Posted by: littlebitofparadise | July 2, 2012

How I Changed My Mind About Car Seats

How I Changed My Mind About Car Seats

One year ago today (July 2nd) my family and I were in a pretty bad car accident. It’s one of every parents’ worst nightmares: having another vehicle slam into yours when your baby is in the back seat. I cannot even begin to describe the “mommy adrenaline” that rushed through my entire body as soon as the other vehicle made impact with ours. Pete says our car hadn’t even come to a complete stop from fishtailing across the road when I was already half jumping into the back seat to see if Mark was okay.

I hated – HATED – listening to his cries of terror. All I wanted was to make sure he was okay and then offer him the comfort and soothing he needed to calm down.

Thankfully, everyone involved in the accident was okay: the other couple who hit us, Pete, myself, Mark, and our unborn baby. You can read the full story of the accident, which I was asked to write for Catholic Match Alumni Magazine and the Catholic Match Online Blog here.

(That’s a preggers me and a 12-month-old Mark sitting on the grass in the background.)

It takes a long time to “get over” a car accident. Every time I drive past the spot it happened, it all comes back to me. I’ve occasionally dreamed about it. But I think the biggest impact (no pun intended – honest!) the car accident had on me was my changed opinion about car seats.

When I was pregnant with Mark, my Hubs did tons of research on the safest baby car seats, and I love our infant seat – it’s heavy to carry around, but it’s super safe and study, and I love that peace of mind.

However, when Mark was approaching a year old and it came time to look for a bigger car seat for him, I made a judgment call that I deeply regret.

You see, I tend to live on the frugal side – I love feeling like I’m getting a good deal and making a thrifty purchase. I had heard from other parents of toddlers that the Cosco brand made a transition car seat that had safety ratings that went up again the best in the industry, beating out big names like Graco and making par with Britax. Target happened to carry this Cosco brand car seat, and every few months they put it on a super sale. When it’s on clearance you can buy a Cosco car seat at Target for about the same price as two movie tickets with a large popcorn.

So, right before Mark’s first birthday, Target had their amazing car seat sale and I convinced my husband to buy the uber-cheap Cosco seat.

I thought the Cosco was great for the first month we used it. Very spacious, and we couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I was happy with our thrify purchase up until about 4:00pm on July 2nd, when my baby was riding in said car seat when a scared driver threw the full weight of his panicked lead foot on the gas and slammed his minivan into my baby’s back seat door, completely crushing the door and sending our car spinning across lanes of traffic.

Mark was not injured in the accident. However, both Pete and I were not happy with the way the Cosco held up upon impact. Even though we had him strapped in properly and the seat strapped into the car properly, the seat whipped back and forth (sideways) and Mark’s little body whipped sideways a few times as well. When the tow truck driver, police officers, and Pete examined the seat after the accident, they couldn’t believe how much it had come loose from the seat during impact.

Needless to say, the Hubs and I went home and began researching the safest car seats for toddlers all over again. Money was no longer an object – we didn’t care how much it cost, as long as our little man was as safe as possible in the car.

We believe the very best seat you can buy for a child’s safety and comfort is the Britax Marathon 70 Convertible Car Seat. It’s NOT cheap. And it does not go on deep discount clearance at Target. In fact, I could buy about 4 if not 5 Cosco brand car seats for less than one Britax Marathon 70.

But the truth is, after experiencing a car accident as a parent, I would gladly buy 4 or 5 full-price Britax Marathon 70s if I needed to – the safety of my kids in the car is of utmost importance to me, and I know I will never ever ever regret making my boys as safe as possible.

Luke is already barreling towards his first birthday – I can hardly believe it! But here’s one thing you can definitely believe: Pete and I won’t be checking Target for car seat sales. We’ll be purchasing a second Britax Marathon 70 for Luke.

And I won’t regret one single penny of that expensive car seat.

After all, it’ll be carrying the world for me.







  1. Stephanie, how terrifying! I got chills just imagining how you must have felt when that other car slammed into yours. There’s nothing like the mother-fear adrenaline, is there?

    We’re big fans of Britax car seats too: safety is paramount for us, and I’ve also just been really happy with the quality. Removable, washable covers, and straps that don’t tangle? Sold! We have four in the back of our minivan, and yes, that represents about a grand in car seat investment, but our kids are priceless to us, so the money ends up feeling like not such a big deal, you know?

    As I’ve done safety research over the years I’ve gotten on board with a couple other things too: extended rear-facing, and extended use of five-point-harnesses. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping kids rear-facing until they’re at least two, and the research shows that it takes a long time for toddlers’ necks to be tough enough to handle a head-on collision. We turned our firstborn around at 12 months just like everyone else we knew, but our twins (who are almost 14 months) will be rear-facing for as long as possible – it’s just so much safer! And Camilla, who is almost 6, is still riding in a car seat with a five-point harness (I recommend the Britax Frontier) and will be until she outgrows it or refuses to tolerate it any more. Booster seats are better than nothing, but we’d all be safer in five-point harnesses! Not practical for adults, obviously, but if we can keep our kids in them, why not?

    Thanks for this piece, Stephanie! Your blog is great.

  2. Great post Stephanie. I will repost to my facebook account if it is okay because I too feel strongly about this topic. Our 26 month old is still rear-facing. Yeah, she has to bend her legs, but who really cares! I can see her through the mirror on the back headrest and she can still see the older two in the back as well that way and is happy as a clam. She can see out of the windows too. Our 7 yr old is in the Britax Frontier, 5 pt harness still and like the previous comment, she will be for years to come since it fits them. No, we are not “treating her like a baby”, and if they make quality seats for them, why not? Her brother will be getting one soon as well, and at BuyBuyBaby, I will use their 20% off coupon to save a decent amount. Thanks again for a great and life-saving message! (And if you are reading this and still aren’t convinced, just go to youtube and search rear-facing car seats. Here is one of the videos, but there are many more like it and most have very unhappy endings.
    May God bless our families!

    • Robyn thanks for posting these comments! Your Facebook message a year or so ago about rear facing seats made a big impact on me – I’m very grateful that you are spreading this message!

  3. I was in an accident about a year before yours. Atticus wasn’t with me, but it still panicked me into doing the same research and buying the same seat you chose. We have 2 now and the boys seem comfortable in them and we love them. We still have Beck rear facing and will keep him that way as long as we can. I love a deal, too. I hate that we both found out the hard way in this case, but thankfully everyone is ok!

  4. Oh- and by the way, for those of us with larger families than the average 2.2, the Diono RTX (matches up with Britax, and basically the same price) fits 3 carseats/boosters across a backseat. Can’t do that with the Britax. We just got a Diono for LUka, Sylvie is in the Britax Frontier and honestly does not love the seat, hence the Diono for Luka who is 5.

  5. […] How I Changed My Mind About Car Seats […]

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