One of the perils of being tall parents — I’m 5’9″ and Joe is 6’2″ — is that we have ourselves one very, very tall baby. When we got the exact measurement at her 6-month checkup, we were a little startled to realize that she was only half an inch away from outgrowing her infant car seat, which was rated for a maximum height of 30 inches. Not that we hadn’t noticed it was getting a little tight:
I think the above photo really illustrates how her legs were already overlapping the edge of it, and how her head was nearly reaching the top, but I guess it took the doctor’s measurement to really give us the wake-up call that it was time to upgrade.
So last weekend, we headed out to Babies R Us in search of a bigger car seat. We knew that the replacement wouldn’t be the carrying kind, which is just as well — at almost 20 pounds, using a car seat as a baby carrier was getting to be a little impractical anyway. But aside from that, we didn’t really have an exact idea which brand or model we were looking for.
I think I’ve written before about the multitude of baby products available and how overwhelming it can feel while trying to sift through them all, and car seats are certainly no exception. The Babies R Us location by our house has no less than three aisles of car seats, ranging from the small rear-facing kind for newborns all the way up to booster seats for older kids.
So our strategy was to stumble into the store on a Sunday afternoon, look at the various car seats in person, compare prices, and read online reviews of any we liked right there thanks to the magic of smartphones. Once in the store, we were drawn to the S1 by Safety 1st Alpha Elite 65 Convertible Car Seat, since it offered functionality as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, and a booster seat for kids up to 100 pounds. It wasn’t the cheapest car seat in the store, but it seemed like it would be nice to pick one that wouldn’t just have to be replaced again in another six months.
This particular model of car seat came in two colors: black and pink. I thought the black one had kind of a boyish look, while the flowery pink one was obviously designed for a baby girl:
I’ll admit it, I thought the pink one was really cute. And while the black one would be easier to re-use for any future child(ren) regardless of gender, I have my doubts about whether we can realistically expect any baby product to last that long. What with the recalls and the planned expiration, not to mention all the trials and tribulations a baby, toddler, or child will naturally put it through.
Anyway, we read the reviews in the store, and it had good ratings — the biggest customer complaint seemed to be that it was difficult to install — so we went ahead and got it. And… oh man, those reviewers weren’t kidding. The instructions were garbage, and we spent over two hours struggling to get this thing in the car, during which time Joe repeatedly suggested that we just return it and get a different one.
Most frustrating, the car seat is supposed to be reclined at a certain angle for smaller babies, except in some vehicles it can’t reach that angle unless you roll up some towels and cram them underneath. (It actually directs you to do this in the manual, so I guess it must be safe.) In our case it took four layers of towels, carefully rolled into a log, to do the trick. But the end result was every bit as solid and stable as you’d expect, and Lillian seems to approve of how it turned out:
The padding in the car seat is just the right size and shape for her to lean her head against, and she settled in and took a really long nap the first time we went out shopping. So, it seems like it should be good and comfy whenever it comes time to take our next road trip!