2/14/14 - Conversion Car Seat upgrade

Update: Sam's Club currently has the Alpha Elite Convertible for a lower price than Amazon as low as $80 depending on your color options.  Here are your options.

While shopping for car seats for Makenna recently, we also realized that Kinsley was pretty close to outgrowing her own car seat.  We estimated that we have about 6 months before we have to purchase a new one, but now was as good a time as any to start the research.

We considered getting a second harnessed booster, but recognized that as both of them grew, Makenna would be out of her current seat about the time Kinsley outgrew a conversion seat that supported up to 52".

This opened up the possibility of getting a conversion seat for Kinsley which offers much more cushioning as well as recline capabilities.  As much as Kinsley sleeps in the car still, we didn't want to take that ability away.  Although the Britax Pioneer seems to provide adequate neck support and prevent head slump, being almost fully reclined seemed to be the most comfortable route.

The model we have decided on is the Safety 1st Alpha Elite Convertible Car Seat.  We allowed Kinsley to sit in all of the available options at Babies 'R' Us, and this one was easily her favorite.  The Amazon price is currently the lowest available, even with the trade in program.

There were other options at Babies 'R' Us that were cheaper, but we felt for the money, the additional padding was easily worth it.  The Alpha Elite also has an adjustable harness that extends much higher than the other cheaper options.


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- Harnessed Booster Seat Information

Makenna (our oldest) recently outgrew her car seat (actually, it was about a year ago and we didn't realize it until recently).  So we've been in the market for a new car seat.  Here is our research, thought process and additional information you might could use when you do the same.

At nearly six years old, Makenna is 44" tall and right at about 33 pounds.  She is tall and skinny.  For this reason, as well as the fact that harnessing is simply safer, we wanted her in a harness for as long as possible.  Sidenote, if five point harnesses are safest for a race care driver, it seems like it would be the safest for everyone, but that's just my thinking.  All resources we could find recommended being in some sort of child restraint up to 4'9" or 57".  For this reason, we took total height support into consideration, and used it as one of our top metrics.

We ultimately purchased the Britax Pioneer from Babies 'R' Us in a red color, but here is the link to amazon for the Britax Pioneer 70 Harness-2-Booster Car Seat.  Here is the link to Babies R Us, for the same model in the red color.

Piece of advice, the $190 price tag negates the current 25% trade in coupon that Babies 'R' Us is currently running, so you have to request that you pay full price of $199 to get that 25% off, making it about $163 with taxes.  You can try to get the 25% off of the "Red Hot Deal", but don't count on it. Amazon's every day price on the other hand is $163 with free shipping.

Why did we get this particular car seat? Because of the additional height in harness restraint and comfort.  You can see on Britax's website this seat supports harnessing up to 54", where as most other models, such as the Graco Nautilus and Graco Argos (which are currently not being carried by Amazon) only go up to 52".  For this reason, the Pioneer provides an additional 2", or almost a year's worth of growth.  At that point, it then converts to a belt positioning booster seat, for another 5" of height, or about 2 years of growth.  This should be the last car seat we buy for Makenna, and then will be able to move it over to Kinsley.  It has an expiration of 9 years which means it will last plenty long enough.  It also has some recline capabilities, and when trying them out, Makenna said that this was easily the most comfortable to sit in, having the most butt cushioning of them all.

Why did we not get the Nautilus/Argos?  Because of the seat back position and bottom belt location.  We had Makenna sit in all of the options, and felt sorry for any child sitting in the Nautilus/Argos, it seemed like it sat straight up and even bowed her back a bit.  Not something I would ever want to sit in, much less any car trip of more than about 5 minutes.  As for the bottom belt positioning, it simply was horrible design.  Even as skinny as she is, she was sitting on that bottom buckle at it's most spacious setting.  There was no way any child larger than her could reasonably use this car seat.  I would provide some links, but as I mentioned, Amazon is not currently carrying these models, probably because of the recent recall.  This recall is not safety related, but a recall to replace the buckles that have the potential of locking, and not being able to open them back up.  From what we saw, it is still a very safe car seat.

We will be trying this out for about a week to make sure we do like it.  We read many reviews regarding the Pioneer that we purchased, as well as the Britax Frontier 90.  Most reviews that were critical of the Pioneer, said that splurging a bit on the Frontier was worth the money.  We didn't think so, but we will see after this week of trial.

Why not the Britax Frontier 90 Booster Car Seat, Onyx to begin with? Because of price. Even with the current trade in program at Babies 'R' Us, it was still about $235 (same cost online at Amazon as well).  The biggest features of the Frontier is the ClickTight Installation system.  If we were moving this car seat around a lot, this alone would be worth the extra cost.  As it is, we rarely move the car seats around, so this won't be much of an issue.  Reviews stated that the quality seemed a bit higher on the Frontier over the Pioneer, but we felt that the cost difference wouldn't merit these upgrades.  The other point towards this model though is the additional height.  It supports harnessing up to 58" and belt positioning up to 5'2" or 62".  Basically, Cristi would be able to use this car seat, and she's a grown woman.


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