Car Seats and Newborn Babies
I remember very clearly the first day we brought our oldest daughter home from the hospital. Lucky for me my husband is a car seat technician, so I had no worries that we had installed our Graco infant carrier correctly. Interestingly, my husband procrastinated installing the seat until the day I was scheduled to go in for my induction (my baby was a week overdue).
I think until that point the idea of having a baby wasn't real. Reality sure struck like a hammer however a few days later, when we packed our bags up and prepared to bring our bundle of joy home. The nurse in the maternity ward was insistent about checking to make sure our baby was nestled safely into her carseat. She took great care to coach me about how to put the baby in the carseat and support her head. She also told me of the steps I should take to make sure the straps weren't too tight and adjusted properly. Of course, she knew of my husbands experience but still walked down to make sure we had installed the car seat properly. She wanted to make sure the seat was in the middle of the backseat.
My husband and I smiled at each other. Once we got in the car however we realized how terrified we were. That was the first time I have ever seen my husband drive 20 miles an hour down the highway back home. Normally the drive was about 25 minutes to the hospital. It probably took us close to an hour to get home that day. Looking back, we are lucky we didn't get into an accident for driving too slow!
Selecting The Perfect Carseat Of course, that was the fun part of the story. Actually finding a car seat was a mindboggling task. As first time parents, everyone and their mother had an opinion about the best type of car seat for us to use. There were loads of fans of the Graco brand (which we finally settled on). I had one friend drag me to Babies R Us and insist I try out an Eddie Bauer model. Still others looked at me and laughed when I told them I wasn't going to buy a travel system that came with a car seat and stroller. Others suggested starting right off the bat with a convertible car seat. And everyone, I mean EVERYONE was positive their opinion was the best.
Eventually we decided to stick with the Graco infant carrier because it was convenient. Of course, we had a porky 8 pound baby that outgrew her seat within 8 months. Actually, technically she probably outgrew it closer to seven. After that we decided to go with a convertible car seat. While many parents suggested starting out with the convertible seat, I am actually glad we did have the infant carrier to start with. For a few months anyway, I started developing enviable biceps from carrying around my large, bouncing baby girl. I sort of missed that once we changed to the convertible.
There are many things to look for when deciding the right carseat. Here is what I learned from my car seat shopping adventures:
- You may change your mind midway through. We thought the infant carrier would last us at least a year. As it turns out, we had to shop for another carseat much sooner than expected. If you think you will have a large baby (hint, your size or your partners, or even your mothers history might clue you in) shop for an infant carrier with a higher weight range. Some only carry a baby to 20 pounds, while others go to 22 (and two pounds is a world of difference for a baby).
- Keep in mind the advice of others, but remember you know best when it comes to your lifestyle and preferences. You should select the carseat you are most comfortable with, not the one someone insists you buy because they like it.
- Consider a convertible seat. They'll last you a lifetime.
- Remember your child will continue to need a carseat until they are about 80 pounds. Keep this in mind when investing in a carseat.
- Look for a seat with washable and removable fabric. Trust me, your child will dirty the seat before you know it!
Last but not least, try not to get overwhelmed by the many accessories and extra features available. All you really need is a safe seat with a latching belt. Cup holders, toy attachments and other things are secondary to this.