Cruising With My Newborn in a Convertible…Car Seat

This is a guest post from the lovely Reedu of ReeWrite.com. If you are interested in writing a guest post for A Lot of Loves on an appropriate topic of your choosing (e.g. parenting, activities, food, craft, gardening, etc.) please contact me!

When my son was six days old I put him in his car seat for the first time and drove an hour east from my home in New York City to my parents’ house on Long Island. When I arrived and opened up the door to the back seat of my car I found my son awkwardly curled forward in the shape of a cashew nut. I frantically unfastened the straps of the car seat and found, much to my relief, that he was fine.

What then was the problem with this not-so-cheap Britax Boulevard Convertible Car Seat that my husband dutifully installed before my due date? The problem, it turned out, was in the name. I had my newborn baby in a convertible car seat and not an infant car seat.

Wait. Before you call social services on me, let me explain.

This may be hard for you to understand if you live in a sprawling house with a basement, attic and garage that utilize as storage. In New York City, every square foot, make that every square inch, is a commodity. Second to your closet space is the size and ergonomic-ability of your stroller. If it doesn’t twist and fold like origami, it has no place in this city.

When I was pregnant and registering for baby items I did a ton of research on car seats. But because of our lack of storage space, I wanted to find just ONE that would work from infancy through toddler years. According to Babies R Us’s website, the Britax Boulevard Click & Safe Car Seat can be used in rear-facing configuration for children from 5 to 35 pounds and in forward-facing configuration for children from 20 to 65 pounds.

My son was born 7.5 pounds. We made the cut.

1My son rode in this for an hour when he was just six days old. A big oops.

My father jostled the car seat around a bit looking for ways to recline it and when it wouldn’t budge I drove to Babies R Us (without my son) and confided in a sales agent. I pointed to the car seat on the store shelf that I had purchased for my newborn son. The sales agent’s eyes widened as he gasped. He then hauled an infant car seat off the shelf and practically threw it at me. “This is what he should be in,” he told me. But I didn’t understand, the Britax website said it could support babies that are five pounds. “Could, yes. But should, no.”

Jose the sales agent went on to demonstrate and explain why babies are safest in infant car seats. He strapped a doll into the convertible car seat and shook it vigorously. The dolls head folded over and it did a face plant. Jose then did the same to the doll in the infant car seat and its head moved gently from side to side in between the padding.

A wave of guilt came over me then and I broke down crying in the middle of the car seat section of a baby superstore. I was a new and very inexperienced mom. Jose’s simulated car seat sequence was a huge wake up call. It was all so overwhelming.

Between sobs I told Jose my husband was in the city working and I wasn’t sure if I would be capable of installing it on my own. I did my best damsel in distress routine. And it worked.

Jose lugged the massive box that contained the Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat to the counter and even swiped my credit card for me. Because store policy doesn’t allow him to install car seats for customers, he supervised the operation while I installed it, double checking each step. My worst critic had become my best friend. (Especially after I gave him $20).

I drove back to my home in the city from Long Island later that night and when I opened the door to retrieve my son from his new car seat I was relieved to see he was not curled over like a cashew. His head and neck were safely nestled in the seat’s padding and I could even remove the car seat from its base without waking him up.

2My son at four months old, nestled in his infant car seat.

What’s that saying, penny wise and pound-foolish? Well I don’t care if my precious cargo needs five different car seats in his lifetime. He’s going to get them. Even if it means storing them in the bathtub!

Please tell me I’m not alone! Are there any other moms and dads out there that made near-catastrophic mistakes as a new parent? I’d love to hear them…

Reedu lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, adorable baby boy, handicapped pitbull, and two geriatric cats. She’s a natural birth advocate, and if she has time to spare, she devotes herself to animal protection.

Comments

  1. says

    We have a convertible car seat that we use for my daughter. I know how large they are. I can’t believe that it’s legal for the car seat manufacturers to claim that a convertible car seat can safely hold an infant of 5 lbs.

    Thanks for your post, Reedu!

  2. says

    We had an extra long infant, and so the infant rear facing seat I had dutifully researched and bought was quickly too small and we upgraded to a convertible as soon as he could hold his head up. To this day, (now nearing 3) Kale is a whisker past 30 pounds but tall as all get out. I worry that he will be waaayyy too tall for his seat’s big-kid configuration. I guess what I’ve learned is that despite the advertising, it’s unlikely there is a car seat for all stages.

  3. says

    I’ve used both convertible seats and infant carriers, and have never had a problem with the convertibles like you described. It’s best if you get your seat checked by a carseat tech (an actual, certified car seat tech), because they can fix a lot of problems. My van has seats that tip backwards, so to get the proper recline on a convertible, I have to use half a pool noodle to make the seat level. At least you found a seat that works for you!

  4. says

    I use the damsel in distress routine a LOT – I’m a real crier. Especially when my kids were that young, I was like a non-stop faucet.

    Scary, isn’t it? The advertising “5 pounds”, yikes! Glad you got the correct car seat!
    Nicole´s last blog post ..Its a Long Way to Tipperary

      • ThrilledMommy says

        I did not have such a scary experience but just wanted to share some info. an alleviate some concern about Britax and the convertible car seat. I just bought the Advocate CS by Britax but was and am still using an infant car seat…ready to change over any day now as my daughter is 18-1/2 lbs and wakes up when we get into the house anyway..so WHY am I breaking my back?! :o) ANYWAY, what I learned when researching the convertible car seats, at least with the one I bought, you need to buy a newborn insert for it. It helps secure the newborn and angle her in the right direction. I don’t think this information is quite as obvious as it should be…hope it helps someone who is concerned. That said, I still would use an infant car seat for younger infants as that is what is recommended.

  5. says

    I just find that I’m kind of “over” the sticker shock of how much kids cost. When I was a new mom I was really committed to not “over-spending” on all the “gack” that children didn’t “need” a mere decade ago. So my first baby rode around in a second-hand carseat that someone gave us that was definitely more than 5 years old. I figured that recommendations against second-hand baby stuff was basically a marketing coup.

    Now I own a 700 dollar stroller. Yup.
    Betsy´s last blog post ..An Open Letter to the HERS Foundation on the Anniversary of my Hysterectomy

    • says

      That’s funny stuff Betsy. I was kind of the opposite in the beginning… I wanted all new but just didn’t want two of everything. And that squeaky Sophie teething giraffe? I was like “yea right, that’ll be the day I buy a $20 giraffe that my dog’s going to think is for her.” But, you do. In any case, I’ve come a long way in a short amount of time because I am so much more open to hand-me-downs now then I was when I was expecting. ~Ree
      Reedu´s last blog post ..Giving Up Bread for a Week

      • Betsy says

        Hilarious.

        I never would have bought Sophie for my firstborn. I totally bought Sophie for number 3. She was very persistent about throwing it out of the 700 dollar stroller. I kept picking it up and putting it back in but of course she eventually won and got rid of it. They always do.

        I think there’s a relationship between how much you pay for something and how likely they are to throw it in a gutter when you’re not looking.

  6. says

    I’m still kidless, thankfully, because I returned university to do nursing school. I’m in my community/obstetrics rotation right now, and we were talking about new parents transporting their kids, and I said but… I thought you just go to the firehall and they’d check it for you?

    WOW. Ok, I guess that’s old school, because they sure don’t do that in Edmonton anymore. However, I did learn that you can generally go to public health clinics and the nurses there can help you. Many public health clinics even have a nurse on staff who is specifically trained in car seat installations! Good to know… but I have no idea how you, a brand new mom, would or could have known all of that.
    Geni´s last blog post ..Concentrate- concentrate

    • says

      Hi Geni! In general, customer service in New York City tends to be as harried as life is here. I remember coming across one service that actually charges to teach you how to install the seat! My hubs, who’s pretty handy wasn’t having that so I put in a call to the local fire department in the suburbs where I grew up. When I inquired if they could help with the installation or at least double check how we installed it they acted shocked, as if I had asked them to put out a five-alarm fire. It wasn’t worth making my husband look like a total nincompoop, since he’s the one that installed it. In any case, it was a great learning experience. ~Ree
      Reedu´s last blog post ..Bittman Bites Down on Agribusiness

  7. says

    Babies don’t come with operating manuals (but they should!). I bet a lot of people have made that mistake. We drove for 6 months without the tethers when we switched to the Britax. A big 6 month oops!

  8. says

    yeah we had a 2nd hand infant seat for Adam..with NO base. This was 8 years ago. BUT…I do recall the nurses at the hospital checked it and had a rule about refusing to let kids go in cars and seats they didn’t deem safe…don’t know how they would STOP you. AND the BCAA also checked the seat and said it was fine…

    Time have changed even since then.
    Crunchy Carpets´s last blog post ..DARE Bear Paws Crackers

    • says

      As far as I know hospitals still check the seat the baby leaves in, however the hospital where I gave birth is a few short blocks away from where we live and so we walked home. I was thinking though, that if we hadn’t, then I would have been screwed, or laughed at when my husband lugged the ol’ Britax on to the maternity ward!
      Reedu´s last blog post ..Springtime in Brooklyn- if Only for One Day

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