Baby preparations are well under way. We’ve been slowly acquiring baby stuff, mostly hand-me-downs from friends, family, and neighbours. Emily has put her sewing skills to work creating a stuffed elephant and a wrap to carry the baby in. For big ticket items, we bought an Ikea crib, but we’ve been struggling to find a stroller and a car seat.
Considering we’re a car-free family and plan on staying that way after the baby arrives, a car seat may seem like a weird purchase, but it’s the only mandatory item we need before the baby arrives. The hospital won’t let you leave unless you have a car seat to put the baby in. Plus, we’ll need it whenever we use car-sharing vehicles and rental cars.
Our main criteria for a car seat:
- light and easy to transport
- can be installed quickly and safely without a base (we found European belt routing while researching the options)
- can be integrated with a stroller for those times when we need to walk a few blocks to get to a Car2Go or Modo vehicle
- not ridiculously expensive (since it will hopefully be used infrequently)
A few weeks ago we bought a Baby Trend City Clicker LX Travel System from Babies R Us. It was on sale and we liked the minimalist stroller frame when the car seat was attached. After hauling it home (in an Evo car sharing vehicle), we set it up and were dismayed to find two problems -a defective wheel lock and a broken plastic clip. We contacted customer support at Baby Trend and after a several phone calls and emails that went nowhere, I gave up and returned it for a refund. The car seat seemed decent, but the stroller was flimsy and cheap, with crappy wheels.
After that disappointment, we did a bit more research and agreed to invest in a better system. We decided on getting a Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 car seat (which we’ll pick up soon). The car seat might be a bit more expensive than we wanted, but we’re convinced European belt routing is essential for a car-sharing family and there aren’t many car seats sold in North America with that feature. We found a used Peg Perego Book Plus stroller on Craigslist and picked that up last weekend. It’s really well designed and I think we’ll be happy with it. The real test comes when the baby arrives next month.