I have the worst headache. It might be from my allergies acting up, but more likely, it’s from the fact that Delilah is FINALLY big enough for a convertible car seat and the things you are forced to care about as a parent when selecting a car seat for your precious cargo are enough to make your brain want to take a vacation.
Things beyond just simple safety and durability. Things like…the weight limit to expiration date tangential. No, seriously.
See, because if you go with the king of all car seats, the Britax Boulevard, you’re investing in a car seat that will hold your kid up to 70 lbs. Only, as illustrated above, the joke is on you, because the average kid won’t see 70 lbs until they’re 10 years old.
Ahhh, but there’s a catch. Aside from the fact that in the great state of California where I reside children are only required to be in a car sear until the age of eight, the Boulevard will expire in just six years. If your kid isn’t freakishly small like mine and you bought your convertible car seat at age 1 or so, then you may well find yourself having to purchase that same kid a SECOND car seat. ?!?!. Oh, and if you were dreaming you’d squeeze the “booster” end of baby #2’s car seat years out of that investment, well boy oh boy do you have egg on your face.
It all began when my parents and I, in attempting to clean up the pristine Britax Marathon that belonged to my niece, cracked the previously perfect styrofoam, and my Mom called Britax in an attempt to replace the damaged piece.
“Oh, no!!!” the Britax Help-Line operator gasped – “That car seat is expired!”
Well, cue the Grandma hazard alarms. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard about car seat expiration dates, and it wasn’t that I am a bad Mom who didn’t care about her child’s safety. It was just that, I figured that a car seat my niece had been sitting in three weeks earlier was going to be kosher for Delilah, too. And then suddenly, I was not so sure.
I needed to know what the EF was up with this car seat expiration date business, STAT. So obviously, I asked Twitter. I hoped they would confirm my suspicions that it was an evil marketing ploy by the evil car seat making companies (because, obviously anyone who devotes their time to protecting children is straight EVIL, right?)
[I made a Storify story for you to help me break it down. It might take a second to load.]
So I called the California Highway Patrol. And after trying like ten different locations to find a Public Information Officer who was available to speak with me, I finally got to ask my question. “Do I have to buy a new car seat since this one is six years old?”
She literally laughed. She basically said the same thing about car seats not being like produce that the guy from Evenflo said, but she was laughing, and saying it in an “I would not throw it away, but I can’t legally tell you not to do it” way.
Which honestly, has left me kind of confused. The expert opinions point more to “use it” than the Mom ones, but I’m still leaning towards “let’s just get a new car seat and be down with it before the girl actually DOES outgrow this thing.”
And then there’s the issue of the vast price difference between car seats when there is a basic PASS/FAIL issued on child restraints from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and no additional information made available to consumers unless the individual manufacturers choose to release it themselves (which it appears, only Recaro does: in the box with the seat — other manufacturers simply seem to site: “meets or exceeds requirements”).
I don’t know about you, but here’s me:
Somebody, please…just tell me unequivocally which car seat is the safest so I can slap my kiddo in it and cart her around in peace.
[for your reference, here's a link to the American Academy of Pediatrics official recommendation: AAP]