42 answers

1St Time Mom-- Infant Car Seat/carrier or to Straight to Convertible Car Seat?

OK-- this one is for my SIL. I have my opinion but what do the rest of you think?

I'm still trying to decide about what car seat to get. I'm wondering if we'd be better off just getting a convertible car seat from the start-one that will accommodate an infant up to a year and then can be turned around to forward facing. I guess my main question is, how important do you think it is to have the infant carrier type seat? Aside from the chance of waking up the baby when you take him out, what are the advantages/disadvantages? I just wonder if the infant seat will be so heavy to carry with the baby in it that I won't like it. Also wondering if I'd rather try using one of those sling type things to carry the baby after getting him out of the seat. (or a stroller of course). It seems like the babies outgrow the infant seat so soon that I wonder if the convertible one would be ok from the start.

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Featured Answers

I would buy the infant car seat.The convertible car seats are way to big for a newborn babby in my opinion.I used the carriers for both of my sons and loved them.I did not use the sligs to carry my children.I was not comfortable wearing it.

You are right that many kids outgrow them fast but it's so much cleaner than the ones already on the shopping carts!! My kids outgrew them by 4 months and I had to put them in those awful ones on the shopping carts. Yes, I used a sling too but if you're doing a lot of grocery shopping it's hard to get the items and put them in the cart, etc while wearing a baby. I loved my baby carriers (sling, mei tai, onbuhimo) once they were older than 6 months though. And for a convertible carseat....get a Britax Marathon! They are well worth the money! I went through 4 carseats before finally realizing nothing is as good as a britax.

Definitely go with the infant carrier. You can just plop it right into the stroller or shopping cart if you don't want to carry it. The baby can be in it for a good 7 months and it really does make things so much easier!

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I would vote for the carrier, due to the covenience in poor weather.
It was very nice in the winter because i could dress the baby comfortably and put a carrier cover over the top of it for going to and from the house or the store, but once inside taking the cover off adjusted the temp enough that he wasn't too warm. I think it would have been difficult to struggle with a snowsuit and removing it all inside. Just my opinion, might depend on your weather, and time of year the baby was born etc.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it's worth it not only for convenience but also safety-wise to go with the infant carrier. We got an extra base so we didn't have to worry about having 2 car seats right away. My son was in the infant seat through his first birthday so some kids are the right size to use them for quite a while.

The nice thing about the carrier is that it snapped into the stroller, fit in restaurant booths and if he fell asleep in the car I didn't have to worry about waking him up trying to get him out of the seat.

personally I found the carrier type to be very hand. Can take into restaurants, snaps onto a stroller, etc. We had several bases in several cars between me, my husband and my parents (who watched him a great deal and that make things easier too. No switching around car seats in and out of different cars, etc. Just my opinion & what I did. They are heavy, but still better than juggling holding a baby and trying to carry stuff.....

I would suggest getting the infant carrier..smaller much safer for them and if you have two bases you can switch from your car and to husbands without moving the base..if you have a full car seat you don't want to take it out and install it everytime...Way to difficult and time consuming. With the cold weather or even heat the carrier is easier and more convenient...as many others have said it works easier for going to the store, bringing them in the house if asleep etc.

But mostly I would be concerned about the safety of installing a full car seat each time it's taken out..so many seats are already incorrectly installed that to do it over and over would be challenging.

Hi A.. We bought the convertible seat for our baby, but after 3 months of struggling to get him into his baby bjorn carrier in the cold and rain (and waking him!!!) we ended up buying the infant carrier. Luckily, the convertible seat goes up to 40 lbs (I think Britax makes and ever higher weight one now) so he's still in that seat at 3 years old.

The carrier is so nice to have if you need to go shopping anywhere with the baby because it locks onto most shopping carts. I just thought having the carrier was so much easier in the beginning, rather than this big monster car seat. It's easier to get the baby in and out of the car. Plus it's also a place for the baby to snooze a bit if you're out, since the bottoms of most carriers are a little rounded and you can rock it. The weight is not an issue and if you're worried about it, find one that's lighter weight.

Hi A.: I agree about using the carrier for everyone else's responses. I am done with mine, my son is nine months. If your SIL wants one she can have mine, I have two bases and the carrier. It is brown and black, it's neutral colors but is more "boyish." It is a Graco. If either of you or anyone else is interested let me know.

I guess I am the opposite from most people, but I hate the infant car seat! I am a small person and just could not carry them or even lift them easily. Plus, I didn't want my kids to stay in the seat so much! I found that taking them out of the seat was not a problem, they preferred to be in a carrier next to my body and fell right back asleep! I used a sling from kangarookorner.com most when moving them out of the car and it was EASY! I thought another opinion would help since it was different! It really depends on personal preference though.

You definitely should get an infant car seat first! I would have been lost without mine. Think about how many times you run "quick" errands. Would you want to put your child into it's seat, then take it out again, then put it in a sling, then get your milk and bread, then put the child back in the seat, then take them out again? It makes me exhausted just thinking about it! The infant seat doesn't last forever, that is true, but during the times when your child is unable to sit by him/herself in a cart you will be SO grateful that all you have to do is put them in the seat, take the seat out, and then put the seat back in the car. PLUS if you live in a cold weather area and will have a baby in a car seat during cold weather months you can get a Bundle Me and not even have to worry about a coat! Feel free to get a convertible car seat from the start, but you will be grateful for the ease of the infant carrier once you get it. (And while it is heavy, just think...you are lifting 20+ lb. weights every day!) Good luck!

If it comes down to affordability, go with the convertible car seat. But, do make sure that the lowest size setting is small enough for smaller newborn babies, cuz you never know what size they'll be. This includes the shoulder height down to the rump.

If it's affordable, I'd go with the infant carrier just for the ease of it all. It's not just about whether you wake up the baby, but just not having to crawl in the car to unbuckle the baby and carry the baby out and having the grab the diaper bag and anything else you may need to carry in the house. If you have to carry the baby, you'll have to run to find a safe place for baby to lay while you're getting settled in and unloading a car. If the baby is in a carrier then you can plop the baby down and do all you need to do before tending to the baby. The baby will be safe in the carrier while you do other things.

No matter what seat you get, do get the double head supports. One small and one large that will fit into each other This helps with newborns. Then as baby grows you can take out the smaller head support and use the larger one alone until that's no longer needed as well.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

chat and events within 2 hour radius.

I loved my Graco infant carrier- it was so easy and convenient to use. And for the winter you just attach a Bundle Me cover and the baby stays nice and toasty. I didn't use mine with the stroller we had because the stroller was so bulky but we inherited an AWESOME device called a stroller frame (from Graco) and you can just plop your infant carrier into it and go. It was so light I could take it out of my trunk, open it and collapse it using one hand!
Anyway- loved my carrier!!

My vote: definately the infant carrier. It's worth the extra expense, if your SIL can swing it. It could give her/the baby about 9 months of an easier life! I was so sad when my kids graduated out of the infant carrier! :) Getting a stroller that the carrier goes with is the best, so easy. When my kids were small enough to still fit in the infant carrier, I preferred my Graco infant carrier/stroller combo to my really nice, big Peg Perego stroller.

I have a friend who got a Britax Marathon convertable seat from the start for her little boy, and she got along just fine without the infant seat (used a Bjorn or stroller when she took him out, etc.). But her boy has always been in the 95th percentile for size, so even as a newborn he was alright in that seat. My little girl was born three weeks early and was small, so there's no way she would have coped with the convertable seat as a newborn (though we had a Marathon at the time). We used our infant seat for over a year before we put her in the convertable seat.

What worked for us, and might be an economical option, is to borrow an infant seat from someone you know well (and thus you know its history, whether it was in a car during an accident, etc.). That way you can test it out and see if it's worth having and you don't have to spend the $$ on two seats right away. We also really enjoyed our friends' infant carrier because when we traveled by air, we could take it onto the plane (in case there was an extra seat for her) and then use it in the stroller frame (best $ ever spent, the stroller that you just snap the infant seat into, got one used from Craigslist) at your destination. Great for if you get a rental car, too, because many places don't have smaller infant seats for the cars.

Good luck with your decision!

We bought the convertible seat for my daughter, because it seemed more cost effective. We love the car seat and we are now using it for our son. Having said that, I have a hand me down carrier that I used with my daughter many times (she was born in summer and there were many church/family things to do)...my husband works long hours and I took my daughter out mostly by myself...because of that I wanted a safe and clean place to set her down when I was tired from carrying her or to simply get a meal while she slept. My son is soon-to-be 3 months old (born in October) and I haven't taken him out as much, yet, but I did receive a sling for a baby gift and LOVE it! With trying to take my 3 yr. old daughter and son out, it has been very helpful to get groceries and take them shopping. My only question I would pose to you to think about it...do you want/need the convenience of a seat/carrier to keep them in while sitting and relaxing, such as at church or get-togethers, or do you need the minimal convenience to keep your baby close by your side while shopping or moving around alot? For me, for get-togethers and church, the car seat carrier was a must...for the shopping aspect, the sling has saved my sanity MANY times. I hope this helps.

You're right that the baby is not in the infant seat for very long, but it is so helpful to transfer the sleeping baby from the car to house and vice versa. Sometimes when our daughter wasn't sleeping well, the only way she'd sleep would be in the carrier. Not that she got addicted to sleeping in there, but it was REALLY useful when we needed it. I used a sling around the house and an ergobaby carrier when we were out, but I still really appreciated the carrier seat. It seems silly to get a carrier that will only be used a year or less. I think you should BORROW an infant carrier seat from someone you know hasn't been in an accident. If they need it back, you'll probably be done using it by that time anyway. It really is worth it for the first 6 months at least.

You are right that many kids outgrow them fast but it's so much cleaner than the ones already on the shopping carts!! My kids outgrew them by 4 months and I had to put them in those awful ones on the shopping carts. Yes, I used a sling too but if you're doing a lot of grocery shopping it's hard to get the items and put them in the cart, etc while wearing a baby. I loved my baby carriers (sling, mei tai, onbuhimo) once they were older than 6 months though. And for a convertible carseat....get a Britax Marathon! They are well worth the money! I went through 4 carseats before finally realizing nothing is as good as a britax.

I personally loved (& miss) the fact that I didnt have to take our son out of his car seat when we went into a store or out of the vehicle. He could sleep, was warm, happy & didnt have to encounter those germ filled grocery carts to soon in life!! I was lucky enough to make it past him being 1 yr (with his weight) to change to the regular seat. Traveling became a nightmare after that- even a 20 min trip to the store was awful! Not a happy traveler Aaaahh! Then along came the portable dvd player- Amen! ;) Anyway- I give the infant carrier 2 thumbs up!

I really liked using the infant carrier. My son is on the smaller side though, and he was in it for over a year. So, I know I got my money's worth out of it. When he was an infant, he would fall asleep in it a lot, and it was easier to transition him into the house. Also, we would use it when we were out visiting friends to rock him in, and he would fall asleep. It's handy, and he loved his. We had the Chicco (Keyfit carrier seat) Travel System. Now my son is in a regular seat, and I am still trying to figure out how to carry things and him at the same time. The infant seat was great for keeping the baby contained while I carried things into the house. I could just sling the handle through the crook of my arm and "Voila!" I do have some friends who are on the petite side or have had larger babies, and I know they could not carry the infant seat for as long as I did. So, good luck on your decision. Hope that helps!

I love my infant carrier, especially in the early days when I just wanted to get out and go somewhere. It never disrupted her sleep to take the seat out and snap it onto the stroller. I could go for walks and not worry about her head flopping around. I would not suggest leaving them in it to sleep. I read somewhere that it isn't good for their diaphram to be shoved into that position for hours at a time in the first couple months. Plus, I think it helps to have them sleep in their own bed(whatever that may be). It certainly does help with the quick errands, unless you don't mind devoting time the whole process of taking them out, in the sling, out again. When it is cold, or rainy, or snowy you will be glad to just grab the seat, throw a blanket over it and be on your way. I also don't like the idea of putting them into a cold or hot seat after it has been sitting in the car. When they get heavier you can take them out of it instead of lugging it around. She is nine months old now and still hasn't outgrown it! Whatever decision your SIL makes, I am sure it will be the right one for her and her family!

Hi A.,
My son is 5 now, but I found the infant carrier to be a time-saver when he was a baby, especially when running errands. My son grew very quickly and had to moved from the infant carrier at 4 months due to his weight. I was very sad, because he was too small to sit in a cart and way too heavy to carry around. I found it easier and less time-consuming using the carrier. I didn't have to worry about strapping him in each time and the convenience of snapping the carrier onto the carts at the grocery store was priceless. I found that my arm muscles got really strong from carrying it and the weight of the carrier was not an issue.

We're first time parents here too. DD is now 15 months old, 16 months in about another week - I don't know where the time goes.

I did a lot of research and was absolutely convinced that I wanted a Britax Boulevard for my daughter. It is rated for 5-33 lbs rear facing and 20-65 lbs forward facing. This will likely be the only seat my daughter is in before moving to a booster seat.

I was swayed by the true side impact protection, the depth of the seat comparted to other seats, the plushness of the seat and the unanimously high reviews given by all my friends who own Britax seats. After using the seat, and being in 2 minor accidents along with a more severe one that necessitated replacing the seat, I can honestly say I have not once regretted our decision. DD slept through two of the accidents (being rear-ended and being hit by a flying wheel).

What has become most important to me is that the harness adjusts with the turn of a knob so it is easy to adjust without uninstalling the seat and it always is fitted perfectly to her - not whichever slot is closest to right.

I worried that I would be inconvienced by not being able to pop her in and out with the carrier for shopping and dinners out, but I planned to babywear and wore her everywhere. In the instances where I needed to put her down, we received a recling infant feeding chair (sold at target for $30) which we kept in the car and use still. She sleeps while being put into the car and while coming out, it's all she's ever known.

She will be rear facing until she reaches the weight limit for the seat. At just shy of 16 months, she's about 21 lbs and 30 inches. She has plenty of room to grow in this seat.

Even when she was smaller, I was perfectly comfortable with the way she fit into the seat. She was snug and secure. As tiny as the risk may be, going straight to a convertible seat eliminated the chance of the bucket seat detaching from the base in the event of a collision. It's an extremely rare thing, but it does happen.

At $300 this is not an inexpensive seat but when I factored in the cost of buying an infant seat and then a convertible, it evens out.

Good luck with your decision.


I think the infant seat is great. My DD is 4 months old, and though she is small, I am still able to carry her around w/o difficulty (but it's certainly getting heavier!) It's so much easier to just pop the whole seat in and out of the car. I do not need to fight with snowsuits and jackets b/c there is a "Bundle Me" that attaches to the carrier and acts as a super warm blanket for the cold days. She does sleep in the car, and I can just bring her in and let her finish her nap when we arrive home. She will also sleep in the carrier when we are out and about. I find I do not actually carry the carrier all that much except for in and out of the house b/c I will just put it right into a shopping cart or right into the stroller I keep in my car, so I'm not lugging her around in my arms that much. I can't imagine having to strap a newborn into a fixed car seat, especially in the winter if you then have to take the time (and effort) to put on a coat, etc.)

My answer depends on whether she knows the gender of the baby or has any idea (other children perhaps) of how big the child might be. I used one with my petite little flower of a daughter & I absolutely loved it & couldn't have lived without it. Because my daughter was so little, I was able to use the carrier until she was 14 months old (and I only stopped then because they recommend them to 12 months, not because she had outgrown it). I was so excited with my son to get another & begin using it. By 3 months, it was REALLY becoming a struggle to lug him around in it. By 4 months, I wanted to cry knowing he would soon be out of it. By 6 months, his legs were over the edge & it was very difficult to carry around (especially with anything else). All this being said, my advice is if she knows with a great deal of certainty that the baby is on the smaller side, go for it. If not, use the money from the carrier & get a Britax Marathon car seat & use it rear facing from the beginning. Good luck & God Bless the new baby!

The infant carrier is conveinent but if its an issue of cost, you can do just fine with only a convertible seat. If you do just the convertible I recommend getting a baby carrier for shopping. Especially the supermarket. My favorite is the Moby wrap.
I had an infant seat - the graco safe seat which goes up to (I think) 30lbs - but I stopped using it at 6 months b/c it plus my son was too heavy. My son was over 9 lbs at birth & around 20lbs at 6 months. He still fit in the seat nicely I just wasn;t strong enough & he never slept when we got into stores anyway, so I started taking him out of the seat.

I used both. 1st I used the infant carrier, but it gets very heavy. It weighs heavy without an infant in it then add the weight of an infant it gets heavy. I used it for the convience of it. Not having to wake the baby when I was going from place to place. I had a friend who just used the regular car seat and had no complaints. I guess it is just your prefence. But it doens't take long for the carrier to get heavy and that can take a toll on your body.
Good luck. V.

Well, if she gets something like a Chicco Key Fit, it will hold a baby (even a very small newborn!) from birth to 30 lbs and 30 inches! Most babies will last at least a year in this seat! It's WELL worth the money & is really the best fit, and therefor, the safest option for a baby.

Turning a baby around at 1 yr AND 20 lbs is the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM. The longer a child stays rear-facing, the better! Here are some reasons why:


If she does decide to get a convertable, she really needs to look for one that has good reviews for holding a newborn. I believe that the Trufit has a good reputation & that's a well-made seat. The Britax Marathon is a fabulous seat for a child who is a few months old to many years old (my 5.5 year old rides in one!) but isn't that great for a newborn.

Anyway! I hope that that helps your SIL some! I wish her the very best of luck w/ everything!!!

I used an infant seat because it came with the stroller. My daughter was 8lbs14oz and we kept her in it until she was a year old it did get heavy at times but with the stroller is wasn't too much of a problem. I think a convertible one is good because we have gone thru 3 carseats since she was born(she is now 5).

I chose to use the infant carrier/stroller combo ( Graco metrolite stroller and carrier) and I found it to be very convenient for when I needed to use the stroller and could just attach the carrier instead of taking my son out of the car seat and into stroller -worked well, because he also fell asleep alot when I was out which made for an easy transition to car. I also used the carrier attached to the stroller for walks. Finally, with having 2 cars, I liked just having to get another base instead of 2 car seats. Although he was only in it for a year, I found it to be a good investment. Hope this helps

Definitely go with the infant carrier. You can just plop it right into the stroller or shopping cart if you don't want to carry it. The baby can be in it for a good 7 months and it really does make things so much easier!

I found the infant car seat the best, especially if you have a baby in cold months. On of mine was in until 1 year and the other 10 months. They do get heavy but if you have the stroller its not bad. Also you can find the bases and strollers used on craig's list and many second hand sales if your worried about cost. I even used ours the first 3 months for a baby for my second for he would not sleep in the crib.

Hi A.,

I am with the crowd...Infant carrier hands down wins this debate :) I just had to give it up for my almost 8 month old and I am definitely mourning the loss!

my ped said that if you can afford to get an infant then a convertable that would be best.an infant feels more secure and is safer in an infant seat supposedly

I would highly recommend the infant car seat/carrier. If you think it's too heavy (it does start to seem too heavy when the baby starts putting on weight) you can snap it into either a frame or a stroller. You can get the ones that are good up to 30 lb so that hopefully the baby can use it for the whole first year. The down side is that you will have to buy a forward facing car seat later on. I never did this, but apparently you can buy car seats that convert later on into booster seats so maybe you would only buy one more seat? Good luck to your SIL!

To be honest I don't know how people survive without an infant carrier. We used ours until our daughter was 6 months old. It's just much easier. When I would go to the grocery stor I just put it on the cart, when I had doctors appointments she could sit in the room in her seat. Until she was able to sit up on her own I used while shopping and such. We also used it when we would go to family events and such when she would need to take a nap. It did get heavy towards the end, but I think it was worth even the little time we used it.

I definitely preferred having the infant carrier. It was so much easier. Especially since we had the one that attaches right to the stroller. It was so much easier. And if we wanted to go out to eat, it's easier to have the carrier than to have to hold the baby and eat. Everyone at much church uses a carrier, too. That makes dropping their babies off in the nursery on Sunday morning so much easier and when they're really little they usually sleep most of the service so they just stay in their carriers. Much more convenient.

I am a huge fan of the infant car seat. Sure, they will outgrow them (rate depends on the size of your baby and the seat you choose, some are roomier, some not so much) and they will get heavy - just think of the arm muscles you will be building! But really, you aren't carrying them far - through a parking lot - into a store. I just think it's so much easier when they are small in bad weather, when they are sleeping - when you want to just plop the carrier in the grocery cart/Target cart/restaurant booth. Or for times when you have a few 1 stop places - the bank - the post office, etc. Plus, I know alot of babies at first sleep in their carriers due to things like reflux or just b/c it's tighter and they are more cozy that way. It really is a personal choice but maybe you could borrow a relatives or friends and see how you feel if you are on the fence? They sell the Snap & Go frames for them to pop into and then you could purchase/register for a separate stroller down the line for when the baby outgrows the seat, and be able to choose what you really would like as opposed to a travel system. That's what I am doing this time around #3. Good luck!

I agree with everyone else in that I think the infant carrier is worth it for all the reasons already noted. Additionally, baby lays down a bit more in the infant carrier than in convertible car seats (even though the convertibles can be adjusted). This is especially important when baby is still very young and doesn't have full control of his/her head yet.

The infant carrier was worth it's weight in gold. There were LOTS of occasions we were grateful we could carry our sleeping son into the house/store/restaurant without waking him. We have 2 boys (now 5 and 7) and used the carrier for both of them I think they fit in it until they were 9 or 10 months old. It was rear facing for the first several months, then could be reversed to face forward when they were old enough. I think it was a greco. Good luck!

I think it depends on your budget! The convenience of the infant car seat can't be beat, but it can be very heavy and you also have to consider the fact that you will be purchasing more car seats to use the carrier first.

infant car seat a must. used in restaurants, shopping at home, feed them in it

I chose the infant car seat carrier. I found it to be the best. Most infants do grow out of there seats by 9 months old, but infant car seats seem to fit better with the base then getting a convertible that you have to adjust so much just to fit the way your seats are shaped. It is a pain in the butt to take the bigger seats in and out with the baby still in it...two hands are needed to carry those where as in the infant seat requires one arm to carry.

I would buy the infant car seat.The convertible car seats are way to big for a newborn babby in my opinion.I used the carriers for both of my sons and loved them.I did not use the sligs to carry my children.I was not comfortable wearing it.

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