Car Seat Recommendations

Updated on April 30, 2012
V.V. asks from Fort Worth, TX
38 answers

My little guy has just about outgrown his infant car seat so we are about to buy a convertable seat. He's nine months old and weighs almost 22 pounds. He's got a few more months of facing the back but then we'll want to change to front facing at one year old. Does anyone have any recommendations on a great convertable car seat? Thanks!

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L.B.

answers from Dallas on

Britax are the best. Go to Lone Star Baby and Kids - stores at Frisco, Dallas and NRH. They are the most knowledgable in the area.

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K.K.

answers from Dallas on

We just bought the Graco Nautilus...it is new and is for children 20-100 pounds. The carseat is rated for a harness to be used up to 65 lbs which is not like most that are rated for up to 40 lbs. You can buy it a Walmart for about 150.

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A.P.

answers from Dallas on

hi!

We have a Britax (Marathon I think) and LOVE IT! Worth every penny when you look at how many car seats you go through in every phase of childhood. :) Not to mention, it Britax has stellar safety ratings.

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D.S.

answers from Dallas on

Jamie was right on the money with all of her links, you do NOT want to turn your little guy around at a year old, it is a HUGE step down in safety.
The only reason that the law is one year and 20lbs as a minimum to turn your child forward facing is because 10 years ago car seats were only made to go to 20 or 22lbs rear facing, now most car seats go to 30, 33 and 35lbs. Car seat manufacturers, car seat technicians (which I am) and the AAP recommend keeping your child rear facing to the limits of your car seat.

This is my favorite video as to why rear facing is so much better than forward facing, it is clear and to the point - http://youtube.com/watch?v=psmUWg7QrC8

As far as car seats go, please stay away from the Alpha Omega/Eddie Bauer/3-in-1 car seats, they are a pain in the butt to install, not worth the $$ and most kids grow out of them really early.

If you can afford it, I would go with a Britax Marathon, it rear faces to 33 or 35lbs (depending on the date of manufacture of the seat) and then forward faces to 65lbs, which means your son will get to use it for the next few years. It is a great seat that installs easily in most cars, and you will definitely get good use out of it, probably 3 years, if not longer.
The Evenflo Triumph Advance is also a great seat, it rear faces to 35lbs and then forward faces to 50lbs. It's not *as* easy to install as the Britax, but is still pretty user friendly.

I highly recommend having your seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (car seat tech) as 4 out of 5 carseats are installed and used incorrectly in the DFW metroplex.

If you (or anyone else that might be reading this) have any questions about car seat related, please feel free to email me ANY time, [email protected]____.com

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K.C.

answers from Dallas on

I have this advice, stay away from any Cosco, Eddie Bauer, Safety First car seat made by Jorel (sp?). They have a history of recalls and are notorious for waiting before they recall rather than act proactively. I've never trusted a company who only recalls after kids get seriously injured.

I have bought Britax seats for my kids and have never regretted it. They may have new models, the last convertible seat I bought was 3 years ago, but I've had all my kids in Marathon car seats. They are rear facing & are good up to 60 lbs forward facing. My 5 year old & 3 year old are still in their Marathons. They had a recall a few years ago. They constantly run tests on their seats & their own testing had showed that there may have been some seats with faulty straps. They sent everyone registered replacement straps & had their customer service available 24 x 7 to answer questions and provide help.

Baby Bargains, Baby 411 and a few other titles by Denise Fields is also a great resource. They have a website with up to date info too.

K.
Mom to 3, ages 6, 5 & 3

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J.H.

answers from Dallas on

http://boards.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?webtag=bcus...

The link above is to a discussion board about car seats/safety. There are some really, really awesome and knowledgable moms on there, and even some car seat safety technicians. The most recommended car seat that I've seen them talk about is the Britax brand...there are links on the board that discuss the different types of Britax car seat (Boulevard, Marathon, Roundabout, etc). Most are also very adament that it is best to keep baby rear facing as long as possible. It's much safer in the event of an accident - the 20 pounds and 1 year are a minimum for rear-facing your baby. There are links with videos on there that explain why it's best to rear face past those minimum requirements.
Good luck!

Edited to Add: Here is a copy of the things about rear facing if anyone wants to read or watch the video!!

The importance of rear-facing

Why You Should Consider Rear-Facing Your Child Past the Minimum of 1 Year and 20 Pounds

Our favorite link:

“Rear-facing – Unmatched Safety” A fairly comprehensive article from CPSafety.com

http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/stayrearfacing.aspx

MSN Article “Child Car Seat Advice Questioned”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9916868/

You Tube Video “Benefits of Keeping Baby Rear-facing”

http://youtube.com/watch?v=kRP7ynNI8mI

“Why Rear-Facing is Safest” A fairly comprehensive article from Car-Safety.org

http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html

Rear Facing Seats – Yet another fairly comprehensive article for thecarseatlady.com

http://www.thecarseatlady.com/car_seats/rear-facing_seats...

Pictures of How a Child’s Spine Develops http://www.windsorpeak.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&a...

AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) Policy

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/ped...

Highlight of the policy - for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the maximum weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back

Why RF is Safest Even in Rear End Collisions

One Family’s Story of Being Rear-Ended While at a Stop by a Car Traveling at 60-65mph

http://myangelsaliandpeanut.tripod.com/id5.html

A childs' vertabrae do not fully fuse until 3-6 years old. Before then, he/she is at great risk for spinal injury. When rear-facing in a crash, the forces are spread out among the strong carseat shell and baby's strong back. The harness holds baby down in the seat and he/she is cradled and protected. When forward-facing, the harness holds babys' body back, and his/her head flies forward violenty, putting tremendous stress on the neck.

Here's the catch...the spinal column can stretch up to 2 inches, BUT the spinal cord can only stretch up to 1/4 of an inch before it snaps and baby is gone. This is referred to as internal decapitation. Babys' head will be slumped over like he/she is sleeping.

It's very important to keep babies rear-facing to 1 year AND 20 lbs. (both, not either/or) at the very least. It's actually much safer to rear-face to the limits of a convertible carseat, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. A forward-facing child is 4-5 times MORE likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash than a rear-facing child of the same age...not a risk I'll be taking with my babies.

Check out this video for some great information and crash test footage...you'll see the HUGE difference: http://youtube.com/watch?v=kRP7ynNI8mI

And this one has lots of pictures of older rear-facing kiddos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psmUWg7QrC8

And here’s another great link:

http://www.childrestraintsafety.com/rear-facing.html

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N.C.

answers from Dallas on

we went to cosco and found a great one for only $40. it turns into a booster seat so it'll last for a really long time.

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K.M.

answers from Dallas on

I just got done listening to a speaker from my MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group on carseat safety. The person speaking was a volunteer installer, after he witnessed a horrible accident involving a small child whose carseat was not installed correctly. He said that it REALLY doesn't matter which carseat you get as long as they are installed correctly. AND... he said to keep your child rear-facing as long as you possibly can. He even went as far as to say that if you can keep your 5-year old rear-facing, to do it. It's MUCH safer (obviously, that is an exaggeration).
We just purchased a Safety 1st carseat that fits children from 5 - 80 lbs. http://www.target.com/Safety-1st-All-One-Convertible/dp/B...
It has latches on it that make it easier to adjust when your child gets taller and you don't have to undo the straps. The carseat was about $150 at Target. Britax makes something similar that costs just about double that price.
Don't be too anxious to put your child forward facing. My twins are 13 months old and I still have them rear facing, and have been told to keep them that way for several more months.
Hope that helps.
Blessings,
K

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T.R.

answers from Dallas on

My four year old is still in his car seat. It takes alot of time to get past the 40 pounds now recommended for the booster seat. I wish I had spent the money the first time around because I had to rebuy carseats at about 3 1/2 because he was to tall (and I do not have tall children!) and not too heavy for the Graco we had.

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S.C.

answers from Dallas on

Here is the one we got. We love it. So does my son- which is the most important factor. You can see how many reviews it has and it has 4 1/2 stars! Everyone loves it that has it. Plus, it isn't as expensive as the Britax ones.

http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2734224

Hope this helps. We did TONS of research before buying this one. Very happy with it! Good luck!

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T.M.

answers from Dallas on

We've had some issues with our Evenflo carseat. I would avoid that brand. We bought a Graco one recently and LOVE it. :)

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A.P.

answers from Dallas on

We have the Evenflo Triumph Advance LX (it looks like the earlier model of the one Shanyn C mentioned in her post). The link to mine is http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3028986 We had this seat for my first son and now for my second son as well. This seat was rated the best in Consumer Reports over the Britax model (you might check more recent reports, too) and it's cheaper, AND we were actually in an accident where our car flipped up on its side and my son was in this seat without a scratch on him -- I looked back and he was just sitting there wide-eyed, but looking like we were right side up not even leaning over or anything in this seat. So we got him another one and my second son uses it, too. They both love it and so do I! Good luck!

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C.C.

answers from Dallas on

We have the Alpha Omega Delux for both of our vehicles for our son. We researched all and found it and the Britax models to be the best for the money. However, we were buying two and it was more cost effective for us to get the Alpha Omega than the Britax. There is a website you can get the Britax cheaper (than Babies R Us & Target) it also has free shipping. If you are interested, I can send it to you.

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C.B.

answers from Dallas on

My 17 month old is still too small to face forward. She's not made it to 20 pounds yet and we had to get a convertible car seat because her feet were starting to touch the back seat in her infant seat. We got a Britax Roundabout. It's on the pricy side, $219 at BabieRUs, but I love it! It's very easy to install AND it's great for cars that need a little less bulk. Still plenty of room for baby, but doesn't take up as much room making the person in the front seat eat their knees! By the way, it's a Texas law that babies have to be 20 lbs. AND a year before you switch them to forward facing.

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C.J.

answers from Dallas on

I agree with the last couple of post we have two children 2 and 1 both have the Britax Marathon. My husband loved them so much he even bought an extra for his truck. They are easy to install and are rated very high in safety. If you have a small car they are pretty large when rear facing so make sure you test for a fit before you buy.

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S.A.

answers from Dallas on

I used Britax Roundabout with my daughter after she outgrew the infant car seat at about 8 months old. It can go rear-facing or forward-facing. We kept her rear-facing until she was three years old as it is the absolute safest for the children. She never seemed bothered by the leg space or lack thereof, just sat sort of indian-style.

When she outgrew the Roundabout, we bought the Marathon. I have been super pleased with Britax car seats. At the time we bought the Roundabout, it was the top-rated convertible car seat on the market. Costly, but worth since she used it from 8 mths to three years. Now a friend is borrowing it, and when the time comes, our new baby will also use it. Cannot say enough good things about Britax!

S.

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P.G.

answers from Dallas on

Britax all the way for safety. great cvonvertble options. We chose the Boulevard over the others because you can adjust the headrest up and down without unlacing the straps, there is a knob that moves it up and down. This one is rear facing (upto 35 lbs) and forward facing (upto 65 lbs). Good luck in your research. Check out Baby Bargians (book and/or website) for some good reviews and posts as well.
Reviews - http://windsorpeak.com/reviews/items/
Message board - http://www.windsorpeak.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?s=9...

good luck!

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L.S.

answers from Dallas on

The Britax is absolutely the best and will last you longer than any other car seat. When my son out grew his infant carrier, we bought a Graco. It was just ok but it was good only until 40 lbs. Also, the construction was pretty shoddy. The styrofoam interior cracked and broke off all the time. We bought a Britax last year to replace it and wish we had gotten a Britax convertable instead of the Graco. The construction is just so much more solid. It's a lot more comfortable for my son and will last him until 80 lbs. Yes it's more expensive, but had we gotten it to begin with, we would have saved the $100 we spent on the Graco.

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H.F.

answers from Dallas on

My children are bigger & taller. We have many members of our family that are 6+ ft tall. I got the Britax Boulevard for two of my boys, because they are able to use the 5 pt. harness up to 65lb. Both boys hit 40 lb. long before the are old enough for booster seats. My youngest son has a Recaro convertible seat (Como), which has a harness that is safe up to 70lb. He has DS, and needs the extra time in the harness. He is almost 2 and 19lb. He is still rear facing, and will be for a good while. We are in no hurry to turn him around. My daughter has the Recaro booster seat. The seats are pricey, but I trust that they will keep the children safe. Recaro also builds safety equipment for race car drivers.

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J.E.

answers from Dallas on

We have the Britax Boulevard for our 2 1/2 year old. At the time, it was the only carseat on the market with Side Impact Protection. I didn't really want to spend that much money but when it comes to the safety of our daugther, money is no object. And she seems to love it.

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J.W.

answers from Dallas on

Just a quick testimonial. Our daughter faced rear with her legs crossed in front of her until she was nearly 3 years old (33 months old) and we were going to take a long car trip.

She knew no different, so it wasn't an issue. We're blessed to have a friend who is a trained installer and works in the ER of a pediatric hospital. She educated us.

We have the Cosco Alpha Omega Elites in both cars. They're large and pricey (though not nearly as much so as Britax), but we researched and feel good about it. We did have a problem with one seat after 2 years of usage. When we contacted the mfr, they sent us a new seat and the label to send them the old one to investigate. Excellent customer service.

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V.M.

answers from Lubbock on

I too, like so many on this posting, have TWO Britax Marathons and have been nothing but thrilled with them. I have a two year old, 30 pound daughter and she has never acted more comfy when driving than she did when we got these car seats (one for each vehicle). I love the fact that it is also a comvertible one that you could use on your 9 month old right now and just flip it around when he hits the 1 year mark. My husband did a lot of research about safety, crash test ratings and so on and this one was ranked very high in all ratings, as well as not priced as high for the great job it does. If you like STYLE too you can get these seats with a number of different designs, we have the tan gator print in one vehicle and the black and gray in the other to match our interior.

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T.G.

answers from Dallas on

I have the Marathon Britax for all 3 of my kids. I bought each about the same time 9 months. Awesome car seat! It is a little pricy but will go all the way until 65 lbs. I think $$ well spent.

J.L.

answers from Dallas on

The Alpha Omega is a great choice. I have been usung mine going on 5 years now. It works for 5lbs-100 lbs, no kidding. I think they are around $100-130.
J.

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T.

answers from Dallas on

my daughter loves her britax marathon. it's really comfortable and we were initially attracted to how safe it is. the only downside (besides cost) is that it is really big and bulky, which is fine if you have a larger car or suv, but might be an issue in a smaller car. the britax roundabout is a bit smaller but only accomodates children up to 40 lbs.
good luck!

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E.B.

answers from Dallas on

we have the alpha omega convertable its the eddie baur ed. but only because that is the color that we liked. they are reasonably priced. my daughter is nine months onld and if you feel he is to big for the rear facing go for it. i spoke with my pedi about it and she said "they say 20lbs or a year old what ever comes last, but i think the people that wrote that never rode in a car with an uncomfortable baby" if he is too big then i would switch him. talk to your doc about it, but that is what we did. good luck.

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G.W.

answers from Dallas on

As moms we want to provide the very best for our child. That said, children are also very expensive and we have enough on our plates to do, let alone choose a carseat. My suggestion would be to go with what carseat you like the best. They will all protect your baby in an accident - i don't think any carseat has been proven to be safer than any other. So, I would say, go for the price and features that appeal to you the most. Some features, like "recline" are useless - when are you going to physically pull the car over, get out of your seat, and push the button for your baby to recline??? A removable cover is nice to be able to wash. Well, that's my 2 cents.

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H.B.

answers from Dallas on

We got a Britax car seat, all of the reviews for this car seat were great, and it has good side impact protection. The car seat is pricy, but it is worth it. We got this car seat right before our son turned 1 year. Hope this helps.

H.

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D.A.

answers from Dallas on

I subscribe to ConsumerReports.org and am a big believer in their recommendations. Their most recent convertible car seat rankings show that they tested four: Britax Roundabout, Evenflo Triumph 5, Cosco Alpha Omega Elite 22-155 and Britax Marathon. CR did not give a "Quick Recommendation" for this type of car seat. Instead, it says all four did fine in their testing and for you to decide based on your needs.

After watching an expert install our infant car seat, I will never again install one myself and assume it is correct. I consider myself a smart person. I have a masters degree and work in 3D design. One would think I could install a car seat correctly. It turns out that the experts really do have techniques and tricks that will make your car seat much safer.

Our cars are both ranked high in safety. What I learned is that if the car seat isn't installed correctly for your particular car, it won't be safe for your baby, no matter how highly the seat or car is ranked. It turns out our car seat didn't fit in the center seat even though it looked like it should. Once the inspector explained why it made since, but we wouldn't have noticed it otherwise. We also learned that "seat savers" and other items sold for car seats can decrease safety (and will void your car seat's warranty). Thankfully, I was able to take the unsafe items back for store credit (no receipt). Who knows why they still sell that stuff!

The cops who installed our car seat used cut pieces of a "floating noodle" to create the correct angle for the seat to be level. They said that the noodle is accepted by the car seat manufacturers and will not void your warranty -- other items could.

I recommend you find a couple car seats that you like and then speak to a car seat installation expert about how well each will fit in your car. Then, have an expert install the seat (with you watching) once you buy it.

Some car seats fit better in a car using the LATCH system and others fit better using the seat belt. Based on the CR ratings, Britax Marathon has a "fair" rating for 'LATCH infant use fit to vehicle' while it has an "excellent" rating for both infant and toddler 'belt use fit to vehicle' as well as 'LATCH toddler use fit to vehicle'.

We have the same base for both our cars. One base is installed using the LATCH system and the other uses the safety belt. The car using the seat belt has LATCH, but the base fits better using the belt. In order for our seats to fit correctly, the expert had to use her knee and whole body's weight to shove the bases in place with the noodles underneath, while pulling on the straps to tighten. All of this while watching the leveler that came with the base. Please note, our car seat is ranked as one of the easiest to install. The installer said that it sometimes takes two people to install others they come across.

I know this sounds a bit overwhelming, but that's why I recommend letting an installation expert take the stress off your mind and back! They do it for free and it takes less than 30 minutes. You get a signed form from the installer stating that it was installed correctly, so you'll have something backing you up in case you're in a wreck or your car seat malfunctions somehow.

Lastly, while safety is the first priority... Check out how easy it is to remove and clean the car seat cover. Even if you never give your child food or drink in the car, accidents happen and you will HATE cleaning the seat out hunched over in the car -- or having to remove the whole seat to get the cover off and then deal with installing it again.

Hope this helps!

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L.H.

answers from Dallas on

We have a Maxi-Cosi car seat and love it. It's awesome. We've also had the Britax Roundabout and adored it too. The only reason that we didn't get it this time around is because I couldn't find a fabric that I liked. Also, the Maxi-Cosi is a little less pricey than the Britax. Both of them are very, very safe and highly rated. We were involved in a head-on collison when my older girls had Britax seats and I can't say enough about how great they were. Other than some very slight bruising from where the harness held them in, they were uninjured. A friend of mine is a car seat safety expert and gives both of those seats 2 thumbs up! HTH, Good luck! Oh yeah, www.elitecarseats.com is a good place to shop for either of those. Also, I agree with what a pp said about Cosco - they do have a history of a lot of recalls and only after a lot of kids are injured.

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H.T.

answers from Dallas on

Britax car seats are expensive, but worth it, in my opinion. They are consistently highly rated for safety and you can use them for long time, due to the weight recommendations. We have a Roundabout in my husband's smaller car, and a Marathon in my SUV. LOVE them!

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J.J.

answers from Dallas on

Everyone I know who has a Britax seats loves them. Several friends use the Marathon. I have the Boulevard. My son loves his so much I was able to keep him backward facing till he was close to 2 years old. Check out www.albeebaby.com for some great deals on them.

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C.L.

answers from Dallas on

I have a had Britax for 4 years and have been very pleased. They seem very comfortable and the saftey ratings are really good. The Marathon or Decathalon go up to 65lbs.

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A.J.

answers from Dallas on

Hi, the best for you to buy with your son at his age is the Britax Marathon. it goes to 65 pounds with a 5 point harness. (or you can get the Britax Regent that goes to 80 pounds as a 5 point harness,) I found my Britax Regent on Ebay brand new for 209 free shipping so look online for some great prices also on the marathon. Britax is the ONLY carseat I would use for my 3 boys. They are made to european standards that are much higher than the us standards for car seats.
I know this is gonna sound harsh and I dont mean it to but I would not want my child's safety riding on a car seat that costs $40.00. just like the car you buy, you get the safety features you pay for and that applies to car seats as well. they all meet the minimum standards but is that enough to keep a child safe? I would rather spend the extra cash and be assured that I bought the safest seat I could if anything ever should happen.
My 5 year old rides in the Britax Regent (5 point to 80 pounds) and my 3 and 2 year olds ride in the marathon.
Hope that helps,
A. J

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

I highly recommend the Britax Marathon. I have three children, ages 3,3, 22mths., and they all have one. All my children outgrew their infant carriers around 6 - 8 mths. This carseat is wonderful!! It's easy to install, covers are easy to remove for cleaning, you just can't go wrong. You can use these from 5lbs. to 65lbs. They are a little pricey, but price doesn't matter when it comes to protecting your little one's!!!

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A.H.

answers from Dallas on

I will never put my children in anything other than a Britax. We were in a car wreck last April where a truck ran the red light and plowed into our car spining us into a light pole. The truck hit on my 2 year olds side and the door was molded around her Britax carseat and she walked away with a few glass scraps. My 6 month old was in his infant carrier and the light pole struck on his side of the car and he suffered some brain injuries. I believe that my 2 year old's Britax helped save her life since it is reinforced with steel. She had the seat with the side impact protection. So now both of my kids are in their Britax seats with SIP and we love them!

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