Good Car Seat for Babysitter Without Spending a Fortune

Updated on January 20, 2010
B.S. asks from Sherwood, OR
11 answers

I am needing to purchase a car seat for our babysitter to use. We already have a convertible car seat for both of our cars, which is a small fortune in itself. Since the babysitter doesn't take our son very far or often, I can't justify another costly seat. Does anybody have suggestions for an inexpensive convertible car seat that is still comfortable and easy to use? You idea are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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answers from Portland on


I was once in the babysitter position you are talking about. I just told the mom or dad ahead of time when I was going to need the seat and they took it out of thier car and put it in mine. That way they did not have to buy another one.

Hope this helps!


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answers from Seattle on

We were in the same position, only it was my husband's car that we rarely use (we commute as a family daily). Also purchased a Cosco Scenera at Wal-Mart (which we usually avoid, so it was a semi-political debate in our house) for $45.

Before our firstborn was born, we took a car seat safety class at Swedish Hospital and it was super helpful... one of the "firm belief" values the instructor (certified car seat inspector) told us was that you are better off buying a new seat that is a model that's been available for a couple years as opposed to a "brand new model" or a used seat. That was why we chose to get the Scenera as opposed to buying a used Britax off CL (for double what the Scenera cost!). Just a perspective to think about ;o)

The Scenera works very similarly to the Britax, but isn't as deluxe. We tried an evenflo Triumph but the strap system was just way too cumbersome for us (since we were used to the Britax in my car).

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answers from Seattle on

I bought a wonderful Britax seat off of Craig's List.



answers from Chicago on

we had to get a convertible car seat for both our cars too, so i totally understand. i did some research and looked on the American Pediatrics website - they have a listing of car seats that meet the federal standards. i put the link below. the seats we got for our car were more expensive, but the one my mom got for her car was the Cosco Scenera. its less than $80, meets the standards, and was listed as one of the safest convertible seats on one of the consumer lists i was looking at. doesn't have all the "bells and whistles" but keeps them safe.



answers from Portland on

My friend takes my daughter (2yrs old) one weekend a month, and once a week I pick up another 2yr old boy for a playdate so I also needed a good inexpensive extra car seat (I have a britax marathon in our car). I got a Cosco Scenera and have been very happy with it. I got mine at Wal-Mart but they sell them at K-mart, Target and other places. I specifically wanted one with the plastic zippered case for transporting it so I got mine at Wal-Mart who has the cases. I believe k-mart only had them in a box. It was about $48, but I've seen them on sale occasionally as low as $35 if you watch the ads. I have had it for about a year and it's traveled on a plane gate check in addition to the above mentioned uses. It is still in good shape and is easy to install.



answers from Portland on

Check Bi-Mart, they often have one on sale for a decent price. We bought three at Bi-Mart for our two cars and two kids. They are the Omega car seat. Kids seem very comfortable, fairly well padded, took them on a 4000 mile round trip in our RV this fall and kids did fine, no complaints.

We also have the Omega Elite in one of our cars, but frankly, they aren't that much different. The Elite has a little better padding system. I wish I had known about Bi-Marts car seats first, we could have saved some money.



answers from Seattle on


We've been very happy with the Graco/Evenflo brand. They're usually around $50 and my kids have never complained about the seat hurting or not liking to ride in the car.



answers from Anchorage on

I would like to suggest a website with wonderful advise on car seats. It is and it is full of great info about properly using seat as well as which seats fit which child and car. I think the best option for a convertible seat that is inexpensive that I have seen recommended is the Cosco Scenera. You can purchase it at walmart for under $50 and it is very safe and highly rated! I think people often overlook the safety of car seats to save money, but it should be taken very seriously. Oh and the new recommendation is to keep children rear facing as long as possible and to the weight limit of the seat, at least 2 years old! So do your own research about this and do not turn your child around before the legal minimum of 12 months. Extended rear facing is so much safer for children then forward facing.



answers from Seattle on

Hi B...
I know I'm not responding to your question directly.. but without first reading the other responses my first thought was.. if you already have an 'extra' carseat to use this one as the back and forth seat. (or your husband if he is the main transportion person, yours would be the extra.)

so with out more details it almost sounds like one of you drop off and the other picks up and it seems more logical to have the babysitter have one. And it is not fun really to transfer the seats. but as the other gal said.. just put it on you/ or husbands 'to-do' list for the babysitter on that day :)

I did actually read all the posts.. and they have some great ideas.. here are some thoughts.

Wait to get the 'extra' seat until it is always forward facing.. * they are a bit less expensive * not so bulky.
&/or find a friend whose baby is just graduated out of their convertable & ask to borrow it for a few months.

by the time you might likely finish your research on this you would be ready for forward facing.. (~ 12 months,. unless your 10 mo. old is small)




answers from Seattle on

I was in a similar dilemma for my husbands car, plus we fly quite often, so I wanted a seat that I didn't feel bad about throwing out, if it got banged up on a trip.
I ended up buying a seat on clearance, because it was an older model that had just been renamed. Often you can also find less appealing fabric patterns and last year's models on sale. I would just check out some stores with kid's departments (Fred Meyer, Sears, Target...Babies R Us and even WalMart) and see if there is anything on clearance that they need to get rid of.



answers from Seattle on

I'd probably just move one of the other car seats when it was needed for the babysitter. Its a pain in the behind, but it also gets easier with practice.

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