Among the things on my list to prepare for my return to work is get a second car seat. We've always just had one, but DeuceDad and I are going to stagger our schedules so Deuce's day at daycare is shorter than a full work day, so that means two seats.
I did a lot of research when buying Deuce's infant seat, and settled on a Graco Snugride, even after reading the flawed side-impact crash testing results. His model isn't produced anymore, and we don't have his anymore because it was in an car accident.
As an aside, it is very important to destroy an car seat after a "moderate or severe crash", because its strength may have been compromised. The seat should be destroyed by cutting all the straps, making it unusable. In our case, our insurance company reimbursed the cost of the seat, and needed a photograph of the cut straps as proof that the seat would not be reused.
After the accident, we bought a Britax Marathon based on word of mouth recommendations. We have been very happy with the seat as far as comfort and ease of use. It actually is rated at 3 of 5 stars on the NHTSA ratings (see links below), which I was shocked to read because we really like it.
This time around, I would like to pay a little less if possible, and I need to know if there is another level of seat that we will be able to use longer than the Marathon as he grows.
My search for child seat safety laws didn't yield anything particularly helpful - I tend to err on the side of caution and the laws are a bare minimum. I decided I would use the 2009 Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to get a list of possibilities for comparison.
I scanned down the list for seats with 5-point harnesses, a weight range that included Deuce's current weight, and went up to 65lbs or above (so at least as much as the Marathon), and earned at least 4 stars in the NHTSA rating in both forward-facing, and booster set-ups if applicable.
Here's my list and how I narrowed it down further:
I could only find this for sale online, and I want to be able to try installing it in the truck before we buy, so this is off my list.
Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1
Toys R Us $190 This looks really comfy and has a cupholder which is cute to me. This is staying on the list, but we'd need to put it in the truck to see if it fits.
Toys R Us $180 Goes from carseat to high back booster to seatbelt positioning booster and weight up to 100 lbs. This is the highest weight rating in this price range, so to me that's a good value
Jane Indy Plus
Found online only. Again, want to be able to test it out.
The First Years True Fit
Target $180/Toys R Us $190 The manufacturer's website description doesn't have an option to compare to the next model up. I guess this doesn't have the uber-safety bar that the premiere has. It's also $100 less.
The First Years True Fit Premiere (The only seat rated 5)
Amazon $265 Pricey, but top rated. I struggle to justify spending less on safety, but... I just don't think this is reasonable for us right now. (Yes, these words coming from the mouth of a Britax owner. How times have changed.)
Based on this, we have 3 models to test out - The EB, the Graco and the less expensive First Years. The deciding factors will be (in order)
- does it fit in the truck
- how comfortable is Deuce in it
- how easily do the straps adjust (primarily tightening the harness, but also adjusting the height)
- how easy is it to install/remove
- how to remove the cover for laundering