A peek into how I shop for big purchases..

I am currently at that dreaded point in my baby’s life that I have to begin to search for the next stage of car seat. He’s 15 months, however, he is roughly the size of a 6-9 month old baby. Or — that is what the tag on the inside of his only-recently-fitting clothes says, anyway. (What gives? Babies much younger than mine are towering him in size. He is the mini-me to their Incredible Hulk!) So, at 15 months, he still has a lot of room to grow in his infant car seat, however, not needing the “convenience” of the handle and “carrier” style of the car seat, it’s time to move on.

Knowing that it will likely take me a while to decide, I have been looking into the latest convertible car seats for a while. Now that I’ve narrowed it down to 3-5 that I really like, it comes down to safety, longevity and best value for the price. (Note: this does not by any means mean cheapest. It means, am I getting the most feature for my money?)

My other two kids have always ended up in Britax car seats. The baby’s infant car seat is a Britax Chaperone, but that doesn’t mean that I will stick with Britax necessarily. Yes, Britax is known for their fairly advanced safety features and quality. They also offer me a wide variety of models that can leave my baby rear facing for many different lengths of time. These models also offer many different price points for me to choose from. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for with Britax. Their seats are very fairly priced and the increase in price from model to model definitely represents the increase in features and longevity. The Britax at the top of my list is the Boulevard 70-G3. This seat will allow him to rear-face to 40 lbs, which is more than my nearly 4-year-old weighs and barely less than my almost 7-year-old. After that, it forward faces to 70 lbs. He could be in this for a long time! It’s designed to optimize head safety, which is a huge plus. It’s also a good value for the features, currently ranging from $240-$320 depending on where you find it. They have other models above this one that I looked at, however, the size range is pretty much the exact same, but their prices were more, so this model outweighed the other’s simply because of the value.

Outside of Britax, a few other brands have caught my attention enough for me to look into them. A few have made my list of possible seats for my tiny cargo. The first; the Orbit G2 Toddler seat. And no, this did not just make my list because I lust after the stroller. (Though, the toddler car seat can be used on the stroller! Optimal for travel and car-sleepers!) I love that unlike a lot of car seats on the market, Orbit is not swarming with harmful chemicals that our children are forced to inhale. It also gives you the option of using it rear-facing with a base, allowing it to come in and out of the car with ease, and rotation to make loading baby in and out simple as well. This seat can rear-face from 15-35 lbs which for some kids isn’t an extraordinary amount of time, but my almost 4-year-old still falls into the category of fitting this seat rear-facing. It also forward faces to 65lbs and 53″ which, again, even my nearly-7-year-old would still fit in. (Though, I have heard that the seated height is not very accommodating for children with taller torsos.. however, this is not an issue for my children.) With it’s rarely discounted price tag of $380 without a base, and $500 with a base, it does make me weigh its features a little more. It’s “green” status definitely solidifies its worth and its price, to me at least. Having the option of paying more for the convenience of the base is a great perk, though. I don’t have to buy the base and can save a bit of money that way.

Then comes the Clek Foonf. Ohhhh, any car seat with a German name deserves my attention! (They also have one named Oobr. Virtual high five to Clek!) Outside of it’s completely awesome name, what caught my attention was this seats width. Under 17″ at it’s widest point, and 13″ at the base! They were posting a variety of pictures of their seat in countless models of cars, 3 across, safely! What?!? And the range of size for rear-facing is phenomenal. 25-46″ and 14-50 lbs??? Not only could my baby and almost-4-year-old rear-face… but so could my almost-7-year-old?!? Insane. It then can forward face to 49″ and 65 lbs. Height wise, not the longest when forward facing.. but well within reason for my vertically challenged children. (Point of reference, my oldest is nearly 7 and roughly 45″ tall.) The Clek Foonf is also a “green” car seat, with outstanding safety features. However, my one (and only.. really) big snafoo with this seat is its price. Between $474-$499 depending on color/print. (As much as I love the Paul Frank print.. I struggle..) Worth the price? I’m fairly certain it would be. Does it’s price outweigh the similar price on the G2 with a base? I don’t know for sure, but one thing I do know that makes me lean towards saying yes is – Clek decided purchase 100% of their materials from North American suppliers. Including final assembly. Amazing. I do have one hesitation, and that is the fact that, while Clek’s booster seats have been on the market for a while now, this car seat is not yet released. (Due to release this October, 2012) The lack of long-term usage information is slightly (very slightly!) weighing on my decision.
So… Now you’ve gotten inside my mommy-shopper head. You can all feel bad for my husband now. He has to listen to these purchase debates on a regular basis. His answer has, so far, been “I don’t know. I’m sure whatever you choose is a good decision. Can I watch Grimm now?” He’s trusting, you see. Well, trusting and smart. He knows my decision will win regardless. (He learned quickly after naming 3 little boys..)

We’ll be making this purchase in the next month or two, so watch for a post with my decision.. and how I settled upon that particular seat. As you can see, it’s going to be a doozy of a decision. Haha.

What car seats are you considering? Does your purchase process look like mine? Don’t forget, you can always go check out Lela.com for more car seat recommendations and reviews!

Note: I am not a car seat expert. Just a mom, shopping for a car seat the best that I can with the safety and well being of my children in mind. Most of us moms are not car seat experts, so we weigh the information that is provided to us. I recommend doing your research and selecting the best car seat you can with the information that the manufacturers provide to you. Best of luck in your purchases!

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