Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

Car seat preference?

It's time to move my DD into her toddler car seat.  She is 15 months old and just under 21 pounds and almost 31 inches in height....

We are having a VERY hard time deciding what kind to get.  We currently use an Orbit car seat (as well as the stroller) and LOVE it.  I know there is an Orbit toddler car seat as well....this is one that we are looking at.  We are also looking at the Britax Marathon 70 and the Diono Radian RXT as well as the Recar Pro Sport Graco SmartSeat.  

 We are first time parents, new to this kind of seat and are so confused reading all the different reviews!! We only want to buy one really good seat if possible and just transition it between the two cars when necessary. We also travel a lot (by car) and want her to be comfortable.  We plan on rear-facing until at least 2, not sure if we will go beyond that yet.  

We also possibly want to use it while traveling by plane, and we want to have ease of use to install in rentals, cabs, and older cars that do not have LATCH systems (grandparents).  Can anyone reccomend any of the above from experience...or give me some comparison...any help would be appreciated!

 

 

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Re: Car seat preference?

  • In my experience, it is a pain to install and reinstall a convertible carseat --- I highly recommend getting two carseats (even if they are therefore cheaper ones) rather than trying to reinstall a carseat correctly whenever you switch cars -- unless that happens less than once a month or so.  My DH and I both drive DD daily, so we got two Britax Boulevards, and we like them.  For travel, though, we use the cheaper seat that my parents bought for their car.
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  • I would repost this on nursery and baby gear. There are some techs there that can help. Also, if you are on FB, check out carseats for the littles.
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  • alakealake
    250 Answers 1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary 100 Love Its
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    If you are wanting to rear face longer, I would recommend a Foonf or a Diono RXT.  They are the ones that last the longest rear facing.  My nearly six year old fits in both of these rear facing.  Foonf has a higher weight rear facing limit, but has the same seated height.  It is most likely to be outgrown height wise, before weight wise.  Leah is 40 pounds and 41 inches.  She has 2 inches left in both height wise, and 10 pounds in the Foonf, and five pounds in the RXT.

    Recaro, has less leg room.  It is going to be squished when rear facing.

    Marathon, has quite a short shell and a lower weight harness for rear facing.

    Smart seat, is heavy and heavy.  It needs to be used with the base, unless used in a booster mode. 

    None of these seats are the end all.  They all make poor booster seats, but would last long enough that you could go into a cheaper booster seat.

  • We love our Foonf car seat.
    The only down fall is the price and its size/ weight. I love that it is taller/ bigger because it will fit her longer but because it is on the heavy side it isn't the most ideal to switch from car to car. It is super easy to install though so it is just the work out that I am lazy about. 

    That being said, even though it is big we haven't had a problem with it fitting into any car, even though I am sure if is better suited for bigger cars then smaller.
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  • OatoaOatoa
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    We have two - the Diono and the Evenflo Symphony 65.

    Diono is great for small cars and folds up for traveling in planes.  It is also approved for air travel.  Has a high rear facing weight limit and can be used as a booster.  However, it is dificult to tighten when rear facing.

    We got the Evenflo because it is so easy to use, has a high rear facing weight limit and can be used as a booster. You don't have to rethread the straps to move them up or the head rest:  both slide easily.  The only thing I don't like about the Evenflo is that the cover tends to slip off and it doesn't have neck protectors on the straps.

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  • We chose one based on Consumer Reports...they're all meeting guidelines...but the top rated was the evenflo triumph...so we got that...didn't hurt that it less than $200 as well. We have the one you can find at target and the DLX as well.

    We've traveled with it on planes, and in rental cars/shuttles, etc.  DH was able to get it in quickly...which was especially helpful on planes and shuttles since you have people waiting on you in those instances.

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  • We have a Britax Boulevard and Roundabout 55 for my daughter. She is almost 22 months and still fits rear facing with no problems (and she is 90th percentile for height and weight). I have used the Roundabout rear facing on an airplane with no issues. We bought the Britax travel cart and it works great with the car seat for strolling through the airport. The main reason I went with the Britax was the built in lock offs. We had to install with the seat belt in my DH's car and just found it easier to get a tight fit with the lock offs. Even though his car had the locking retractors, it never seemed to stay tight enough. Once we switched to a seat with built in lock-offs, we had no more problems.

    ETA: Here's a recent picture of her in the Roundabout (on the right). She is definitely going to fit until well past two. Also, I really recommend finding a seat with no rethread harnesses. I like the Boulevard better than the Roundabout for this reason.

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  • Just bought a Diono Radian not too long ago and like it. We bought it for a few reasons: 1) its slim so can fit 3 wide in the backseat of a car 2) airplane safe since we plan to fly alot to visit family 3) folds flat into a back pack bag for thus flying trips.

    We got the Diono Radian older model r100 or something. It doesn't have the things on the side of the head--I read those could be an issue if child is too tall/too short just them in awkward spots. We got ours $189 on sale, and it'll last her now until she is done with carseats & boosters so I'm real happy. 

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  • image Netty_3:

    We chose one based on Consumer Reports...they're all meeting guidelines...but the top rated was the evenflo triumph...so we got that...didn't hurt that it less than $200 as well. We have the one you can find at target and the DLX as well.

    We've traveled with it on planes, and in rental cars/shuttles, etc.  DH was able to get it in quickly...which was especially helpful on planes and shuttles since you have people waiting on you in those instances.


    Consumer Reports isn't the best reference to use when choosing a car seat. Pretty much any tech will tell you that. They used to do their reports on crash testing but those reports were really flawed and made many people panic. Now their reports are pretty much just based on ease of use. Yes, ease of use can be important, but limits of the seat (how long they will keep a child rear facing) is much more important, and since crash testing data is not released it's actually probably the most important factor (besides budget) when choosing a car seat. 
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  • I got two of the Britax Pavilion 70, one for each of our four door cars. Our local fire dept installed both of them for rear facing and again when I reluctantly turned my daughter to FF at 32 lbs. She could have stayed rear facing longer, but we found out the hard way that it didnt fit RF in my husband's pickup truck, only in the cars.So fortunately she weighed enough and was old enough to be turned, even though I would have preferred to keep her RF. It's safety ratings are very good, and I was very impressed with the "True side impact protection." As a paramedic, I know that side impact car crashed can be worse than rear or front impact so the added protection was very important to me. Also, those added cushions do a great job to support her head in an up position with minimal side to side movement if she falls asleep, rather than her head going forward.
  • I got the Britax Boulvard 70 when my daughter was approaching her 1st Birthday. I didn't end up switching her into it until a couple more months after her birthday but had it ready for her. I really like the Britax Boulvard for their known safety standards. It is a deep seat and I feel that it does I good job protecting her esp in the head area. I really wanted the Advocate but didn't have room in my car for three across with the Advoates extra width. The Boulvard has True Side Impact protection and deep walls for extra head support, Safe Cell technology in the base designed to compress in a crash to lower the center of gravity and steal bars to strengthen the seat.  These are just a few of the safety features that lead me to choose the seat for her. I also have used it on an airplane and in the carry bag to take it threw the airport fairly easily. I also love the pattern. I got her the pink seat cover and she still gets excited to use "my pink seat."  I am a member of the Britax Saftey Squad but the opinions expressed are my own. 
  • In my experience, it is a pain to install and reinstall a convertible carseat --- I highly recommend getting two carseats (even if they are therefore cheaper ones) rather than trying to reinstall a carseat correctly whenever you switch cars -- unless that happens less than once a month or so.  My DH and I both drive DD daily, so we got two Britax Boulevards, and we like them.  For travel, though, we use the cheaper seat that my parents bought for their car.

    We're really similar.  We got two carseats and use the cheaper seat from my mom's car for travel.

    For our cars we have the Recaro's.  DH loves the "cool" factor of them since they make seats for race cars, and I like the added safety bonus of a company that specializes in seats that are safe for high speeds/crashes/etc.  I know people complain about the shell and say the kids are scrunched, but I don't think kids mind as much as we think they do.  We just got back from a 7 hour roadtrip with my son and he was fine in his seat.

    Our "grandma"/travel carseat is the Evenflo Triumph.  And it's fine, but I hate the straps.  I can't adjust them at all with the stupid twisty/pully thing.  For that reason alone I prefer the Recaros with a really easy strap adjuster. 
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  • Skip the Graco Smartseat. It is outgrown early in RF mode, FF mode, and the booster function doesn't place the seatbelt well. It's also huge and bulky, very heavy, and I hear can be a beast to install. 

    If you like Graco though, the Graco MySize/Size4Me/Headwise (same seat, different names) is great. Since it has the tallest shell on the market, it will last any child RF until 40lbs and then will last FF for a few more years. You'll be able to buy a dedicated booster once your child outgrows this seat.
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  • allardrallardr
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary Name Dropper
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    edited August 2013
    Now I can say we've used the radian a little more and love it. LO loves it too, she will actually climb into it herself, and then she like opens her legs while sitting like she's getting comfy and relaxing. 
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  • Not on your list but we love our Evenflo Symphony 65 3e 3-in-1. My son is a smallish guy at almost 22mo, but I don't see him outgrowing the RF limits for a long time yet. We only have 1 seat and move it between vehicles a few times a week on average. It is really easy to carry around and install (with LATCH or belt) and easy to use (adjust straps, etc.). It fits well RF in numerous vehicles (Trailblazer EXT, Tahoe, Avalanche, Escalade, Cutlass, Sierra, Silverado, Grand Prix, Jetta, Suburban, Yukon XL, Dart, and more of various ages). The seat being a good match for the vehicles you plan to use it in is the biggest factor in addition to high height and weight limits and good features as a seat clearly won't do any good if it doesn't fit. There are websites out there or the FB group a PP mentioned that can help narrow your choice based on your vehicles.
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