Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Great Car Seat Hunt

There's something you should know about me.  I am an obsessive researcher.  I like to think it's because I like to learn, but when I want to know more about something or need help making a choice in something that I am interested in, I dive in.  WAY in.

Which means that I have spent literally months researching which convertible car seat to get for Ruby.

And finally (finally!) it is here!!!  (p.s. sorry for the crappy iPhone pics... and for Ruby's grump-face, poor kid was in teething hell that day)

Pale-baby says, "Open that box, Mama!"

We ended up choosing the Clek Foonf for her, and I am pretty much in love with it.  I'm pretty sure Ruby is too!

But why did it take me months to make a choice?

Well, for one thing, I am really indecisive.  Especially when it comes to the safety of my girl!  And for another, well, there's no one "best" car seat out there, and on the contrary, there are actually a lot of great seats.  Which means, even though I love the Foonf, that doesn't mean it's the best seat for anyone else necessarily.

So, how did we end up deciding to drop a boatload of cash on this pretty little seat?  I started with my list of criteria:

1.) Will allow Ruby to rear-face for a long, long time.
2.) Will fit Ruby well and install nicely in my car.
3.) User friendly for Mr. G.

"Grandma, I want to get IN this thing!!!"

It was a short list!  At first.  Number two on that list was a given.  The "best" car seat is one that fits your child/car, and that you can use correctly every time you drive.  Which kind of leads to #3.  Mr. G is not great at using car seats.  I pretty much check his harnessing job every time I can, and often have to correct it.  And that's in our Chicco Keyfit, which is one of the most user-friendly seats out there!  So I knew I needed a seat that I could feel comfortable with his ability to use.  Because (and this is such a scary statistic) 80% of car seats are used incorrectly.

That means that if you are reading this, chances are great that your car seat is being used incorrectly, whether it's the install, how your child is harnessed, expired/outgrown, or aftermarket products being used in your car/with your seat that have not been crash tested.

This is the part where I BEG you, I IMPLORE you to please please please please please make an appointment to have your seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician.  And do so every time you get a new seat or car.  I had Ruby's infant seat checked, and have an appointment to get her Foonf checked this weekend, too.  Every mama & daddy out there wants their child to be safe.  Unfortunately, we don't know what we don't know.  And the only way we can find out, is to seek out the experts who do know.  If you're not sure where to get a seat check, click here to find a tech near you.  Our hospital puts on free car seat clinics, so that may be an option for you.

Also of note:  Many people have heard to go to your local fire or police station for a check.  This is only ok if they have a tech, and the tech is the person who checks!  Often they will want to help you (since they're so used to helping people in general), but have no idea what they're doing really.  I know this firsthand because Mr. G was a firefighter for a long time, and as I mentioned above, he really has no clue about car seats!

"Whoa, check out the view up here!"

Finally, I need to mention #1 on my list of criteria.  You will notice that even though Ruby is over one year (and likely now over 20lbs.), she is still rear-facing in her seat.  And actually, my goal is to have her facing that way until four years of age.  Not mainstream, I know.  But 500% safer than facing forward.  I for sure want my baby girl 500% safer!  I could go on and on about extended rear facing (ERF), but instead, I'm going to let this video speak for me.  Please watch it.  It could save your child's life.

Isn't the difference in the crash tests incredible???

I had a mama friend ask me about ERF, so I showed her the video.  Just like with me, that really stuck with her.  Her son will now be rear-facing for a long time. =)

Now, lucky for me, there are a lot of seats that met my initial list of criteria.  But, of course, as I delved deeper into the world of car seat safety (I now have the app, and am totally addicted), I discovered I wanted/needed to add to my list.

This here's my other baby:

Full of Swedish goodness and safety, but it turns out, can sometimes not play nice with car seats!  Because of advanced air bags, and a whiplash protection system, I cannot have a child restraint (or anything actually) touching the front seats.  Which meant that I needed to find a seat that would rear-face with enough room to not touch the seats in front.

I also discovered that I really wanted some sort of rebound control in my seat.  Rebound control increases the "ride down" time in a crash, which basically means less of the crash forces are going to be absorbed by her little body.  Good.

Except, usually this means the seats use a rear tether for rebound control.  Which is great, unless you have my car!  Apparently, Volvo does not even want a tether touching the front seats (which is usually where you anchor one).  Which meant that I needed a seat that had either an anti-rebound bar, bolsters, or shape.  Which led me to either the Clek Foonf, Chicco Nextfit, Graco Myride, The First Years True Fit Premier or the Peg Perego convertible.

All great seats.  What tipped me in favor of the Foonf was it's ability to meet ALL of my criteria, plus extras like the "green" factor (Greenguard certified fabrics, and total recyclability), it's narrowness for if/when we have another child(ren), it's awesome technology as a forward facing seat when that time comes (it has crumple zones much like a car), made in North America, Clek's good reputation, and most minorly, aesthetics.  Because once all the safety stuff is covered, who doesn't like a good looking seat? ;)  You can read more about it on Clek's website here (and Clek didn't pay me for a review or anything, I just like the seat).  It is sadly a very expensive seat, but thanks to a well-timed bonus for Mr. G, we were able to afford it, and I feel really good about Ruby's new ride!

Phew.  You'd think I'd be exhausted after all that research, right?  

I'm not though.  In fact, I'm kind of dreaming up ways to convince Mr. G we need a different seat for his car, too.  I think I might be car seat obsessed.  Hey, I told you I dive WAY in, right? ;)  Maybe I should become a tech...

Anyway, we've had several drives in the seat now, and I love it just as much (or more) than I thought I would.  It sits up high on a base for rear facing, which means Ruby can see out the windows now!  She loves that!  It is SUPER easy to use, was a piece of cake to install with the seat belt in the center of my car (no LATCH there), she doesn't get all sweaty in it like she did in her Chicco, and the best part?  Ruby doesn't cry in the car anymore.  Ok, so I'm sure she will again at some point, but she's gone from a baby who always cries in her car seat, to a contented girl.  Which makes a contented mama.  

Kinda kicking myself for not getting it sooner!  Oh, well!


  1. OMG, you sound EXACTLY like me! I WAY over research everything, especially products for my daughter! I'm so glad there is someone else out there that does the same thing! And just like you, we also went with the Foonf...the same pink one. I've had it for over 6 months and I still LOVE it!! And guess daughter Ellie is 3.5 and is STILL rear facing! I'm with you on this one to momma! So much safer, and honestly, she seems so much more comfortable without her feet dangling down. She loves propping up her feet and chilling! I plan on keeping her that way till at least 4, but if she likes it that way, and can still fit (she's pretty petite), we'll go longer! I get some much flack from my other parent friends about it, but ya know what, I don't care! It's the safest way for her to ride!

    So glad I found your blog!
    ♥ Kyna

  2. Thank jenny ,

    "80% of car seats are used incorrectly." omg ......
    Its can be vry dangerous for a baby so be carefully.
    Also very important to choose exact baby car seat for you baby.So we should be careful about this.

  3. I'm curious where you found the information about the car seat not being able to touch your seats due to the airbag. I have a 2006 Volvo xc70 wagon and am researching a convertible seat right now. Was the Chicco NextFit out when you were looking?

  4. Is the last picture you posted of the seat installed in your Volvo? I ended up buying the Nextfit & I have a 2006 xc70 but cannot get it installed tight enough. Also, you say the base is high, how difficult is it to get her in & out of the seat?

    Thanks for this post though! It is SO difficult to make a good decision with all this information out there.