Friday, January 14, 2005

Carseats and Booster Seats

Even with a mini-van, having three children in some sort of child seat makes for a very full car. Since the law here requires kids to ride in some sort of seat through the age of eight, it will be a long, long time before we're done with carseats. So picking one seems like an important job.

When we first got an infant seat before The Boy was born, I picked one out that I thought was cute. I didn't do any research other than to know I wanted one with a five-point harness. Cute wasn't exactly the best criteria for a carseat. The straps could only be adjusted from behind and it was hard to carry and hard to buckle a baby into. When The Boy outgrew that carseat at 5 or 6 months, I asked a lot more questions of friends about carseats that they recommended.

The general consensus was that the Britax Roundabout was the way to go. That was back in the days when stores on the internet were doing everything they could to get your business. Although it still wasn't cheap, I found a wonderful bargain on the carseat, which was good since I wasn't working and Justin was in law school.

That carseat has been all over the country -- from Tennessee to Arizona, from Arizona to Alaska and back to Tennessee. It has also flown to Oregon and taken a few other jaunts. It is a great carseat.

It was so much better than our old cute infant carseat that when The Girl was born we stood the cute carseat for about a week before buying one with a better design. We knew what things mattered and the fabric print really wasn't one of them.

When The Boy started to outgrow the Roundabout and we needed to put The Girl in it, I started looking into booster seats. I was thinking we'd get something small, lightweight and easy to transfer from one car to another. Then I went to the store and tested The Boy in the few I'd narrowed it down to. He kept popping his head around the seatbelt and wiggling out. Clearly, he wasn't ready for a booster seat that only used the car's belts. There is only one seat that uses a five-point harness up to 80 pounds -- the Britax Husky. It isn't small or lightweight and is nearly impossible to transfer from one car to another, but The Boy finds it comfortable and I liked knowing he couldn't slip out of the harness at will.

Now he's bigger and older, knows how to buckle and unbuckle his seat and would do just fine with a plain old booster. Pretty soon our Roundabout will be getting it's third occupant. In fact, I just ordered a new set of straps and a new cover, because the old one is pretty worn and the orange highlighter The Girl dropped on it hasn't made it look any better. The Girl will be moving into the Husky and we have to get a new seat for The Boy.

Finally, now we can get that lightweight seat! Or maybe not. As I've looked around and read reviews, even of booster seats that sound wonderful, I can't quite see choosing the car's seatbelt system over a five-point harness. Sure a seat I can throw in any car would be nice, but it isn't like I actually need to do that very much.

After all my looking, I think we may just get a second Husky. Sure they are huge, not to mention expensive, but I like the seat and I like feeling like the kids are fastened in tightly.

Have I mentioned I'm a bit of a carseat nut?

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