When we were planning baby gear, we didn’t get an infant car seat, we just started with a convertible car seat. I’ve shared our reasoning with several friends, and I wanted to share it here, too.
When you’re talking about a carseat to put a newborn in, you have two choices:
1) Infant car seat: this is the type that you see babies get carried around in and set on the floor in restaurants in. The baby lays in a fairly horizontal position and is low in the car in this type of seat. This is also the type of seat you can clip into some strollers with the right attachment and that has a separate base that stays in the car, meaning you can have one seat and two bases for two different cars. Most of these car seats can also be installed without the base using just the seat belt. Two examples are the Graco Snugride and the Britax B-Safe. These seats are usually safe to 30 or 35 lbs, 29-32 inches tall, or when baby’s head is closer than 1 inch from the top of the car seat, whichever comes first, though if you have this type of carseat, you should definitely check the regulations for your particular model. The limitations on how big your baby can be and still ride safely should be specified on the seat. Babies generally outgrow this seat sometime between 5 and 12 months, depending on baby’s height and body proportions. You could have a baby with a long torso that is still technically within the weight and overall height limits on a seat, but can no longer ride safely because his or her head is not contained appropriately within the top of the seat. Also, a report came out last year that said that babies should be moved out of their infant seat by age one.
2) Convertible car seat: this is the type that stays in the car. Infants might need an insert in order to ride in this type of seat (depends on the seat). The baby can recline at an angle that is safe for their limited head control, but generally sits up higher and slightly more upright than in an infant car seat. You can put very little babies in some of these seats, and then the seats can be used up to much higher weight and height limits. Two examples are the Clek Fllo and the Graco 4Ever.
Why we chose the Clek Fllo and skipped the infant seat all together:
- I didn’t want to buy an infant seat that my baby might outgrow in as few as 5 months. I didn’t want to store an extra car seat for the next baby or have to buy another car seat in the first year.
- I didn’t want to carry the baby around in the car seat or push the baby in the car seat in the stroller. The infant seats weigh at least 7.5 lbs, so add an 8+ lb baby and you’re already lugging a not insignificant amount of weight around. I occasionally lifted the 20 lb twins that I nannied for in their infant seats, and it was a lot. I felt like I would much rather carry my baby in my arms or in a baby carrier. We got the stroller + bassinet because we wanted to have the option of a bassinet to take into restaurants and have a place for Plum to hang out if needed and because I wanted her to get used to hanging out flat on her back in the stroller, which is how we wanted her to be comfortable sleeping (as you probably know, back sleeping is the safest for SIDS prevention). We ended up using the bassinet for sleeping in the house (naps and night time), too, which was a bonus that we didn’t anticipate and which we would not have been able to do with an infant car seat because they are not approved for sleeping.
- I wanted to have one car seat that would work rear-facing for as long as possible. Our friend who is a pediatric emergency doctor recommends that children stay rear-facing ’til age four. Knowing that we were likely to have a tall/large kid, I wanted to get the seat that would last the longest, and that’s the Clek Fllo. It has one of the highest weight and height limits for rear-facing.
- I knew that some babies hate the car, and one theory about why they hate it is that they can’t see out. Many convertible car seats allow them to sit more upright. Plum never hated the car, and obviously I don’t know if this is because of the convertible car seat or because she is generally easy going (probably the easy going thing, honestly).
- We didn’t need to think about switching the car seat back and forth between cars.
All of that said, this is just what made the most sense for us. Most people do start with an infant seat, and I am sure it works very well or else the car seat companies wouldn’t sell so many of them. As a parent, you decide what is best for your family.