Okay, so five kids into it, and having older, larger kids now....what car seats do you have/have had/hated/loved and in WHAT configuration in the car/minivan? We're about to have number three in April and I'm LOSING MY MIND trying to get them all to fit in out Honda Pilot without having to lay down a grand on new car seats or buy a new car. Because we JUST bought this car last June when I was sure that I wanted another baby and that this car would SURELY fit all of them. Ahem. So.
ALSO! It seems to be too much to ask that these be the safest car seats, and the ones that my children will consent to ride in b/c they are actually comfortable.
Any help! Any help at all would be lovely. Reader input would be great!
Currently I have a very tall (very long torso) 4.5 year old and a not very shrimpy either 2.5 year old and they just seem to want to outgrow things at a ferocious rate. So, when I see people still fitting their 8 (!) or even NINE year olds into the harnassed booster kind of seats on the internet and raving about how LONG your kids will fit in this and how MUCH USE you'll be sure to get out of this fabulous $300 car seat, but when I look up reviews people with long torsoed children should expect to get to about 4, maybe 5 if you're lucky---or just like living dangerously. That's when the ragey-rage and forehead abuse starts.
And, if, in your wanderings you have come across a potty seat that DOESN'T wick wee onto the rim, under the rim, onto the floor I'd be obliged :)
Hm. I HAVE liked our car seats...I think. Right now the three youngest are in those Graco booster seats that have backs on them (like this), and then you remove the backs when the child is tall/large enough. All three kids are tall enough that they're using the seats without the backs now. Once you get to plain backless booster seats, I don't think there's significant safety differences anymore from one to the next; they're just to get the child to the right height to use the car's seat belt.
When the kids were littler and needed infant seats and convertible carseats, I remember I used Consumer Reports to choose which ones to buy. Usually the top-rated one or two were triple the price and only a tiny bit safer than the next one down, so I'd get the next one down. The problem is that Consumer Reports didn't test NON-CRASH usage. That is, they didn't mention that the covers weren't removable, or that the strap was intolerably difficult to adjust. They just tested the seat in a crash---which of course is very important, but most of the seats will be through a crash 0 times and will need the covers removed 10 times and the straps adjusted 1000 times, so those issues are important to me TOO.
For all the babies, I think I got Graco infant seats. I liked the ones where you could adjust the looseness of the strap with a bit of belt that came out right under where the buckle was. SO EASY: I could loosen it wayyyy up to put the baby in without annoying him/her, then buckle it, then snug the belt up again.
When they outgrew those, the three youngest used the Evenflo convertible car seats. (I can't remember anymore what the first two kids used.) They were ENORMOUS but comfy. One of my most enduringly popular posts has been the one where I posted the instructions for removing the goddamn cover (I never did get the cover off, myself). So if I were buying such a seat today, that would probably be my primary concern: that the cover come off (FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY).
And then I think they went from those into the Graco boosters (with backs).
Our 7-seat minivan (a Toyota Sienna) has two individual seats in the middle row, and then a bench-style seat as the back row (which theoretically seats three). When we had four kids, it was easy: the two older boys sat in the back row, and the twins were in the middle row where I could more easily manage their seat belts and straps and so forth.
When Henry was born, we moved one twin car seat to the center of the back row between the two booster seats---or maybe our eldest was by then old enough not to be in a booster anymore. Let's see, he would have been eight, so yes, he probably wasn't using a booster anymore. (It's one of the upsides of having nice tall kids.)
Now that everyone's so much bigger, it's a tight fit when we go anywhere all together. Henry's car seat is in one of the two middle-row seats, and the twins are on either end of the back seat. William is smaller than Rob, so he has to cram himself in the center of the back seat; the seat belt isn't a shoulder kind, which makes me fretful. And Rob sits in the other of the two middle-row seats.
Rob is old/large enough to sit in the front seat, too, so if it's just me and the five kids, Rob sits in the front seat, William and Henry sit in the middle row, and Edward and Elizabeth sit in the back row.
But all the car seat stuff has changed since I was choosing. So it's good we have a comments section, so that other people can weigh in with more current information.
About the toilet seat, this is the one we have:
|(photo from Amazon.com)|
The child seat nests into the upper lid of the toilet, so you don't have to take anything on and off each time. My brother/sister-in-law, my parents, and I all have the same potty seat system, but I think there's a different brand name on each one; it seems like it's the same seat issued under different brands, rather than competing products. All, I think, have "Next Step" on the upper inner top lid, and then a different name on the lower inner top lid. It's a great seat for many, many reasons---but sadly there is still periodic wicking of wee.
[P.S. In Google Reader it LOOKS as if there was also another post today, called Lucky. But actually I posted that years ago. I went into it looking for something, and when I went out of it again it had somehow turned into an unpublished draft. So I hit publish---and it showed it published today, with all comments lost. I'm so frustrated, and am just leaving the post down. It wasn't all that awesome anyway.]