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.
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.
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.