The Best Infant Car Seat?

 Inertia
 SnugRide35
 KeyFit30

What is the BEST car seat available for your infant? This question is asked by most parents when a new baby is on the way. We all do research to seek out as many reviews and recommendations as we can find. I think the truth is that there isn’t a “best” car seat, there is simply what meets most of your preferences. I compared the 2 most popular, Graco Snugride 35 and the Chicco Keyfit 30 to the Baby Trend Inertia using some of the characteristics I think are most considered.

 

But, before I get into these details I must comment on the safety factor. The single most important quality in a car seat is safety, but it is really difficult to actually compare this. Every car seat on the market has passed Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards. The only government information you can easily find are NHTSA ratings on their ease of use in four basic categories: Evaluation of Instructions, Evaluation of Labels, Vehicle Installation Features, Securing the Child. They note that all rated seats are safe, so how do you pick which one is safer than another? I don’t think you really can unless you rely on consumer reports and crash test YouTube videos you can find. So, for this reason you will not see safety on my list below.

 

LATCH Installation

Baby Trend Inertia: This carseat base has a rigid LATCH system install which is extremely easy and gives you much peace of mind. You don’t have to pull any straps to make sure it is tight enough. The base simply has 2 bars with claw-like snaps that grab onto your car’s LATCH system. Line them up and snap them on and that’s it! Angles don’t matter when using the base either which makes installation even easier to get right.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The KeyFit LATCH system of the Chicco is easy to use and install correctly. It has claw-like snaps that you push into the LATCH system then you use its one-hand Center Pull Latch tightening system to easily tighten.

Graco Snugride 35: The LATCH installation on a Graco is my least favorite. It has big snaps that can be difficult to get on (and especially off) your vehicle’s LATCH system. There is not an easy way to tighten it either. You still have to pull a strap and sometimes it is hard to pull it tighter even though the base is not installed tight enough. Graco has made the angle installation easier, however, by having a dial that you twist the raise or lower the front of the base.

 

Style/Colors

Graco Snugride 35: I think Graco wins the style race with the many, many patterns and fun color options they offer. It is easy to find something that is gender neutral, girlish or boyish in just about any color combination you would want.

Chicco KeyFit 30: There are plenty or colors to choose from with a Chicco, however there are not a variety of patterns/styles.

Baby Trend Inertia: The Intertia only comes in one color/pattern option. It is both gender neutral and fun, but you do not have any options beyond the “Horizon” color.

 

Price

Graco Snugride 35: $119.99-$179.99, available at many retailers

Chicco KeyFit 30: $179.99-$199.99, available at many retailers

Baby Trend Inertia: $179.99, available at Babies ‘R Us

 

Weight (with base)/Base Size

Graco Snugride 35: 17.6 lbs, wide base but not too long.

Chicco KeyFit 30: 21.1 lbs, narrow base good for compact cars

Baby Trend Inertia: 26.7 lbs, long base that will fit tight in compact cars.

 

Max Child Weight

Graco Snugride 35: 35 lbs

Baby Trend Inertia: 32 lbs

Chicco KeyFit 30: 30 lbs

 

Visor and Additional Features

Baby Trend Inertia: The visor of the Baby Trend is the best on the market! It is huge and offers tons of sun shade. BabyTrend took it a step further and mush mesh “windows” on the visor so baby can still look out and air flows. The handle on the Baby Trend is the nice triangle type, offering more comfort and positions to carry. The most impressive unique, special feature of this car seat is the controlled motion base, which is unlike anything else on the market. It responds to crash forces by rotating more upright resulting in better force distribution. There are 4 more recline positions that provide ultimate comfort and easier breathing for baby. There is an 8 position adjustable head support. You never have to rethread the harness of the Baby Trend. There is a dial on the back that allows you to adjust for the proper height. There is also a “cold weather boot” that is included with the car seat, that goes over baby’s legs for warmth.

Graco Snugride 35: The visor of the Graco is nice and big and it can move completely from front to back. It offers adequate sun shade. The seat is known for being plush and comfortable. The newborn insert provides very comfortable, padded head and body support.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The visor of the Chicco is very small and serves very little purpose. The newborn insert provides head and body support and proper fit with the harness.

 

Cons

Baby Trend Inertia: The BabyTrend has a plastic puzzle buckle that, although it doesn’t get hot, it can be hard to hold/snap both pieces in (especially if you don’t loosen the straps). The entire system is too large for smaller vehicles.

Graco Snugride 35: More difficult to install/tighten. Adjusting harness height requires rethreading. Upright angle causes newborn and sleeping baby’s head to fall forward. Buttons to raise/lower the handle are loud and will wake a sleeping baby.

Chicco KeyFit 30: The visor is inadequate. Adjusting harness height requires rethreading. Upright angle causes newborn and sleeping baby’s head to fall forward.

 

baby trend inertia

Baby Trend Inertia Installed in Mini Van

So, you may want to know which car seat is my favorite? I have to say the Baby Trend Inertia works really well for me. My four most favorite things about it are the recline positions, the adjustable head support, the rigid LATCH install and the visor. I love that when my baby is in it, asleep or awake her head never falls forward. I feel like my baby’s head is safer in a side impact collision with the head support (I have not tested this feature, this is not based on any proof) and I love anything that is easy to adjust with growth. I am obsessed with the ease of installation with the LATCH system. It is beyond easy to install and you don’t have to worry about it being too loose. A visor might seem like a silly thing to like, but I can’t help it. This visor is amazing and it is one thing that people comment on when I am out and about with the car seat.

 

Obviously this car seat is not perfect. The base is pretty big and you have to put the handle all the down when he car seat is on the base, which is impossible to do in smaller cars. I have had to put the handle down outside of the car before I snap it into the base in those situations. Even after that you have to make sure the seat does not touch the seat in front so the controlled motion base can work properly. In our mini van there is plenty of room and no issues whatsoever, though.  I am not in love with the puzzle buckle, either. It is pretty much impossible to do with one hand and difficult if the straps were not loosened first. My final complaint is that the buttons to adjust the handle are a little loose, so if the handle is not all the way down when it’s in the car, they jiggle around and make noise. The buttons are quiet, though and do not make noise when they are squeezed (they have never woken my baby like my Graco has).

 

The Inertia is definitely loaded with all kinds of cool special features. I think Baby Trend put a lot of research and thought into making a safe and comfortable car seat. While it is not going to be the ideal car seat for everyone, it has won my vote!

To Swaddle? How Long?

To Swaddle? How Long?Should You Swaddle Baby or Not and For How Long?

Most parents wonder how long they should swaddle their baby, if at all. The question of whether or not to do it at all is an obvious yes! Swaddling has been around since babies have been (FOREVER) and for good reason. Some people look at swaddling through their adult eyes, not the baby’s, calling it a “straight jacket” and assuming it is too binding and uncomfortable, an unnecessary restriction of movement. The truth, however, is that babies love to be swaddled and it is best to swaddle from the day they are born until they tell you they are done with it. (For videos on how to swaddle, click here.)

Safety First

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a study in May 2005 suggesting that swaddling may reduce the chances of SIDS and that babies who are swaddled have fewer night wakings and fall back to sleep more quickly. They also suggested that swaddled babies are more responsive to outside stimuli (which means they may wake up more easily if something is wrong).

Womb To World Is a Shock

When babies are first born they are in total shock. All the comforts of a tight, dark, warm womb with the constant loud swish of mom’s heartbeat have been replaced with bright light, new sights and sounds and no more security of being snug all the time. While most of the elements of the womb are hard to replace for your baby, a tight swaddle is an easy way to give them the cozy, cradled, secure feel they miss.

The Startle Reflex

Newborns are born with the Startle Reflex, also called Moro Reflex. The Startle/Moro Reflex is when a baby will startle and spread out her arms and legs (actually a fear of falling) and possibly cry. While this reflex demonstrates proper motor development in babies up to five months, it can cause sleep disturbances or problems falling asleep.  When babies are tightly swaddled, the Startle Reflex is contained and does not interfere with sleep.

Involuntary Movement

Babies under the age of three months have no control over their arms or legs and when tired, their arms and legs wave and jerk. Babies don’t realize that their limbs are attached to their body, so when flailing arms hit them in the face, they think they are part of the environment, an outside stimulus that is disturbing them. By swaddling, you contain their involuntary movements and remove stimulation that keeps them awake.

Swaddling Is a Great Step In the Bedtime Routine

Starting from the day they are born, you can use swaddling as part of your wind-down/bedtime routine, both for naps and night. Being put in a swaddle is a consistent and recognizable sign for baby to know that sleep is coming. Many babies are ready to calm down and fall asleep as soon as they are snugged up in a swaddle.

How Long to Swaddle

The question of how long to swaddle baby is not as black and white and whether or not to swaddle at all. Almost every resource you look at will tell you a different time as well. Some will tell you as little as one month is long enough and others may suggest swaddling for up to seven or eight months. The important thing to look for are real signs from your baby that she is ready to stop being swaddled. These signs might not be as easy to recognize, either.

Getting Out of  Swaddle Doesn’t Mean She’s Ready to be Done With It

As a baby gets older he is going to get more mobile and be able to move around. And this movement will cause the swaddle to come undone. This is not an indication that your baby does not need to be swaddled anymore, though. Some babies will wake as a result of becoming unswaddled and can only fall back to sleep (and stay asleep) when reswaddled. Another cause of the swaddle coming undone is that babies get bigger and it is harder to make small blankets stay tight around a larger baby. The swaddle wraps with velcro are a fabulous way to keep a swaddle in place on babies as they get bigger.

Experiment

Around three months is a great age to experiment and try unswaddling your baby. This is the average age for babies to find their fingers, which can be very helpful for being able to self-soothe. Some babies, however, might not find their fingers until 5 months, or even later. Leave one of your baby’s arms out of the swaddle (so you can still incorporate it into your wind-down routine for now) and see how he does. Give it a few days, as the first sleep like this will likely be disturbed. If your baby does ok with it after a few days, is able to fall asleep and stay asleep, he is probably ready to get rid of the swaddle. If he is having a hard time falling asleep and wakes often, it is an indication that the swaddle is still needed. Go back to it and experiment again in another month or two. Don’t feel bad about sticking with a swaddle for a while, regardless of what others tell you. I got rid of the swaddle at six months and I hear a lot of success with using it until five months old. Do what your baby needs and feel good about that!

Recommended Reading

To read more about swaddling, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems