Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Five Stars = The Best, Right?

It's a momentous occasion in the world of the Wee One. A milestone achieved only after the hard work of growing somewhat continuously for over a year.

It is time for a new carseat.

Anyone watching my Twitter feed may have noticed a link to Amazon about a week ago, when I decided to make the big purchase. I researched and read. I wanted something good for extended rear-facing, one that was safe but also comfortable. As we all do, I wanted The Best.

It's difficult to find the answer to What Is The Best. The National-Highway-Traffic-Safety-I-Don't-Remember-What-All-The-Letters-Mean agency rates "Ease Of Use". The theory being that if a child restraint is easy to use, then it is more likely to be properly installed. All carseats on their list meet all the government regs, so it's not a SAFETY rating per se.

That "Ease Of Use" rating? It's as close as you get to any ranking toward Best, folks.

I googled "best car seat". Hey, it was a place to start. This particular seat came up in the search, and when I went to the site, there was a big image touting that they had received the NHTSA's Five Star rating. Awesome.

That's when I found out it's an Ease Of Use rating. Not a Guaranteed To Keep Your Child Alive and In One Piece rating, but ok, we'll go with it.

The Overall Ease Of Use rating comes from a combination of ratings in four categories. I pored through the charts on combination and 3-in-1 seats. If the seat had a 4-star rating but only 2 stars in the "restraint of child" column - as in, "you didn't restrain the child well, but you had great labels and your instructions rock!" then I skipped that one.

(Seriously, go to that 3-in-1 list and scroll down the column marked "Securing The Child". How many one- and two-stars do you see? That's scary.)

Well, basically, I went down the rows and didn't see another seat rated as highly as this one (look at all the stars!) except for the Britax ones. And I didn't want to spend THAT much money, and I just have a philosophical bent against being a Britax Mommy. So that's how I decided. Great, huh?

I spent a couple of days ruminating on my decision, then went back to research more. Basically I liked the seat, and I didn't find anything significant to say another seat was "better" or that there was any reason to not get this seat. Then the comparison shopping began.

I had to have free shipping. That was a must. The price on the company's website and Amazon were the same, and I got free shipping both places, so I went with Amazon. They estimated shipping at 5-9 days, and it came right on Day 5.

Here's where you get to see cute photos of Wee One. I took it out of the box so we could have a look at it. Also, it took up much less room in the middle of the living room when it wasn't in the box. I read the instruction manual (yes, I'm one of those people).
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And that's where I started finding the typos. And that's when I started bitching.

Saturday was music class. Last ride in the old seat.
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Then Mommy needed new glasses and contacts, so we went to get those. When we got home it was beautiful outside, so Wee One got to play on a blanket in the yard while Mommy cleaned out the car and then installed the car seat.
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More bitching.

This seat is like a luxury liner. Trying to park in the backseat of a submarine. Or some kind of twisted analogy like that.

It's big. And my car is small. Now I know why people buy minivans and SUVs when they have kids. If I did end up having "another" before Wee One is big enough to just use the seat as a booster, I'd be in trouble. There isn't enough room on either side to put the Snugride back in. And there isn't enough room behind my seat for either one. And I don't want to buy another vehicle before mine is even paid off. Guess that answers that question, huh.

A post about carseats becomes a post about whether or not to have another baby. Am I off track?

Finally, its in. Wee One goes in.
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And starts crying.
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And starts melting down.
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Clearly, not a fan of the new seat.

A couple of short trips to Nan's to try it out. Crying the whole time, of course. To daycare on Monday was fine, but home was full of crying. Could have something to do with wanting to nurse, too.

I don't think the whole time she was in the Snugride that the straps were as tight at they should have been. First she was small and it was hard to get them tight enough. Then her Nan and Grandpa thought I had them too tight and that I was torturing her, so they "loosened" them. I tightened, Dad loosened. I quit trying to keep them snug, and just started praying we never had to find out what "too loose" meant. It made it easier to get her in and out when they were a little loose.

This car seat has the adjustable harness. There is a button on the bottom that you push and then you can pull the harness straps out. Easy to get her out that way. When you put her in, you pull the strap to cinch the harness back down. You are not supposed to be able to pinch any of the belt in your fingers.

Which, of course, you could when she was in the Snugride.

There are padded shoulder strap protectors. But she's still not quite used to that snug feeling. So its taking some getting used to. But boy, it makes Mommy feel MUCH BETTER that she's protected.


After all that, I'm a little peeved. I spent good money on what I thought was a high end (The Best) carseat. And they can't even put time into editing their stupid instruction manual so that it doesn't have errors? I spent all this time researching and I paid MONEY to this company who can't even write instructions in English sentences?

I bet Britax's instructions were better.
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1 comment:

Funky Mama Bird said...

Don't feel bad about the size of the car. I had a teeny-tiny Mazda when Gunnar was born. And we bought a convertible car seat from day one. An Alpha-Omega. Went right in, no problem. Lots of room for my step-kids on either side of him.
Then, since we are moving to camp road in NH, I just bought a Forester, since my Mazda would never make it to our driveway. And? I could BARELY fit the stupid thing in there! I had to put it on one side, not in the middle which makes me NUTS since I'm convinced someone might T my car, but the car seat is too big for the middle. Too big for my giant car, when it fit perfectly in the wee little Mazda. Which is making me contemplate getting another car seat, even though we bought this one because he could use it from birth until 80lbs. Grr...