Friday, September 27, 2013

Favorite Car Seat Brand

While cleaning out the basement this week in preparation for our new washer and dryer (love them! In case anyone was wondering), I thought it was about time to check the expiration dates on our spare car seats. Actually it was a bit more involved than that because I couldn't find the seats at first and couldn't remember what I did with them. Turns out I loaned them out and completely forgot. I blame the three minis for my lack of brain cells, I swear it has nothing to do with turning thirty soon. When the seats were returned today, I immediately checked expiration dates and I'm glad I did: one had expired two weeks ago and the other is about to expire (the third one is good for 8 more months). We only have one car so it's not like we have to have extra seats on hand, but they're nice to have in emergencies (and there have been a few the past 6 years) so we will be replacing these.

So, why am I making such a big deal about expired car seats? Because you're breaking the law by using one. Something that not everyone knows about using expired seats, knowledge I acquired by working in medical insurance: if you get into an accident using an expired car seat and there's injuries insurance doesn't have to cover the expenses. Not a chance a parent should be willing to take with their little ones and not one most people can afford either.

Here's is one of my favorite list complied by Parenting.com for the 10 best car seats of 2013:

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/10-best-car-seats

After trying several brands of car seats with our kids, sifting through safety reviews, and heading to Buy Buy Baby to test them in our minivan, my personal favorite are Graco car seats. We had Graco SnugRides for each of the kids as infants. That sucker got heavier to carry as they got older, but it was extremely easy to install and easy for everyday use. The big bonus in buying Graco SnugRide infant seats are the stroller/seat combos you can get for a decent price.

 All Graco car seats (with the exception of the infant carriers) have built-in cup holders, which is a big deal to me and my kids because no one likes to deal with a fallen sippy cup or bottle of water. With many of the other brands, you have to buy the cup holders separately and/or they're a cheap attachment to the car seats. Not a fan. My absolute favorite car seat is the Graco Nautilus. The one downside to this car seat is it's a forward facing only, so a child can't go for the infant seat right into the Nautilus. My kids had convertible car seats for that in-between time, but I was not overly impressed with any of them. The best thing about the Nautilus is that it will be the last car seat you buy your child: it's a forward facing seat, high back booster, and small booster seat all in one. It comes apart easily, easy to wash, and is padded just the right amount. It's sister seat, the Graco Argos, has more padding and EPS foam and has easier adjustments. However, in all of the lists I've looked at, it was not rated as high as the Nautilus or not at all on some lists.

Obviously before you purchase a car seat for your child(ren), you want to test it in your vehicle. All car seats fit differently and may affect the way you have to adjust your front seats. I highly suggest going to Buy Buy Baby (here in Des Moines, it's in WDM on University). The sales people there are actually knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. They'll let you pull your vehicle up and they'll help you fit car seats in to give you can idea of how it fits and installation. The sales associates at Buy Buy Baby were extremely helpful in our last car seat purchase for Miss Elizabeth.

Please do research on your car seats before you buy. A car seat will be the biggest safety purchase a parent makes. Also, be sure to look up your state laws regarding car seats and read the manufacturers instructions on using car seats properly. All car seats seem to have different height and weight requirements before and/or during use. Once again, happy to share my "mom opinion" on an important topic and not the "expert opinions" that are constantly shoved down our throats as parents.

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