercules to pull the straps tight and the steel buckle holding the straps behind the seat gets caught on a lip when you’re trying to pull it tight. When I went back to work, we bought a second convertible for our other vehicle (so either one of us could drive with him) and we put the annoying Eddie Bauer one in the truck that is the rarely used vehicle traveling with him and the new one in my car. I cannot remember which one I bought as I sit here, but it was that fit all the criteria we were looking for and as luck would have it, it was on SALE! Woot!

    Personally, I think if you are a family with multiple cars, it’s almost a necessity to have a car seat installed in them both. They are too much of a pain to move them around if need be. And if you’re both working parents, no one has the time to be fiddling around with them. The biggest bummer for me was that my Jetta was too small to keep the new seat rear facing because there was no room to tilt it and it was pressing so tightly against the back of the seat that it was actually causing the button to be pushed that loosens the straps! Umm NOT safe at all! I was not happy about that at all because I would have also kept him rear facing as long as possible.

  6. We did similar to what you did. The main car, mine, has her fancy convertible, and we got a cheap one for hubby’s/airplane travel. It’s working out so far and my daughter is almost 2.5.

    Kudos for you rear facing til 2 and beyond!

    2 more things- Watch out for bulky winter coats in carseats. It can cause the straps to not fit properly. And I’ve heard that height, rather than weight, makes most kids outgrow seats. So stuff to research and keep in mind.

  7. I was going to say the same thing that Chel said about the winter coat. It is super annoying, but you really don’t get them as tight as you do without. We usually wear a thin fleece coat in the car and bring the winter coat for after the ride (though I live much further south that MA and can see how that might be much more time consuming in a much colder place!)

    We have only ever used a convertible car seat, and I really didn’t find it to be a problem. I always liked to use my ergo or moby when we were out, and fortunately my son was a good sleeper, so if he was asleep, he stayed asleep even getting him out of the car.

    We too went through the Britax vs. something else, and ended up going with the Evenflo Triumph 65, which we love. We have one in each car. (I love the tightening mechanism on them as I am kind of anal about getting it tight enough (see my first paragraph)– it has a knob that you turn that tightens it instead of a strap to pull, don’t know if that’s all Evenflos or just this one. The car seats do get expensive though, huh?

  8. I know this isn’t an answer to your question but as an FYI there is a really great resource called SafeKids.org. They install/check car seats to ensure they are installed properly. The people at the Mattapan location are extremely helpful, thorough, and nice. Here is the link: http://www.safekids.org/in-your-area/find-a-inspection-station/?state=MA

  9. Echoing what everyone said about car seats and bulky winter coats. We have a nice thin fleece hoody for in the car and always bring along blankets! BUT, I live in KS, so I really can’t say what I would do if I lived in your climate! We had an infant carrier, then switched to the Evenflo Triumph and then switched to the Graco Nautilus when we got pregnant with number two and knew we would need the Evenflo sooner rather than later. We loved our Evenflo and LOVE LOVE LOVE out Nautilus… My kiddo is 5 and still able to be strapped in a 5 pt harness which is so much safer than the booster. Eventually the Nautilus will break down to just a high back booster with the belt and then again breakdown to just the booster seat. Basically it is the last chair we will have to buy for him and will last till he is 40;)

  10. This is so timely! We’re looking at going from our Chicco bucket to a convertible this weekend. I’m so bummed- I LOVE the ease of the bucket seat for transporting him! Do you have a good resource for car seat reccs?

  11. @Angie, I found Consumer Reports to be really helpful when venturing into the convertible carseat world for the first time: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/baby-toddler/convertible-car-seats/overview/convertible-car-seats-ov.htm

    Good luck!

  12. I have no idea but I was wondering what you do when you travel? Do you check the car seat or rent one at arrival or ???

  13. We have slowly accumulated a number of carseats. Originally, we had the pair of Graco SnugRides, which stayed in the van. We never even got extra bases for the other car, and it was fine. Especially since I was home full-time, anyways. When my big kids turned about 7-8 months, we switched to Britax Marathons. As they got older (couldn’t tell you exactly when, maybe 18 months or more?), and we started splitting them up for one-on-one time on the weekends, we got an extra carseat (another Marathon – we love them) for M’s car. Then last year, when Ellie was in the hospital, there was a day that we needed to drop the kids off in one car and pick them up in another with no chance to make an exchange, so we got a fourth Marathon. So now there are two forward-facing Marathons in each car, with Ellie still in her SnugRide in the van (we did get an extra base to swap in and out in M’s car, but have used it very infrequently).

    And we JUST picked up a couple of boosters for the big kids. I don’t love them, my kids are still kind of small and I much prefer the security of the carseats. But the boosters are much easier for travel.

    So, we have been through a grand total of nine carseats for three kids – three SnugRides (I sold the big kids’ seats before Ellie was a blip on our radar), four Marathons, and two Graco boosters. My older kids have been in those Marathons for nearly four full years now, and I think Ellie will switch into one soon. I can’t decide whether to keep my kids in the same seats they have now, or possibly switch to a Britax Frontier for each of them in the van. I imagine we’ll use one of the Marathons we already have for Ellie.

  14. We skipped the infant seat and went straight to a convertible with a high weight limit; the hope being that this one car seat will see her through the car seat days. We bought a recaro which we love. Pricey but we have scored two for about $540 and plan on using one of the two seats for baby no. 2. The no-infant car seat was occasionally tricky but we just didn’t spend that much time in the car seeing how it was about 110 degrees when she was born!

  15. We had the bucket seat for a while, but by the time she was 11 months old, she was really too tall to sit in there comfortably. Also, she’s over 30lbs now so even if she was short, I couldn’t use it anymore.

  16. We skipped the infant seat and put her in a convertible one that says it fits 5 – 40 pounds. We each have one in our car. It would be completely impossible to do it any other way. We are pregnant with the second and will get two more convertible ones … so yes, we will own 4 car seats for 2 kiddos. And when it’s all said and done the bill for the four will be about $800! YIKES.

  17. Yay for getting the computer back! We used the Chicco Cortina infant seat/travel system with an extra base in the second car. By the time he was about 7 months old, he was so heavy that I was having a hard time lugging him in the car seat up to the second floor (we lived in a condo then). And I had to take it up every night cuz Mike dropped off and I picked up. So we bit the bullet and bought two Britax Marathons, which goes up to 70 pounds. I think we found them on sale for about $200 each. Since we bought them so early, we figured they were worth the money since we would get so much use out of them. He’s 16 months now and we just turned him to forward-facing for a couple of different reasons. I hadn’t really thought about what we’ll do for a booster seat. But now Kara has me thinking that we need a DVD player for road trips…

  18. I was going to comment about the winter jackets and the carseat situation, but I see that a bunch of other people did already, so I’ll tell you about our carseat situation. I hated the snap and go carriers, I always felt like I was banging my legs and the baby around when I carried one, so when I got pregnant we decided to get a convertible. We went with the Britax because it was the lowest weight (can safely hold a 5lb. baby). He looked soooo teeny when he was a newborn, but fit just fine. We have the Marathon and it’s good up to 55lbs. I don’t regret it one bit, and when we have our second baby we’ll do the same. Not sure if we’ll ever buy one for the other car… the car with the carseat has become the baby’s car. Whoever has him, (mostly me) gets the car seat car 🙂

  19. We only have one car so we bought a convertible seat from the beginning….but now I’m pregnant and we’ll need another carseat for our second child. I love the idea of getting a clip on bucket seat for the new baby and once my older son moves to a booster the younger son can move to the convertible.

    I feel you on the cost….Buying a new seat ain’t cheap! We’re looking into our options now since I have four months of pregnancy left..

  20. we had a graco bucket for months 1-8 (with a base in each car – and sometimes someone taking off with the bucket like you said!), then switched her to a britax boulevard 70 rear-facing (one for each car). we just switched her to forward facing at 12 months (I know the new rec., but we were leaning against it anyway and then our pediatrician said she wouldn’t do it either. lol. GOOD FOR Y’ALL for toughing it out til 2!).

  21. We switched Eli to a convertible carseat when he was only 5 months old because 1) my back couldn’t handle the bucket seat and 2) Eli hated riding in the car. We figured we’d try a convertible seat because they sit a little more upright. He loved riding in the car after that. So we bought another for Hubby’s car, then one for Grandma’s car and one for Nana’s car (because they both drive him at least once every two weeks and switching carseats around is a PAIN). We knew we’d be keeping said convertible seats for a LONG time, so we didn’t feel too bad investing in them. That being said, I think we got a great deal… we paid $140 for each seat. We chose the Graco MyRide 65. I should also throw in that we were given our bucket seat by my brother along with 2 extra bases, so our initial carseat investment was only 1 extra base for Grandma 🙂

  22. We had a Graco infant seat that we used until my daughter was 9 months old, at which point she out grew the weight limit. We had THREE bases to go with that, one for my car, one for my husband’s and one for my mother in law who watched our daughter three days a week.

    We then switched her to a convertible car seat where we again had to buy three. Now she is nearly four and approaching the weight limit on that seat too so we’ll be looking to buy her a booster seat soon.

    Only bummer is we got rid of the infant seat (moved, less storage space, etc) and now we’re pregnant with number two so we need to buy two booster seats, a new infant car seat and two more bases (all in the next three months). I HATE to think of how much we will have spent on car seats in the end!

  23. We have 3 car seats – my 5-year-old started in a Graco Snugride then moved to a Marathon when he hit the weight limit. Then my younger son was in the Graco. When he was too big for that we moved him to the Marathon an moved the older one into a Frontier (he’s still using the 5-point harness but eventually it can be used as a high back booster. The baby is now in the Graco. All 3 are jammed into our Highlander, where they stay. If we have to take any kid somewhere, we take that car (which occasionally means we have to meet somewhere and switch cars). When we travel, we either bring the seats or borrow some there, but I don’t think we’ll get any more until the baby grows out of the Graco infant seat.

  24. We’ve had a similar journey to yours with our car seats. We used our Chicco with 2 bases until our daughter was 10 months. At that point, we had a situation where we were traveling but leaving from 2 different airports so we ended up purchasing our convertible seat (the Evenflo e3 like yours) to use since we knew at some point we would need it (we had to be able to leave a car seat with family when we left but still needed our seat when we got home). Since our daughter turned one, I’ve been using the convertible rear facing in my car while my husband uses the Chicco since she still fits. She’s getting close to needing a new seat for his car and I’ve been trying to figure out what road to take. He doesn’t like the Evenflo as much so after much analyzing, we’ve decided to wait until she’s for sure too big for her Chicco, then buy the Graco Argos 3 in 1. We’ll have to turn her around once we buy that seat (she’s already 16 months so not too bad) but we won’t need to buy any seats beyond that for either car. If there is a baby #2 in our future, we’ll be set with all the seats we’ll need. So, all in all, we’ll end up buying 3 seats total and spending approximately $300 (the Chicco was a gift and I used sales and discounts for the others).

  25. We just bought a second convertible for our 15 month old. We held out as long as we could and finally came to the realization that having one in each car would make life a lot easier. We have two Evenflo Triumphs and love them!

  26. We have 3 kids, and we have gone thru many, many carseats.

    Baby #1
    -Peg Perego Infant carSeat (he outgrew it)
    -Eddie Bauer Convertible carseat (we didn’t liked the straps so we gave it away)
    -Britax Marathon (my favorite)
    -Graco Turbobooster

    Baby #2
    -Britax Marathon (from day 1, he never used an infant seat)
    -Britax Frontier (we just ordered because he is about to outgrow his Marathon)

    Baby #3
    -Graco SnugRide
    -Britax Marathon (The one baby #1 used)

    Additional to that we have
    -Graco Booster (in husband car)
    -Graco Turbobooster (that goes in my mother in laws car when needed)

    In total we have owned 9 carseats.
    Britax are by far my favorite ones.

  27. Hey Kate,
    Been reading your blog for a while and just wanted to comment on this post. Not sure if you or others are aware but car seats have expiration dates. Here’s a link I found from google. I know by reading you’re planning for baby #2 someday down the line, and depending on when that is, these current car seats you have you may not be able to use if they are past the date? Thanks!! Keep up the blogging! Love it! 🙂

    http://safetysquad.typepad.com/safety_squad/2007/08/why-do-car-seat.html

  28. @Anonymous, Thank you for bringing that up. I am aware and with our current plan of how far apart our kids will be (fingers crossed!), our car seats will work for Baby #2. But it’s a great point for others who are carseat planning!

  29. You’re welcome, Thanks for replying!! Fingers and toes crossed for you guys!!! 🙂

  30. Maya still uses the Graco infant carrier that snaps into her stroller. At just barely 20 lbs (and being quite petite/short) she has another few minutes to go. We got her the Britax Marathon for the next stage for my car (a convertible that will hold her up to 70 lbs) and will get a cheaper model (not Britax) for my husband’s car, since we take trips in my car and he just does daycare dropoff — literally 4 miles from our house. I figure since this Marathon holds 5-70 lbs, we “could” use it with baby #2 from the start, but I love the infant carrier and how easy it is to transport her in it — ESP since she is a car sleeper. This morning, I literally ran to get coffee and she was sound asleep on the 10 min round-trip drive (and still snoozing now). I don’t want to spend a fortune on car carriers, so hopefully this one will work for a good long while 🙂

  31. We have three parents. We also tried to be economical, but everyone has to have access to a carseat even when they didn’t plan to. We did this:

    1. Bucket with two bases — one base installed in M-‘s car because the default plan is that she has post-work pick-up duty four of five weekdays and on weekends we usually take her car. The other base lived in the coat closet for A- or me to take if we knew we would need it and leave there the rest of the time for unplanned events.

    2. One expensive convertible and one cheaper convertible. Expensive convertible is installed in M-‘s car. A- and I are sharing the cheaper one.

    This works for us largely because “school” is pretty close to the house Unplanned pickups mean A- or I swinging by the house on the way, which is not much trouble. And I’m most responsible for morning routines and drop-off so I chose a gym near the house, too.

    I go to the gym after dropping Miss A off, then shower at the house (returning the carseat to the coat closet) except the morning when I have an early phone meeting which I take at the house.

  32. We are getting a travel system for our little man on the way. One of the things that I liked about the travel system we are getting is that teh carrier has a weight of 35 lbs.
    A guy I work with had 2 car seats that were rear and front facing. Both of his little ones are now in booster seats, so he gave both of them to us. He said that we can have one for each car.
    The only other thing I need to put on the registery for him at this point is an extra base. I look at it as we have been very fortunate to have the hand-me-down car seats.

  33. Price def. does not equal safety (says the person with a Britax, but whatever). If you look at the list of safest – best performing – seats, the Cosco Scenara seems to make the grade almost all the time, and that thing can be had for $39. We went for the Britax because we needed a seat that would be easy to use in European rental cars that might not have latch, and it worked a treat. But like you, we were still using the bucket at 18 months!

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