Skipping the Infant Car Seat

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There is usually one purchasing decision expectant parents get hung up on. For some it's the stroller, for others the crib. For us, it was the car seat. Specifically, did we - non car owners - need to buy an infant car seat only to replace it with a forward-facing seat a year later or could we skip it and go straight to a convertible car seat?

We knew we'd rent a car a few times throughout the year to visit family for the major holidays and perhaps a few long weekends here and there. But we were fairly sure we'd be able to count our yearly car trips (at least for the first year of our son's life) on one hand. It seemed like everyone we knew started with an infant car seat until their child outgrew it, often around a year of age. Did we really want to buy a car seat we could only use a handful of times before we had to replace it?

So we started looking into convertible car seats (we were eying the Britax Roundabout) that our son could use up to 40 lbs. That made a lot more sense to us, but, as naive not-yet-parents, we wondered why everyone didn't do this? So we began to ask around - friends with older kids, neighbors and our local parenting listserve. What were their answers?

Totally mixed bag. (Not helpful!) Many people told us our infant would be swimming in a larger car seat like the Roundabout (which was our fear) and that we should definitely not skip it! They also praised the small size of infant car seats for bringing their baby to dinner or to transfer a sleeping baby from the car to home without waking it. And then a few people told us they did skip the infant car seat and had no problems.

What to do...what to do! In the end, we did what all parents learn to do - go with our gut. We bought the Roundabout and supplemented it with the Snuzzler (which we also used with our stroller and bouncy seat). Two years later we're still using it (sans Snuzzler) and have 17 lbs. to go before our son reaches the weight limit.

I definitely see the advantages of infant car seats for parents who drive a lot, but if you don't and are wondering the same question we were wondering - I'm giving a thumbs up to skipping the infant car seat.

Did you go straight to a convertible car seat? Glad you did or do you have regrets? Did you buy an infant car seat and wish you'd skipped it? Share your wisdom in the comments.

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Family, Car Seats, Safety & Security, Travel

As Apartment Therapy's Family Editor, Carrie covers design and modern homelife with children. A lapsed librarian, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids and is in contention to break the record for most hours spent at the playground.