Ode to the Infant Seat

Almost exactly 4 years ago my mother and I went to Sears and purchased a travel system. For the uninitiated, this is a stroller, infant seat, and car seat base all sold as a package. The infant seat can snap into the base for car trips, and then be transferred easily to a stroller and back again. I know some moms deride the ‘baby bucket’ on the basis that little ones need human contact, and shouldn’t spend all their time buckled into a plastic shell, and I see their point. But all the same I loved my infant seat.

Maybe not so much at first. When Hannah was born 6 weeks early the car seat was an obstacle. Before they would release her from the hospital she had to pass the ‘car seat test’. It involved strapping her into the car seat and monitoring her condition for 45 minutes or more. Really, they just want to be sure your little preemie is strong enough to survive that car ride home. It took days before they would let us do it, and became something of a sticking point for me. Luckily Hannah passed with flying colours.

Eventually we got our baby home, though, and I came to love the ease of the infant seat. When Hannah fell asleep we could take her out of the car without disturbing her. At home, on a walk in the stroller, or and running errands she would blissfully nap. The best naps were always in the car seat. My baby was not the kind of baby who would sleep through being removed from the seat and secured in a sling, no way Jose.

3-week-old Hannah at Rocky Point Park

3-week-old Hannah at Rocky Point Park

Sadly, Hannah outgrew the infant seat before she was 6 months old. Although it’s rated to 30lbs (which is about what she weighed at 3 years old), for height it was only good until 26 inches. And so her little feet were poking out the end well before I expected them to, and we had to put her in a convertible seat. As expected, she woke up every time we took her out. It became a big challenge to juggle the baby and the diaper bag and get myself ready to go without the infant seat to lay her in. I missed it immediately.

3-month-old Hannah asleep outside Lonsdale Quay

3-month-old Hannah asleep outside Lonsdale Quay

When Jacob was born, I again relished the occasional car seat nap, as he happily slept in the entryway. To give you a sense of perspective the little man spends most of his day being carried or held. He generally naps either on my shoulder, or in the mei tai on my back. It’s only a few times a month that I get an hour or two of sweet bliss as he naps on his own in the car seat. And this time around I knew it would come to an end all too soon, so I took advantage of every chance to enjoy free hands.

3-month-old Jacob buckled in for a trip

3-month-old Jacob buckled in for a trip

Sadly, Jacob’s feet have been poking out the end of his infant seat for a couple of weeks. Finally I could ignore it no longer, and bought two brand spanking new Britax Marathons. They’ve been installed, and the infant seat is packed away, ready to go into storage. And I am back to waking the baby every time we exit the car. To loading him in and out of the car seat with each and every 3-minute stop at a convenience store. I want him to be safe, but I am still disappointed.

Jacob zonked out at 4 1/2 months

Jacob zonked out at 4 1/2 months

Oh infant seat, I will miss you.

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  1. Oh, I can totally relate. Lately the only decent length naps I’ve been getting are the car seat ones. Our seat goes to 29 inches…I think so I still have time BUT it only goes to 22lbs so maybe I will have to change soon (Victoria stayed in her bucket until 28 months because she weighed so little)

    Amelia is so heavy in the seat I’m close to just leaving it in the car and carrying her in and out of the house all the time…unless she is sleeping of course 🙂

  2. Oh I know..the luxury of just carrying them easily EVERYWHERE!

  3. When my daughter was born, I thought I’d save some money and skip a travel system, and instead use a stroller handed down to me from a friend. I lasted about a month before we were at Toys R Us with the credit card, lol.

    We started with an Evenflo system, but the wheels kept falling off (um, oops). We exchanged it for the Graco Quattro, and to this day I still sing its praises. Ours had the exact fabric pattern that’s in your pics – I’m guessing you have the Quattro too? (isn’t it awesome?:)

    It’s funny because to bring newborn DD home we had a 3-1 infant/toddler/booster seat, that in my opinion, didn’t recline enough for an infant, but the hospital didn’t even bat an eye. After reading your post I’m thinking it’s because DD was 9’9″ and eight days late?

  4. I found moving out of each phase of ‘babydom’ freeing as each one passed. I am looking forward to Emma being 4 and being able to graduate to the booster seat. I am cheap, so Hannah will have the passed down car seat which currently holds Emma’s bum. My biggest joy was selling my stroller and making us each go on foot! I love my Phil & Ted’s and highly reccomend them to any one with more than 1 child. But, not having to load it in and out of my car and find a place to stash it in a restaurant is liberating. I admit, I think I do have an umbrella stroller somewhere in my garage, but I can’t tell you the last time I saw it, let alone used it.

    Jacob is getting to be such a big boy…pretty soon he will be toddling beside you on your stops and getting himself in and out of his seat all on his own!

  5. I call it the ‘bucket’ too! But only fondly. It was getting too hard for me to carry the bucket weightwise, so we moved Buster into his big brother’s old Britax Roundabout a few weeks ago. We’ve got a convertible seat/booster for Q-ster in the back seat next to it, so now I’d better never need to give a ride to more than one adult at a time!

  6. Cute little babies in bucket!! Actually i do not have any idea regarding with those travel systems, but i just want to say that it’s not really easy to let go of those things which you have get used to especially if it gives you the best benefit.

  7. It’s actually not an issue if their feet poke out, they just need at least 1 inch of hard plastic above their heads. I rarely took mine out of the car but I think they should have higher height limits as well!

  8. Mark Walters says:

    Hannah is so cute! But I agree with you, the infant seat is really functional. Nice blog!

  9. I’m actually one who never bought a “baby bucket” (and yes, I refer to them as such). I’m not a big fan for a number of reasons, but I understand why most parents buy them. I do want to point out, though, that letting babies sleep in them for long stretches, while convenient, is not really a good idea. First, tests have shown that babies do not get as well-oxygenated when sleeping in them. I know that your daughter’s oxygen was monitored while in the car seat before she left the hospital, but she was awake, right? It’s different when they’re asleep. Even non-preemies can experience low oxygen saturation when sleeping in that position, curled up. Second, it can lead to a flat spot on baby’s head, and third, it can let babies get in too deep of a sleep, which is a risk factor for SIDS. Frankly I’m in the camp that newborns NEED to be held most of the time. I understand wanting hands free – believe me, I had a newborn that WOULDN’T nap anywhere but my arms for the first 9 weeks – but to me a carrier is just as convenient and safer for baby.

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