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Occasional-use carseat for a 32-lb 34" 16-month-old
dreamriver wrote in parenting101
We don't have a car (by choice). We live in Seattle, where the public tranpsortation system takes us where we want and need to go on a daily basis. However, I'd like to start using Zipcar for trips that take us out of the city or just into areas where the bus system isn't as good.

My son is 4 and can use a booster seat, which is easy and cheap.

My daughter, on the other hand, is 16 months old. I know that technically she should still be rear-facing, but we had switched her to front-facing before we gave our car up in August simply because her hand-me-down carseat from her brother had to be switched to front-facing at 30lb and she had already hit that at 1 year.

We left our carseats with my parents back in Ohio, and there isn't a practical way to get them all the way out here.

So, P101, what would be your recommendation for a carseat that will see only occasional use (every other month at best), have to be carried on the bus to get to the Zipcar location, and will need to accomodate a 16-month-old who now weighs 32lb and is 34" tall?

ETA: We're also on a really tight budget, so price matters, which is part of why we decided to give up our car.

Cosco Scenera. It's lightweight, cheap and the safety ratings are good. It also has a 35lb rear-facing weight limit, if you're interested in putting her rear-facing again.

But it only forward faces to 40 lbs... :/

That's true, but weight gain usually slows down after 2, so she may still have a couple years on the seat. Or maybe not. :)

I agree. My 5 year old only just hit 50 pounds and she's big/tall for her age (almost as tall/heavy as her 8 year old sister who is 56 pounds and 3 inches taller). Even though the OP's kid is big for her age now, it should last at least a year and most likely at least 2 years. I guess it only lasting a year on a very tight budget doesn't sound too appealing, though.

At 40 pounds, can a kid go into a booster as long as they are mature enough to stay within the seatbelt, or is it 40 pounds + some age criteria + mature enough to stay in the seatbelt?

Moving to a booster is more about maturity than weight, since a kid can move around and the booster doing its job is dependent on the belt fitting properly, which only happens if the child is sitting properly in position without slouching, leaning out of the seat for toys or to bother a sibling, unbuckling, etc. A few 4 year olds are mature enough, most kids are more like 5, some as late as 6-7 before they're ready.

If she stays true to her brother's pattern (and so far they've followed the same growth pattern), she'll definitely slow down. He's 4y5m, 45lb and 42".

That's my daughter exactly, except I think she's closer to 44-45 inches. She was 41 inches at 3. At 1, she was 32 inches but only 20 lbs.

MyRide 65 rear faces to 40 lbs and forward faces to 65lbs. I got mine on sale for $100.

If you've got a bigger kid, you're really in a pickle when it comes to cheaper car seats. Really, anything with a higher weight limit is going to cost you upwards of a hundred bucks. If she's already 34" tall, in my experience you really wouldn't be able to keep her rear-facing by height much longer. My daughter rearfaced until about 37", just over age two, and I don't think she was 34" yet at 16 months. My thought is maybe an Evenflo SecureKid? It forward-faces and then turns into a booster, it's super light, has a really easy latch attachment, and it's the least expensive of that particular kind of seat. The main downsides are, obviously, you can't rearface in it, although you seem pretty resigned to that, and also I've found that the crotch strap is pretty tight on my 41" 3.5 year old, so I don't see how anyone could really get to 85lbs in the harness mode.

Oh, actually the limit is 65 in harness, my bad. Even that seems high for the crotch buckle situation.

I don't have a carseat suggestion (we have the Graco Nautilus or something like that, it's forward facing only) but we also don't have a car, and we bought a gogobabyz travelmate, which is basically a luggage cart for car seats. I think you could use any regular luggage seat with bungee cords though (we got the travelmate because it's safe to actually put the kid IN the car seat while you roll them around, which has actually been pretty useful, but not completely necessary either). It makes carting around the car seat a lot easier, so just wanted to throw that out there for you as I can sympathize with the whole 'not having a car but occasionally using a car' thing.


I just wanted to say that whatever you choose, pay more attention to the height limits - kids tend to outgrow seats, especially convertible seats, due to getting too tall rather than too heavy.

My in-laws bought this for their vehicle for our toddler due to its low price. http://www.amazon.com/Evenflo-Maestro-Seat-Booster-Keller/dp/B006PB2CT0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354301332&sr=8-1&keywords=maestro

It's easy to install, not too heavy and does the job. We had to upgrade from their Cosco Scenera because my then 2-year-old was too tall (for reference, she was about 37 inches and 32 pounds at the time). She's now 3, 34 lbs and about 39 inches with plenty of room to grow. It can also be used as a booster when the harness is outgrown.

A 16 month old needs to be rear facing, period. Her spine is nowhere near mature enough to handle the force of a crash and even a minor crash could be enough to cause a severe spinal injury resulting in paralysis or death.

For your situation I would go with a Safety 1st Guide 65, it's $78 at Wal Mart, rear faces to 40lbs/40" and forward faces to 65lbs with decently tall top harness slots. Will fit most kids RF to around 3 and FF to around 5. It's lightweight, and fairly easy to install.

In an ideal situation, yes, would love rear-facing. However, even in our Mazda5, I couldn't find a rear-facing carseat that accomodated a large child and also allowed for us (also tall) adults to sit a safe distance from the airbags in the front seat. Most Zipcars are not large vehicles, so I'm not counting on enough space for rear-facing.

Ideally, everyone would be rear-facing - the human body can withstand many higher G's in that position than facing forward (the reason launch vehicles have astronauts essentially lying on their backs), but of course, that isn't practical.

Thank you for your recommendation.

Sure, but the difference is an adult's cervical vertebra are fully ossified, and able to withstand much more significant force than a toddler, whose cervical vertebra are multiple pieces of bone held loosely together by cartilage. Ossification of the bone doesn't start until around age 3 and finishes around age 4, so that's why it's so crucial for kids to rear face until that ossification has a chance to happen.

And I've put rear facing kids in Honda civic hatchbacks, ford mustangs, and two door Chevy cavaliers with plenty of tall passengers, so it's definitely possible. The Guide is pretty trim front to back though, and toddlers can sit rear facing pretty upright, they don't need a full recline like a newborn.

+1

My husband is 6'4", my dad was 6'2", and we crammed my freaking behemoth Recaro Signo RF in a two-door Honda Civic.

I'd go with a Cosco Scenera, it's light weight, easy to install and work with. It doesn't have a high forward facing limit, but most kids will slow down weight gain after age 2.

I have the Scenera. It's cheap and easy to install, but if you have a tall kid don't bother. She will outgrow it in height way before weight. I'd try and find one that will convert into a booster down the road. It may cost a little more now, but you won't have to worry about a car seat for a long time.

Can you seek out a second-hand one from a friend whom you can trust enough that it's not been in an accident?

It's hard having big kids. When we rented a car on holiday, my daughter was 2 and needed to be in a carseat rather than a booster, but all the ones the car rental place had were too short for her :/ Awesome, get to choose between being in a booster when she's not ready, or being in a seat that technically won't protect her head.

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