It's almost been a month since I promised to hammer out a post extolling the virtues of extended rear-facing (ERF), this is not that post but it is a car seat post.
I was linked to an awesome post about car seat safety and how the dollar value of the seat is not directly proportional to how safe your child will be in that seat. Bursting the Britax Bubble, talks about how some parents have taken to using their Britax car seat as a synonym for safety. I cannot count on one hand how many times I have heard a parent proudly proclaim that their child was worth the steep asking price of a Britax, and yet they turned their child forward facing at the bare minimum (because it was easier?). Which (in my opinion) makes the $300+ that was just spent an absolute waste... for a long time a huge draw to a Britax was the fact that you could RF your child longer than the industry standard. Why buy a seat that will RF to 35-40lbs (and spend a lot of money on that seat) so you can turn your child FF at a year/20lbs/etc? I digress, that is not what this post is about...
"No matter how much you paid for it, no car seat will jump up and save your child if you use it incorrectly." Exactly, *good* seats come in more than just one price range... the most important points to keep in mind when buying a car seat:
1) Your child! Consider *their* build, if you have heavy/stocky children, you may need to look at a higher weight limit and having the *highest* harness slot height may not be as important of a consideration...
2) Your car. Does it fit, well. Like really well, not just kinda sorta? If it doesn't fit in your car, it doesn't matter how awesome the seat is, it only works if it stays in the car.
3) Installation. All things considered. The seat fits your child. The seat fits your car... *NONE* of this matters if you half-ass the installation. Read your owners manuals (yes, plural... your car AND your seat).
4) Proper use. Make sure that the chest clip is actually a chest clip (not a belly or neck clip). Make sure that the straps are tight enough (because what's the point in strapping them in, if you don't have them snugly harnessed?)
I am a huge fan of the True Fit... the harness adjustment can be a bit of a pain in the ass whilst RF (it essentially points directly into the seat back *sighs*), but it has nice high harness slots, and a great RF/FF weight limit (35lbs and 65lbs respectively). I am not the installer of seats in our family but I've been told that it's fairly easy to get a super snug installation. I also like that it's at least $50.00 cheaper than the cheapest Britax... sure it doesn't come in Cowmooflage but it's still pretty awesome.
What works for my car and my children, may not be the best choice for your car and your children. It's always best to go to a store where you can test the seats out (so, they let you plop your kiddies in the seat and take the floor model out for a quick install in your car)