carseat reviews

When Nate was born, we borrowed his cousin's infant carseat. We bought a second base for it so that he could ride in either the Toyota (with me) or the Honda (with Rodgers). In case Rodgers had to pick Nate up from daycare, I would carry him and the carseat into daycare each day. Eventually, he got to be too heavy to be carrying around in a heavy carseat/infant carrier. But, I couldn't leave him at daycare without a carseat. If I ended up being late, Rodgers would have to pick Nate up, and would have no way to take him anywhere if I didn't leave the carseat there. We decided the best course of action would be to buy a convertible carseat. We'd need two eventually, but since Nate still fit in the infant carseat, we could start with just one. The convertible would go in the Toyota, and we'd leave the infant carseat in the Honda.

I subscribe to Consumer Reports. I signed up when we were checking out all sorts of baby items. I have used it most in researching carseats. You see, there are these $300 carseats that everyone raves about, and I needed to see if they were actually that much better than the reasonably priced ones, or if it was a fad brand thing.

The most important things to us in choosing a carseat are safety and affordability. I'd anticipated we would have to spend $150 per carseat, and of course we'd need two. All carseats have to meet a minimum safety requirement in order to be sold, so they are all safe. Most are rated "Very Good" by CR in the safety department. But there are two which are rated "Excellent," one in the up-to-40-lbs-capacity category, and one in the over-40-lbs-capacity category. Neither of them are particularly expensive. One is actually the lowest priced convertible carseat I've heard of. That is the one we decided to get when Nate was 4 months old.

It isn't very plush, and doesn't have any bells or whistles (except for a pretty nice cup holder). But, it is very safe, easily installed, fits in both of our vehicles, and is a fine carseat.  What's more, at only $40, we could buy a bunch of them at my $150-each allotment. It can be rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward-facing up to 40 lbs. It's the Cosco Scenera.

from Amazon

The only complaint I have about it is that the straps get twisted. When comparing it with the second convertible carseat we bought, I would always recommend the second, unless you're on a tight budget. There's really nothing wrong with the Scenera. It's just not very awesome.

Nate is now 8 months old and is approaching the limit for the infant carseat. It goes up to 22 lbs and 29 inches. When I took his stats on his 8 month birthday, in my wildly inaccurate home measuring techniques (bathroom scale and tape measure, which isn't easy to use on a baby), he was 19.5 lbs and 27 inches. We've got probably 2 months before he exceeds the limits, but we decided to go ahead and get a second convertible now. We'd intended to simply pick up another Scenera. But, I was beginning to be seduced by the very plush, comfy, fancier models.

In the end, I was most drawn to the other "Excellent" crash test rated convertible. It has the highest overall rating that CR has given a convertible carseat (even higher than the expensive brand). I read the reviews to see why people like it and discovered that the shoulder straps aren't threaded through the carseat. They run along a track and you slide them up and down to adjust. The strap length isn't adjusted by pulling on a strap, pushing a switch and pulling other straps, none of which are easily done while the seat is installed in the car. No, these straps are adjusted by little knobs on the sides of the carseat. Also, this carseat has been side-impact tested, which not all carseats are. It has multiple recline positions, though you have to use it in the most reclined position for rear-facing. It is rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward-facing up to 50 lbs. At three times the price of the Scenera, this carseat can be yours for the reasonable price of $120. Not bad. It's the Evenflo Triumph Advance.

a newer Triumph, from Amazon

When I told Rodgers that's the one I wanted, I got confused and told him the Titan. Evenflo also makes the Titan, but it's not as awesome. It seems comparable to the Scenera, but costs around $95. Rodgers went to WalMart while I was at work that day and came home with the Titan. I was disappointed, but thought it might be ok. After some deliberation, I asked him to return it, which he did, and we ordered the Triumph. It arrived on Friday. It is every bit as wonderful as I imagined. The only thing I don't like is the cup holder.

In summary, I (so far) highly recommend the Evenflo Triumph Advance to everyone. If you are a tight budget, I recommend the Cosco Scenera.


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