Friday, May 27, 2016

Why We're Skipping the Infant Car Seat

There are very few things I consider to be need, needs for a new baby.   Clothes, diapers, a few places to put the baby down (ie. swing, bouncy seat), baby slings and of course a car seat.

The infant car seat seems to be almost universal.  Every has them, everyone uses them. 

Except me that is. 

John is my only child that I really used an infant car seat for.  And it was a heavier one that went up to 35 pounds, so not all that easy to lug around.  

And he actually only slept in it outside of the car on rare occasions, and never past 3 months.  Mostly it just stayed in the car.

With the girls, we went straight to a convertible.  And it worked out fine.  Time goes by fast when you have a baby and the time that the infant seat is more convenient is really short-lived.  With the new baby, I also decided to skip the infant seat and just start with a convertible. 

Here are the reasons we decided to skip the infant seat.

COST:  This is of course the biggest factor. I just don't see the point in buying a seat that only lasts about a year (and the convenience of it is even shorter lived....more on that later) when I can buy a seat for the exact same price that lasts 4-6 years.   It just doesn't make sense.  And car seats are one of those things that you aren't *supposed* to buy used unless it is from someone you trust, because you never know if it has been in an accident or been altered in any way.   Elsa is still using the car seat we bought her when she was born, 3.5 years ago.  And she has about another year in it, although I ended up buying her a higher weight limit harnessed forward facing seat to booster seat and will use her current convertible seat for the new baby in our second car.

Generally with our kids, I rear-face until age 3, forward face/harness until age 6, high-back booster until age 9 and low-back booster until age 12.   The fewer seats we need to get us through that time, the better.   Ideally, I would just use 2.....a convertible seat until age 6 and a high-back booster that convrts into a low-back booster from age 6-12 or so.  Six years is about the life of a carseat anyway before it expires, so that can work out well.  This all depends on the child's size of cours, but that is about what has worked for us for our average sized children.  One child was not average sized and outgrew seats way faster, so she moved through the seats much quicker. 

I do think the infant car seat can be more cost-effective if you are planning on having multiple closely-spaced children and you can just pass the seat down from one baby to another.  But I never really had that situation.  My children are all spaced further apart, and we've moved frequently, so I've never wanted to actually save car seats that aren't in use. They expire after 6 or so years anyway, so for my sitatuation, I never considered it to be worth the price. 

CONVENIENCE OF THE INFANT SEAT IS VERY SHORT-LIVED: As far as I can tell, the MAIN advantage of the infant seat is that if a baby falls asleep in the car, you can carry them inside and they may stay asleep in the car seat.  Except it doesn't usually work that way once the baby is more than a few months old.   My only real experience using an regular, light-weight infant seat on a regular basis is when I was babysitting full-time last fall.  While the baby used to fall asleep in the car seat quite frequently, as soon I tried to move the car seat, she would wake up.  I'm sure there are some babies that will stay stay asleep in the car seat past the first 3 months or so, but I don't think mine will.   And while most babies will fit into the car seat for about a year, after a few months, they get too heavy to lug around.  Plus, once they learn to sit up and hold themselves up, they are much easier to carry around. I guess some people say it's easier to buckle up in the house, rather than outside in the car, but that seems like a pretty minor thing to me.  We have a big van, so I can actually climb inside it (out of the rain/cold) to do buckling anyway.  You are going to have to buckle them in the car eventually, so why not just start from birth?

Really, I don't care if my newborn or young baby wakes up when I take her out of the car. She'll just fall asleep again shortly.  It's bigger babies and toddlers that I want to stay asleep.  The ones that if they take a short car nap, it will mess up their nap schedule and they will be cranky and overtired and take a weird late nap and then be up late at night. Now if there was a way to carry a 1-year old or 2 year-old inside and have them stay asleep, I would be all over that.   But by the time I really care about naps, the baby is too old to fit into an infant car seat and too heavy to lug around in one, and will likely wake up anyway when I try to move the seat.

I've read people say that they like the infant car seat for eating in restaurants or shopping or being able to just snap the car seat into the stroller.  These are all things I do almost never.  I only use the stroller for actual walks or if we are going someplace (like a zoo) that requires a lot of walking. I have NEVER used it inside a building...ever.  Strollers for me are strictly an outdoor use item.  And it's really not a problem to take the baby out of the car seat and put them in a stroller if we are going on a walk or to the zoo or something. 

Generally, I find it so much easier to just carry baby in a sling for grocery shopping, or going to Mass or running errands or whatever. 

And by the time a baby is 5 or 6 months old, they can usually sit in a high chair at a restaurant or are happy to sit/lie on the floor, so really it's easy enough to just carry them and set them down on the floor while I do stuff. 

Babies Shouldn't Spend Too Much Time in Car seats Anyway.  That is what they say. And I do think infant car seats are a contributing factor to flat-head syndrome if they are overused. Not that everyone who uses them, overuses them, of course.  Many people use them just fine.  However, it does make sense.  If the baby isn't actually sleeping, I DO think it is better for the baby to be held and carried in a sling and able to be in a more upright position, rather than lying in a car seat.  Even if I were to actually have one of those super chill babies (doubtful) that was content to just lie around in a car seat while awake, it's probably not that good for them anyway.    Really, they are meant to be used when riding in the car and that's it.  So, that's pretty much what we use them for. 

Those are my reasons for bucking the trend and skipping the infant carseat.  Anyone else skip them and just go straight to a convertible?  And of course, if you love the infant car seat and use it, good for you.  I do think that for certain families it does make sense.  It just doesn't really make sense for mine.


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