Choosing a carseat for the new baby

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Can anyone give some recommendations for an infant car seat? I am due in 3 months, but I think it is now the time to look around. Which criteria should be considered? Since we will move back to Europe in October we consider buying a high quality model, using the car seat as transportation for the baby during the flight ( is this possible? ), and using it in Europe as well. Is this a good idea or should we buy a less expensive model only fot the three months in the US? I appreciate every idea and recommendation. Thank you! Andrea

1) Go to Babies R Us, and perhaps other stores, and play around with a variety of them (check the ergonomics, buckles, etc - don't forget, YOU will have to buckle & carry it). You really may want to consider a brand that works with a Snap N Go for traveling (see #5 below).
2) You should get one with a five-point harness; those are the safest. Safety criteria, as well as product availability and service, may be different in Europe.
3) None of them are nearly as expensive as the high-end toddler seats, so I wouldn't worry about price. It is DEFINITELY worth it to get an infant seat (although some seats claim you can use them from infancy through toddlerhood, it is well worth it to buy a regular infant seat that snaps into a base and that you can carry around, because the other seats aren't portable).
4) If you are willing to pay for a plane ticket to guarantee a seat for the infant (it may be worth it, with such a long flight) you can always take the carrier in the plane with you. (If you want to risk not buying one, airlines are pretty nice about letting the baby seat on the plane if they have an extra seat available, but you can't guarantee the seat will be next to yours.)On domestic flights, at least (I haven't flown internationally with our son) the baby must sit in the window seat. The infant seat will face backward, just as it does in the car, and you strap it in with the seatbelt. You will have to check the base with your baggage, but it's convenient because you can pick it up and the baby is ready to ride in a car from the airport.
5) Another VERY convenient accessory is the Snap 'N Go, a shell of a stroller that certain brands of infant seat snap onto, which turns the whole thing into a stroller of sorts. They are FANTASTIC for traveling because you can (at least on domestic flights) check them right at the gate (they collapse easily), so you stroll your infant right to the gate, only have to carry him/her and the carrier onto the plane, and then the Snap 'N Go will be returned to you at the gate when you deplane, and you stroll the baby right back out of the next airport.
6) Check for extra information.
we had planned to buy one of the infant carrier car seats before our baby was born 3 years ago, but instead we received a car seat as a gift, one that we could not return. as it turns out, it was a wonderful thing. the seat, a cosco basic model convertible car seat (can be used infant-->toddler), served us very well (actually, it still is), and cost a mere $50. actually, in california a few years ago, a horrible accident occurred where a baby girl was in that exact car seat and survived a crash that killed both of her parents. no kidding! just because it's not the fanciest option, does not mean it is not safe!

and i have to disagree with those that claim that the infant car seat carriers are convenient. have you ever watched someone carry one of those things? i have never seen someone who didn't look distressed trying to tote their baby in one of those! we chose instead to use a babysling for transferring our child to/from the car and to hold him hands free in between. we travelled by plane frequently when our son was an infant (through age 2) , cross country (from alabama to california) while my husband was telecommuting. i remember EVERY TIME being thankful that i did not have that clunky car seat or stroller to contend with at the airport, along with all the other gear. most of all, i was glad to hold my baby close-- hurrying through airports, during take-off and landing (as they recommend you do), and when he got restless and wanted to move on the plane. the sling was so handy for all of these. and remember, while the FAA approves certain car seats, they have not actually shown them to improve your child's chances of surving a serious incident. Rachel