When I was pregnant with Kye we registered for everything under the sun. I did some research on things but for the most part we just went with what seemed to be the most popular choices. For his infant car seat we had the Chicco Keyfit it came as part of our travel system and we bought an extra base for Zach’s car. We LOVE that car seat. We used it for Kye until he outgrew it and we also have used it for Brittlynn. It’s set to expire so we plan to go ahead and sell the seat and base at the next kids sale but we WILL be buying a new Chicco Keyfit for babies #3 and #4 (and more?) to use.
Also while pregnant with Kye we registered for a TON of stuff. We were SO blessed with a million baby showers and ended up having over $1,000 worth of returns (remember this post???). We had so much money to spend at Toys R Us that day that we went ahead and bought both of Kye’s “big boy” convertible car seats. I did some research before buying them…I researched like EVERYTHING we registered for as I made our registry list. I didn’t do hardcore research but I did enough to know that the seat we bought for him was the best fit for both his safety and our budget.
When Kye was 8 months old it was time to change him to the “big boy” seat, you can read that post here! For Brittlynn, I knew the day was coming where we would have to make the switch. Not because of her weight, but her length. Thanks to her weight being smaller, we have been able to keep her in the infant seat longer than we did Kye so I had more time to do TONS of research.
Many people suggested moving Kye to a booster seat and then putting Brittlynn in Kye’s current seat. I just don’t feel comfortable with that. First off all because Kye can still use his car seat. A car seat is safer than a booster so the longer he can stay in the actual seat, the better. Also we bought his seat in 2009. It’s now the end of 2012. It’s been three years and a TON has changed. The biggest change though? That the recommendation for rear facing is now at least two years old. It’s not required but it’s recommend to keep children rear facing as long as possible. Even when we had Kye they were starting to up the age for rear facing, but it wasn’t a wide spread thing. Pretty much EVERYONE I knew turned their babies around prior to hitting their first birthday. Not us! Kye remained rear-facing until he was 20 months old. You can read about when we made the switch here.
We decided to turn Kye forward facing due to his height. His little legs were really cramped so we decided to make the change. Seeing as Brittlynn is already so long, I wanted to research and find a seat that would have a large HEIGHT allowance when rear-facing. Hands down, buying a car seat is more stressful and confusing than buying an actual car (and that was a PAIN, remember?). I ended up spending over six hours researching car seats.
When I first started on my hunt I went to trusty Facebook to get the opinions of my friends…and THE car seat they all recommended was Britax. I looked into it, and they are wonderful seats. However, not one of the people who said they loved the Britax car seat also said they kept their child rear facing for longer than a year. All the reviews I read seemed to say similar things. Great seats, but not good for long term rear facing. I researched, and researched, and researched. Finally I went to sleep and woke up the next morning refreshed and reminded myself of MY personal car seat goals:
1. Safety: They are ALL safe, they ALL must meat the same safety standards…the REAL thing with safety is how easy the seat is to install. A properly installed car seat, is a SAFE car seat so finding a car seat that would be easy to properly install and use correctly was important.
2. Longevity for rear facing use: To me, this is CRUCIAL. This article explains why…”A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention
found that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or
to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study
found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing.” The APP guidelines used to recommend keeping a baby rear facing as long as possible but that age 1 and 20 lbs was an okay time to turn them forward. NOW they are recommending to remain rear facing for as long as the car seat allows, at least until age 2
3. Cost: Typically this is higher up on my list of important things, but I also knew we plan to use this seat for awhile and in the area of safety, cost can’t be the top priority ya know? When we bought Kye’s big kid car seats in 2009 they were roughly $130 each. I was hoping to spend around the $150 range for Brittlynn’s.
I know that MANY people swear by their Britax seats, and I’m not saying they are not great. After reviewing my goals, however, I knew they weren’t the best seat for our situation. More expensive does not always mean better and I feel like sometimes people may just purchase those seats b/c they are the “higher end” car seat brand.
I broke down and ended up googling exactly what I was looking for “extended rear facing car seats.” I found this article that totally made my super long research pointless. I should have just googled from the start haha. Further reviews of the Graco Size4Me 70 were equally awesome and I knew I’d found the seat for us!!! It’s ranked very high in safety and easy of installation. It has THE highest length allotment in rear facing mode. And I found it for $169.99 each at Baby Supermarket.
It is a BRAND new seat (just put on the market back in August) so there is only one available pattern so far and it may be awhile before it’s available for purchase at all the big box stores. I’m fine with the pattern. I don’t like loud patterns anyway and to me this is plenty attractive. I mean it’s a car seat. Who really cares???
Zach installed the seat in each of our cars in under 10 minutes. He said it was a BREEZE. Much easier than the installation of Kye’s seat. It features that “air” thing at the head rest that all the car seats seem to have now and it looks super comfortable. Brittlynn was getting to the point in her infant seat where her head was close to reaching the top of it (they say it’s time to change seats when your child’s head is an inch from the top) so we moved her up on Oct 6th (the day Britt turned 10 months old!)
The downside of the “big kid” car seat is no more toy bar for her to play with…but she loves getting to hold her toys (and throw them over the side of the seat…)
I drive a 2011 Traverse and the passenger seat can be all the way back with this car seat installed, however it causes it to be at an unsafe incline, so it is not something I’d recommend doing. In Zach’s car he put her seat behind the passenger seat as well because he has to drive with his seat all the way back as far as it can go.
EASY to tell if it’s leveled correctly, if the ball is in the green zone you’re good to go. So you can tell with the seat back it’s not all the way in the green area.
We’ve been using the seat for a few weeks now. At first my struggle was with the straps. I had a hard time pulling them tight enough on her but I realized that it’s best to tighten them from the back of the seat then pull the strap at the bottom. It’s a breeze now and I feel like it’s a snugger fit than her infant seat. It DOES concern me for when we switch to forward facing as I’m not sure how I’ll tighten the straps then since I won’t be able to reach the back of the seat??? Guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there!
Her little toes do already touch the seat, however this isn’t really something a different seat would change. I know that it’s best to teach your children to sit “indian style” while rear facing. While we don’t think that would be comfortable, they don’t know any different. I plan to keep Brittlynn rear facing for AS LONG as this seat will allow her to do so, but at minimum until she’s 2. Three years old is actually my goal though 🙂 Technically with the high weight and height limits this car seat has for rear-facing…KYE could still be rear facing in it!!!! And he’ll be four in March! How awesome is that???
I’m VERY satisfied so far with the Graco Size4Me 70 car seat. I’m glad I did all the research and really feel confident that this is the best car seat to fit our needs. I know many of you were on the hunt for a convertible car seat at the same time I was and I can safely say I highly recommend this seat!!!
Here’s more stats on the Graco Size4Me 70:
- Helps protect rear-facing infants from 4-40 lbs. and forward-facing toddlers from 20-70 lbs.
- Rigorously crash tested to meet or exceed U.S. safety standards
- Side Impact tested – In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards,
- One hand, 8-position adjustable headrest easily adapts to your growing child’s needs
- One-second LATCH attachment featuring our exclusive In Right™ LATCH system
- 5-point, front-adjust harness helps you get baby in and out
- 2-crotch belt positions for your growing child
- EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management
- Easy-to-read level indicator for hassle-free installation
- 3-position recline keeps your growing child comfortable
- Integrated cup holder keeps drinks within your child’s reach
- Removable head and body support helps keep baby comfy
- Machine washable pads
- Side Impact tested – In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards,
the Size4Me™ 70 car seat has been side impact tested for occupant
retention by the harness system
This car seat will not expire for 8 years. My plan is to buy a new infant seat for baby #3. During that time Brittlynn will remain in this seat, Kye will move up to a booster. When Baby #3 moves up they will go to Brittlynn’s seat and she will go to a booster (assuming it all works out timing wise) who knows what Kye will be in at that point? I’m not sure how the seating goes with the older kids? Possibly still a booster then for him? Baby #4 should be able to use baby #3’s infant seat but we’ll probably have to buy baby #4 a convertible car seat as this one may be expired by then. 🙂 We should be able to get two kids use out of this seat though!!! Assuming, of course, no major changes happen between now and then!
Brittlynn is a LOT happier in the car now that she’s in the convertible seat. She can see Kye and they laugh and laugh at each other. She couldn’t really see him before since she was so reclined in the infant seat and I think being able to interact makes her car rides a TON smoother for us all!!!
They actually still make Kye’s exact car seat. It’s the Alpha Omega Elite by Safety 1st. When it was rear facing it was a pain but now that it’s forward facing it’s great! He can climb into it himself and it’s easy to buckle him in and make sure the straps are secure. I love the cup holder and how easy it is to move the headrest up as he grows. It does convert to a booster seat, but when I was researching for Britt’s seat I learned that NONE of the convertible car seats on the market that convert to booster should actually be used as boosters. It’s safer to buy a new booster seat as none of the convertible ones convert to a booster seat very well. I found this blog post that explains all the car seat/booster safety stuff in an easy to understand way! Kye still has a bit of room left in his car seat and it goes up to 40 lbs…so he’s still got a good 5 lbs left too so I’m not rushing to figure out the next step for him. Figuring all this out for Brittlynn was enough of a hassle! Give me a little time before I’m ready to move to the next big car seat adventure 😉
You can see how Kye’s seat still has space to go higher, giving him a longer time to use the harness which is THE safest way for him to be for as long as possible!!!
I’m thankful I was able to do all of this research and that we found a great car seat for Brittlynn! I feel very safe knowing my children are sitting in properly installed car seats that fit their needs for their age, weight, and height!!! It’s ALL about peace of mind, right??? 🙂
Hope this helps some of you in your decision making process of the “big car seat” purchase!!!