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Never knew buying a car seat would be such an adventure...there are so many kinds and so many styles. It is overwhelming! do you have to buy the infant car seat or can you just get the convertible one which is suppose to grow with your child? is one better than the other? which is a trusted brand? for how long does a child stay in a car seat... in California?
any other recommendations.would also be much appreciated.
I liked having the infant seat with DD. That way if she was sleeping in the car I could just move her in the car seat. So it was good for shopping etc so she had somewhere to sit. It also snapped into my stroller. I think she sized out of it around 10 months or so so we purchased a larger rear facing seat for her. I can't remember what age they must stay rear facing until but she wasn't old enough to turn forward facing. We left her rear facing quite a bit longer than was recommended at the time as I felt it was a safer position.
I buy the infant seats because I think it's more convenient. If you buy the travel system, it pops into the stroller easily for outings, and you can use the seat in the front of the grocery cart when you're out shopping. It also serves as a place for baby to rest or sit in if you're going somewhere and don't want to hold baby (bank, post office, friend's house etc) We use the seat for the first year, then switch to a convertible.
It's all personal preference. I couldn't imagine going convertible from day one though. It just seems a little inconvenient, and the babies look so small in them when they're newborn.
Brands I like: Britax, Graco, Chicco. Britax has AWESOME convertible seats. We have 3 convertible seats for DD and the Britax wins hands down.
I am with you, I have read everything I can get my hands on and I am clueless. There is also a carseat safety board and those women are super knowledgeable. Making it even harder is the fact it isn't something you want to cheap out on since it is the safety of your baby. BUT I can't tell that the super costly ones are that special other than price. Good luck!
I am going with an infant seat because it seems more convenient, I do not have travel system, I just bought a stroller and an accessory bar so my infant seat attaches to my stroller.
I like the infant seats when they're little, they stay warm and protected, they can fit in the shopping cart, and you can set them on the ground--I move them to convertibles at 22lbs once they get too heavy and can finally sit up decently
I'm a Graco lover for my infant seats, they don't cost an arm and a leg and its easy to find extra bases for them, and they fit in lots of stroller brands--this'll be my fourth Graco infant seat in five years--I try to pay less for my infant seats and more for my convertibles since they're in them so much longer
We got the convertable seats which the boxes say are good until around 50 pounds.
Since I know a little girl who died in a car seat, this was the one area where we were not going to skimp. Sorry don't know brands, but we went to a well regarded specialty store and got their best carseats.
I am also a big fan of the infant car seats. My experience is with the Graco SnugRide, although I am sure there are other good ones. I just like the Graco because it's reasonably priced and does fit most travel systems & strollers. Plus I could take the babies in and out of the car without disturbing them, which is golden when you're in need of peace & quiet LOL. I used them with the girls and will be using one with this baby until he grows out of it. So long as it's installed properly it will be just as safe as the convertible seat. If you're worried about proper installation you should be able to take your car up to the local fire station, police barrack, etc., and they'll have a certified officer do it for you. I know Maryland has the K.I.S.S. program (Kids in Safety Seats) - maybe your area has one, too?
We have an infant seat but we were throwing around the idea of not getting one since we plan to baby wear 99% of the time anyways. But got a discontinued print of a graco for a steal. Baby will be in a britax marathon after the infant seat and remain rear facing until at least 2.
Some people will tell you to go with the infant car seat and then use the convertible, but it's really all up to parent's choice. Most convertible car seats are safe for newbies from 5lbs to 40lbs. If I hadn't been given an infant seat (from a good friend), I would have totally gone straight to the convertible.
Here's a link that should be helpful for everyone. It lists each state's laws and minimum use requirements.