Caring for baby

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Jane Yee: The car seat conundrum

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Our little boy is growing up so fast, and as we arrive at the signpost of each stage of his development there seems to be a new conundrum awaiting us. It's kind of like we're living in a weird alternate baby-ised version of The Amazing Race.

First it was sleeping and feeding patterns. How often? How much? Should I wake him to feed him? Uh oh, he's just fallen asleep, but I smell poop... should I change him? Hurry up, the other parents are winning!

Then it was solids. He seems hungry, but he's not six months yet! Relax, when you were a baby we fed you peanut butter on toast at three months and you turned out okay. No, don't relax! If so much as a smidge of food passes your baby's lips before he hits six months he will be plagued with allergies for the rest of his life. ROAR!

And now we're up to car seats.

We have a hatchback - just a standard run of the mill hatchback. When we bought our capsule I didn't even think to try it out on in the car before purchasing it, I just figured we had a pretty regular car and that any capsule would fit in. And it does, but only just. The front passenger seat is rammed as far forward it can go to accommodate that crafty little capsule, which means anyone riding shotgun ends up with their knees around their ears.  Believe me when I tell you that, while it looks pretty hilarious, it's mighty annoying.

Like I said earlier, our boy is growing by the day and we've now found ourselves staring down the barrel of the next stage in car seats. Over the last eight months we've come to love our little rascal more than anything in the world, so it will come as no surprise when I tell you his safety has become our top priority. I've been doing a lot of nerdy first-time-mum research and decided I'd like to install an extended rear-facing car seat so that Victor will be as safe as possible for as long as possible - hopefully for a few years to come.

But holy heck those seats are massive! We were hoping that transitioning to a new seat would give us the opportunity to finally put that knees-around-the-ears situation to bed, but no. We tried a few seats that we liked; some didn't fit in the car at all, and the one that did only squeezed in by virtue of the front passenger still being pushed right up to the dashboard... and I really don't think we want to sign up for another three years of that crap.

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Having given up my company car when I went on maternity leave, we've been in the market for a new (well, pre-loved but new to us) car for a little while.  I'm thinking perhaps now is the time to start looking as we'll be able to actively choose a vehicle that will accommodate the kind of car seat we'd like. We're lucky that the timing for another car has worked out this way for us, but I'm guessing that for a lot of people the safer extended rear-facing seats just aren't an option because they're far too big for so many vehicles. That doesn't seem fair somehow.

I'm happy to keep competing in this amazing race, and I want my baby buckled in safe and sound for the ride, I just wish that all car seats were compatible with all cars. When we got pregnant I knew one day we'd end up agonising over what school to send him to, how we'd discipline him and which NBA team we'd force him to support, but I never imagined finding the right car seat would be such a headache.

I also never imagined I'd be writing a blog entry about car seats for crying out loud. Oh how life has changed.

Surely I'm not the only one to have struggled with this leg of the race, so please do tell me about your car-seat-versus-vehicle woes. Also, I'd love to hear recommendations for cars that are roomy enough to allow for extended rear-facing car seats.

- Essential Mums

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