Child Safety Car Seats and Travel Systems...ACK!

Okay, I’m officially going crazy with all this crap. My wife and I spent about three hundred hours in Babys R-in-control-of-Us yesterday looking at car seats and travel systems, folding them and unfolding them, poking and prodding them. The only thing we didn’t do was submit one for metallurgy testing.

The girl working the stroller section was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, but I still left feeling like my head was going to explode. Any of you parents out there care to give me some insight. We’re expecting our first youngun in November and I am so frazzled from household projects that I cannot make a decision for the life of me. Advice. Please. The fate of Europe hangs in the balance.

We received an Eddie Bauer travel system as a gift–made by Cosco–but the safety guy in a class we took tsk-tsked it. We’re considering one of a couple by Graco to take its place.

Help me…you’re my only hope.

“Careful. You’re washing a baby’s scalp, not scrubbing vomit out of a Christmas dress, you stupid holiday drunk.”



In our research, Britax came out on top for safety and kiddo comfort.

Get a good removable car seat for the first few months, while the baby is still small enough to carry in his/her seat.

Then, get a Britax Marathon. It’s a big seat that will handle the child all the way up to 65 pounds, saving you an interim “booster seat.”

We have a Marathon in one car, and the smaller Roundabout in our other car. We use the Roundabout for travel.

[size=2](Trivia: GRACO stands for God Rewards All Christian Organizations. But the company is now owned by Rubbermaid, I beleive, and apparently no longer discriminates against employees who don’t choose to take workship breaks. We have a Graco bouncer, but didn’t like the construction of their car seats.)[/size]

Thanks Denny. Good idea about starting with the removable, then moving to the Britax. Though I’ve heard plenty of good stuff about them, the price tag on the Britax carseats had me a little nervous, but the idea of moving up to one that will last for some time makes it a little easier to stomach.

By travel do you mean to carry it on to planes and such? Or just use it for long road trips?


Britax are my favorites and what we always used because they get the highest safety ratings. They cost an arm and a leg, though.

The thing about the removeable seats is that all of them get recalled eventually. They’ll put one out, it will sell for a few months, get recalled, and then there will be a pause until the next one comes out. I have a philosophical reason for hating them, too, as they are a major tool of the baby isolationists.

Get nice sling, too. The best of those is the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder, which you can find at a bunch of places.

Look at baby stuff as a consumable that serves a function. It will be worth nothing soon, mostly because it gets covered in vomit and feces on a regular basis, so it better do its job. Buy the one that best will keep the baby safe, since that’s its main purpose. This applies to your carpet, too.

Wow. I have two kids and thus far no vomit or feces on the carseats or carpets. No food on the walls either. The hand you’re dealt is truly random. We used Graco carseats and were happy with them overall Amanpour.

Let me offer a hearty congratulations man! This is great news, give me a hollar, I’m always ready to welcome a new GamerDad to the fold. ;-)

Okay. I’m gonna need a translation on this, Supertanker.

Somebody gave us a Baby Bjorn thingy at one of the showers. I asked if it converted to a sling type thingy and was given a blank stare. I’ll look for the Over the Shoulder Boulder Holder, though. Thanks for the heads up.


I’m not a fan of the slings or Baby Bjorn thingies - well, I just never used mine much. Basically my right arm is now 5x stronger than my left from hauling both kids (at different times) in one arm. You haven’t really learned about strength tolerance until you’re helping a 3 year old remove a heavy coat, in a crowd of people, with one hand, while the other arm is clutching 28 lbs of 1 year-old dead-weight because you know if he gets free - something on the floor is going into his mouth.


Thanks for the congrats, Bub. And for the product advice. I appreciate any and all insights more than–well, I’m sure you can guess how much.

You said you went with Graco for car seats. Did you use a whole “system”–car seat that matches and fits into a stroller, then turns into a seagoing car, etc? Or just a car seat separate from a stroller mechanism? The problem here is we registered for some stuff based on “how cute it was” and as we assemble and experiment with the stuff it becomes clear that “looks aren’t everything” is a truism for a reason.

Anyway, thanks again. I’m excited and, well, scared to death.


Don’t be scared. Instinct will take over and you’ll suddenly find a whole new world of meaning in your life. Okay, here’s some advice that will probably scare you. If you can, catch your baby. Yes I mean that the way it sounds (most OBGYNs will allow it and “back you up” on it so a “miss” won’t be as bad as you think). I did that for #2 and it’s one of my most cherished memories by far. I caught my son, I brought him here, what else can I do that in any way rivals what my wife did on that day?

Anyway, no. Nothing that fancy. We got car seats and strollers seperately. I tend to avoid “all-in-one” products as a rule though. Make sure your stroller is comfortable for you to push. We had one (borrowed) that hurt my back bigtime!

Don’t think the “catch your baby” advice is gonna work, really, although I appreciate the sentiment. Being that this is our first, my wife is firmly ensconced in the “you’re staying up near my head and that’s that” camp. She’s terrified I’ll lose interest in her if I see…um…too much.

No amount of reassurance seems to alleviate this, though I doubt in the heat of the moment if she’ll care. And who knows what legs, wings, thighs, etc. I’ll be required to prop up/hold at that time.

Anyway, given some of the videos we’ve had to watch in these classes, it looks like the “catching” is a lot more than just catching. I see these OBs and midwives tugging and twisting and doing all kinds of gymnastics down there. How did you get away with that?

“I have my temporary driver’s license…and my astronaut application form. I didn’t pass that though. I failed everything but the date of birth.”


Your best bet is to check out consumer reports. They regularly have updates on this stuff. Britax does always rank near the top, but they’re expensive; I think the Graco ones are pretty good, and so are the Eddie Bauers, but these things change regulary.

I wouldn’t go for an all-in-one–they’re so damn bulky. We got a stroller that folds up into almost nothing–easy to schlep just about anywhere.


Congrats, XtienMurawski! I just had my first last January and it’s a blast.

I have this travel system from Graco and it’s served us pretty well. I’m a big fan of the travel systems because you can easily transport the kid from the car to the stroller or to the house. This is very handy if they’re asleep or you just don’t want to mess with ulfastening them. It’s also nice if you’re going somewhere where you just want the kid to sit (and possibly sleep) for a while, like church or a restaurant or a friend’s place.

When the kid starts to sit up, he may not want to sit in the carseat while you go about in the stroller (my daughter certainly didn’t). So the nice thing is that the travel system has a stroller, too. Nothing new to buy.

Well, not really. The only drawback to systems like these is that they’re HUGE. They fold up, but they still take up most of a good-sized trunk and they’re relatively heavy. We’re going to invest in a nice lightweight, much more compact stroller for short jaunts.

Also, I HIGHLY recommend the Miracle Blanket to all new parents:

I can’t overstate how awesome this thing is. It’s a swaddling blanket with a clever design that uses these little flaps and baby’s own weight to pin his arms to his sides and wrap him up tightly. It helped my daughter sleep through the night (as in 8+ hours) by the time she was six weeks old. Babies friggin’ love these things.

Regarding “catching” your kid, I have to also admit that my place was by my wife’s head. I had actually hoped to not see the bloody parts, but as it turns out that’s all but impossible unless they put a curtain up. My wife pushed for SIX hours straight, during which time it was my job to hold her left knee up next to her head and help her count through the contractions/pushing. Good times.

Okay yeah, no argument here, by her head is where you belong the first time. The 2nd time I decided to “go south” and didn’t regret it because, basically, I learned that my wife was the type that didn’t need my help. It wasn’t a pretty site at all but I have to say “pish-tosh” snootily to your wife’s absurd idea that you could lose interest in that area!

Here’s another bit of advice then Amanpour, if you can’t do the catching, try this: Do you know the baby’s gender? If not, then tell the nurses and OBGYN/Midwife/Voodoo WitchDocter, not to announce the sex when the baby is born. Have them hold the baby up and show you so that you can tell your wife. You get to make the announcement. Every birthday Maggie has, my wife gives me a little note with my quote on it:
“It’s a girl! Linda, we have a daughter!”

Here’s the NHTSA’s official list of child seat recalls. Check your shopping list against that, even Britax has a few on there. There are lots of the all-in-one seats on there. I think those are just a flawed idea, there are too many parts to get dirty and start to slip or not fit correctly. Put a crash load on them like that and they fail.

“Baby isolationists” is one of the phrases my wife and I use for the people that never seem to touch their baby. The child goes from crib to playpen to seat, then gets hauled around in that all day. We always thought that was weird, since you only get a few years to hold them, and a world of knees and shins isn’t very stimulating. I preferred slings myself because the baby’s right there to interact with while having that snuggled feel similar to the Miracle Blanket. My kids still are the worst sleepers in the world, but they would be right back snoozing again after moving from seat to sling.

Being north or south depends on your personal feelings about bodily fluids and internal workings. Our first was a vaginal birth, and I intended to stay north. It was seven days of prodromal labor, 23 hours of induction, and three hours of pushing, so I ended up moving around a lot. The next two were c-sections, so I did get to see a real uterus (hence leading to my assertion that Kirby is a uterus), but they were fairly spashy events that kept me back a lot. I did get to cut the cords on all three girls, though. That took much more effort than I expected, it was like sawing through a big tendon.

Gav’s right about trying to minimize the bulk. When you start out, you’ll look like the 4th Armored getting ready to cross the Rhine. As you learn what can be left in the car, you’ll want smaller versions of the stuff you need. We eventually settled on a stroller that was much smaller than our original - though we did have the dreaded side-by-side double for a while.

Bub, you are amazingly fortunate if you’ve not had diaper blowouts require removal and washing of sofa cushions or some nice projectile vomiting. Buy some lottery tickets, quick! Amanpour, buy a poncho!