The Great Car Seat Debate

Sorry for the radio silence this week. It’s been a little hectic around here. I think we’ve had dinner guests every night since last Wednesday. I love entertaining, but it makes finding time to blog more difficult.

With that said, this post is a bit belated and also a bit long. My apologies in on both fronts. We’ve been looking at buying a convertible car seat for baby girl for a couple of months now, and we finally made a decision last weekend. This weekend, I purchased the second convertible seat so that we have one in each of our cars.

I’ve got to say, picking out a car seat might be the most difficult thing we’ve had to do as parents thus far. Sure getting up in the middle of the night is no fun, and entertaining a squirmy baby girl during church is challenging, but neither of those really involves making decisions. Choosing a car seat is a big decision.

So here’s how we went about it. First, I asked all of my mommy friends which car seats they chose, and why. I was surprised at the variety of answers I received. One loves the Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL. Her reasoning made sense, so at first I thought I would just go with it.

Then I did some of my own research. It scored much lower than many others on Consumer Reports, especially with regard to ease of use and fit-to-vehicle. Over-all, it scored a full 23 points lower than the car seat we ultimately got. So the Sunshine Kids seat was out.

As I was looking at reviews on Amazon.com, I discovered that many people liked the First Years True Fit seats. Truthfully, we might have ended up with that seat, but I couldn’t find any retailers in the area who carry it. It wasn’t worth the hassle of having it shipped with the possibility of needing to return it. So that was out, too.

Then it was down to two Evenflo seats: Triumph Advance or Symphony 65. Consumer reports rated them nearly the same, although the Triumph gets a slight advantage. So off we went to Babies R Us to see if we liked either seat better.

The Triumph was a little bit less expensive, but doesn’t work as an “all in one” seat. I’m not actually convinced that matters much since the 5 point harness can be used for so long in both seats. But that’s one difference.

In truth, the difference that mattered most to us was the way the harness tightens. The Triumph uses knobs, while the Symphony 65 uses a pull strap. Although we’re used to the pull strap, I was willing to give the knobs a shot. I’d read good things, and a friend said they are easier to use than the strap.

Unfortunately, the knobs didn’t work well for our little one. One click was too loose, but she screamed because the next click was too tight. I couldn’t fit my littlest finger between the strap and her chest, so I don’t think she was just being fussy.

In the end, we decided to go with the Symphony 65. All in all, I’m pleased with our decision. And baby girl seems to like it, too.

A word of caution about the self-tightening “SureLATCH” system: It bites when you release it. No, I’m serious. The car seat bit me twice, and I have the cuts to prove it. I’ll just have to be more careful when I release the latches in the future. Other than that, we’re very happy with the seat.

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