Convertible Car Seat: What saved our car trips

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in BABY, Best for Baby, New Mom Experience, PRODUCTS

I honestly don’t know where to start this post. There is so much I need to say and explain. The biggest reason why I am writing it is to help other parents not go through the hell we had to go through with our infant carseat. {If you don’t want to read our story and skip to the review of the carseat, click here}

See, when I was still pregnant and on the hunt for the perfect car seat, I was reading all kinds of guides that say something along these lines:

“You can buy a rear facing infant car seat  that is safer because it fits small babies better and then a bigger car seat once they reach 22-35 pounds depending on the seat OR you can purchase a convertible car seat that can have your infant in and then by removing a special infant pad when your baby is older, you use it as a normal car seat and then eventually you can flip it to face forward. With an infant carseat you can carry it in and out of the car without waking the baby up or attach it to a stroller frame.”

The idea being that it is safer and more convenient to have an infant car seat rather than one that is convertible. Well little ol’ me was all “We have to have an infant car seat and then we’ll buy a bigger one when she outgrows it. ” It didn’t matter that it would mean that we’d have to buy two seats. I wanted what was best for my baby. In addition to that, WHO isn’t completely used to the sight of a new mom toting a car seat with the baby in it around town?

That, in my opinion, the problem with going for what’s common/popular/traditional rather than trying to figure out what works for you – it’s not always what’s best, and most likely it’s not what’s best for YOU.

What noone else seems to tell you is that most likely ( though not in all cases) if your baby is exclusively breastfed (and sometime not), she will outgrow the infant car seat by weight in…umm well… point two seconds.
And you know what else? It’s likely that BEFORE she outgrows the car seat by weight, she will be big enough sizewise to be SO uncomfortable in it that you will want to throw it out of the window.
And finally? If you’ve got an active/difficult/high needs or, in general, curious baby, he will want NOTHING to do with anything that requires him to be reclined and squished like that. You might also have a baby that screams and screams in the car seat, so the whole “put it in the stroller frame” or “carry in and out of the car” advice becomes kind of useless. And what’s wrong with babywearing instead lugging a 20 pound container?

Ok, so maybe this won’t/didn’t happen to you and your baby, but those were exactly the issues we were having PLUS some more.

My dad bought us a wonderful expensive infant car seat by Peg Perego. It’s rated well and all. I have nothing bad to say about the brand, it’s a good company, but after the initial few weeks of being totally OK in the car seat, Alexis ALL OF A SUDDEN HATED it! With a passion! She’d scream and cry in it the second I put her there (or 5 minutes later if she was in a good mood). She was so uncomfortable, she’d get hot in an instant in that polyester covered seat and it was just NOT a good situation.  Once she got a bit bigger ( 2-3 months) it got even worse. She was cramped in it, she didn’t like being reclined like that, she couldn’t see anything. Forget using the car seat in a  stroller! Ha! What a joke! She’d sit in a normal stroller as long as it was upright and let her look around. Oh and toting the car seat around? It’s so heavy that it wasn’t even a question.

So we spent the first 3 months thinking that she just doesn’t like BEING in a car seat. She’d never fall asleep in it calmly. NEVER. She’d be sooo tired, but she’d just cry and cry until we either pull over, or I somehow get her to close her eyes for a second and shush her to sleep (or more likely she’d get too tired from crying). I never thought the blame was to be put on her carseat. I just figured some babies didn’t tolerate being in the car or whatever. I know plenty of people using this particular car seat with their kids with no problems. So one day, I googled and bumped into a thread about babies who hate being in a car seat. And a few people suggested getting a convertible car seat saying it helped their baby.

I wasn’t sure it would help, but it definitely beat staying home most of the time because your baby won’t fall asleep or stay calm in a car seat.

So I started researching. I had another concern. Besides her being cramped into the infant car seat, I felt her crying was partially stemming from the fact that she was hot. Whenever we’d get her out, her back would be soaking wet and no amount of air conditioning or fan blowing would help. So besides finding a good convertible car seat, I needed to find one that hopefully wouldn’t get as hot.

And then there was another issue. Fire retardants. UGH! MOST car seats are sprayed with BFRs (brominated fire retardants). It is one of the reasons I will NOT buy Britax until they phase out BFRs. It’s hard to get away from them, but one CAN use this resource to check whether the car seat they are planning on buying contains too much of these highly toxic chemicals. {here’s a list of best and worst car seats from the toxic chemicals standpoint. Also pay attention to where the toxins were detected. If there’s lead in the base, I’m not concerned, since the baby doesn’t come in contact with that part, just wash your hands after installing or touching it. But if there’s some in the clip, watch out – what baby doesn’t like to chew on their car seat clip?}

So after days of looking around, comparing car seats, reading reviews, checking out HealthyStuff.org, I finally decided on 2 car seats: Sunshine Kids convertible car seat and Maxi Cosi Pria 70.

The biggest reason for SunshineKids was lack of aforementioned fire retardants (and they do rate well on the safety).

Maxi Cosi’s comparable seat (they didn’t have Pria in  their healthystuff.org database) had very little fire retardants in the seat and was only rated medium due to lead in the base (which as I said earlier was not my concern). But the biggest reason why I ended up going with Pria 70 was how big and comfortable the seat looked AND after reading a ton of Amazon reviews, I discovered that the fabric Maxi Cosi used for this seat was a different type of fabric that feels and stays cool to skin. Bingo! That was EXACTLY what I wanted!

Once it was shipped, the seat seriously couldn’t come fast enough. Every car trip was torture and I put ALL my hopes in this new magical seat. When it came in, we quickly put Lexi into it just to see her reaction. She usually starts fussing right away when she is put into our  infant car seat. So here was her reaction:

Cute, but not necessarily what she’s going to think of it after she’s been in it for 20 minutes. So the next test would be taking her out in it.

Then I removed all the fabric and washed it immediately (or maybe I wiped it down, I don’t remember now whether it comes off or not. I’m pretty sure it does).

As soon as it was ready to be installed, I had Andrew go install it, which he said was as easy as any other seat. And then we took our first car trip. We went for a little outing into a neighboring town. Alexis was just fine in the seat getting there and I could see how wide and spacious and comfortable it was for her. We spent a few hours walking around the center of town, grabbing a sandwich, taking pictures. Then it was time to go home. It had been 4 hours since Lexi last slept at that point ( the normal is 1.5-2hrs), so I was dreading the car ride but hoping she’d do better in the new car seat. Usually the worst of her crying in the car is when she is too tired, but can’t fall asleep in it.

To make a long story short, a few minutes into our ride, I noticed her slowly closing her eyes. KLOP! KLOP! KLOP! She was blinking fast trying to stay awake while staring at the window. The smaller her eyes were getting, the bigger mine were becoming. I was in shock that she wasn’t crying- she was clearly very sleepy. And then within a minute or two, BAM! She was asleep!

To explain to you the shock, relief, joy that went through our heads at that moment – I don’t think you can understand it unless you’ve dealt with a baby that hates their carseat and won’t fall asleep in it.

From that moment on, we were SOLD and we were so grateful to Maxi Cosi for having made a comfy car seat and at the same time SO MAD that we had waited so long to realize that our old car seat what was causing all the trouble. I am still mifted at myself for not doing it sooner and at Peg Perego for being hot and uncomfortable (lol).

As far as fabric goes, the reviews I read were spot on. It’s this smooth, breathable cover that JUST DOES NOT GET HOT. Seriously, we would drive for 3 hours non-stop and I pull Lexi out and her back would be her body temperature and the seat would be cool to touch. It’s an ABSOLUTE MUST for hot climates but I am sure even northerners could use a seat that doesn’t make their baby sweat.

So from that point on, I can count on 1 hand the number of times when Alexis had a breakdown in the car. However, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times she’s fallen asleep in it, with either minor fussing and help from me or completely on her own. A complete 180 on our situation prior to getting the new car seat. We’ve been able to go places, take trips, drive for 3-4 hours to Disney with relative ease. She still gets sick of sitting in one place like any normal baby would, but it’s manageable.

I think this huge of an improvement is due to a lot of things: the spaciousness of the seat, how comfortable it is, how well padded it is, how cool and pleasant to touch the fabric is, the perfect recline of the seat and some of it, at this point, I am sure, is due to Alexis growing up and not needing as much help falling asleep. Those, who follow me on Instagram, know how many times since getting this car seat, I’ve posted a photo of Lexi sleeping in it with the words: “I can’t believe this is happening!”

 

So a few more things about the seat that is worth mentioning. It features a TINY FIT system, designed to fit the smallest babies ( 4lb +). When your baby grows out of it, you simply remove the insert. The car seat works in both rear facing and forward facing positions, fits babies up to 70 lbs in forward facing ( up to 40 lbs in rear facing). It has a FlexTech™ system for multi-directional energy management , as well as Air Protect advanced side impact protection.

It takes up little space in our car, but we do own a large SUV, however according to reviews, it has a pretty nice fit even in smaller cars.

In all the reviews I have done,  I have never really felt like something was such a MUST that no other product existed. This is a first one. As far as car seats are concerned, I am a Maxi Cosi customer for life.

For a cheaper alternative, check out the Safety 1st  Complete Air seat, it’s made out of the same breathable fabric, rated well, and is about $100 cheaper. The shape of the seat is a bit different, it looks like it’s not as wide, but without having tried it, I can’t really tell.

If you are still feeling strong about buying an infant car seat first, I’d suggest you take a look at their new Prezi infant carseat that looks stinking cool, comes in awesome colors, looks comfy and has the same type of fabric that doesn’t make your baby hot. Looking at it, I SOOOOO wish I had known about it when we were first buying a car seat. Though even then I’d probably get the convertible one from the get go, knowing what I know now.

In the near future I will be doing a 2 week trial of Clek’s brand new Foonf car seat (for 6+ months), which promises to be fabulous.  However, it would need to be mind blowing to outdo Pria 70.


Pria70 Convertible Car Seat Giveaway from Maxi Cosi

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There are  3 mandatory entries , after which you will have additional entries available.
This giveaway is open to US  residents only.
The winning entry will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Each giveaway has specific rules, so read them on the widget (including which countries are eligible)See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.

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I was not compensated for this post. Maxi Cosi  provided me with a seat sample to review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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