Skipping the Infant Car Seat

Skipping the Infant Car SeatWhat? Skip the infant seat? Did you read that right? Well, yes, yes you did. I did it and so can you, if you so choose.

When I was pregnant, I started reading up on car seats, trying to figure out what we would need. During that search I came across the options of an infant seat, the kind that snaps into a base and can be removed from the car, and the types that are called convertibles, meant to be used from birth through toddler-hood. There are pros and cons for both options, but here are the reasons why we eventually decided that going straight to a convertible was right for us.

  • Our car situation. An infant seat can be very useful if baby will travel in multiple vehicles. Since it’s the base – not the seat – that you secure into the car, it’s economic to purchase multiple bases for each car. This also allows you to install the base correctly in each car just once, reducing the risk of improper seat installation and use. In our case, though, we have just one car where baby would primarily ride and did not foresee the need to frequently uninstall the seat, so installing the convertible seat from the start was fine with us.
  • Our budget. Some women told me that their baby stayed in the infant seat for over a year, while others said their kids outgrew it within a few short months. Either way, at some point babies do outgrow the infant seat and you need to purchase a convertible. Since so many convertibles come with infant inserts and can be used from birth, we did not see reason to buy two car seats. We found a great sale on a great convertible instead. We were happy and so was our budget. Also, since it is not recommended to buy/sell a car seat used, we didn’t have to worry about what to do with the infant seat once we were done with it.
  • My interest in babywearing. A common reason for wanting an infant car seat is the fact that you can take baby along in the seat into restaurants and stores without removing them from the seat, or can use seat compatible strollers. I did not see this as necessary, as I planned to have options such as ring slings available for that purpose. That is exactly what I did and never had an issue.
  • Ease of use. I decided to not buy an infant seat because it was too easy to use? Yep, you heard me. While reading while pregnant, I learned that it is extremely dangerous to place car seats on top of shopping carts. I learned that babies who spend too much time in their car seats (car to store to stroller to car to nap at home) and other similar shaped devices are at risk for torticollis and positional plagiocephaly. I learned that an overturned restaurant high chair is nothing more than a tip waiting to happen when holding a car seat. No one means to overuse the car seat. It just happens. I knew that even with best intentions, we’d utilize the fact that we could take baby in the seat away from the car. Maybe I’d be strict about it, but would my husband or other caregivers always resist temptation? Rather than worry about it, we opted to skip the option altogether.

Of course, I am not encouraging anyone who may need to use an infant seat, such as in the case of premature infants, to opt out of one. In the case of preemies, always work with medical professionals to determine the proper car seat to use with your child. In our case, we were blessed with a 7lb, 9oz full term daughter who had no issue going home in her convertible seat, other than the fact that the hospital was rather confused when we couldn’t bring the seat in for inspection! (They inspected it in car.) If any of this resonates with you, maybe a convertible from the start is the right option for you as well.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and 2.5 year old daughter, who is still riding (rear-facing) in the car seat she first came home in.

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6 Responses to “Skipping the Infant Car Seat”

  1. Vanessa Johnson says:

    We skipped the infant seats with our twins for most of the same reasons. I knew that they were going to out grow it sooner than later so it was smarter not to purchase 2 infant ones and then shortly after purchase 2 more convertible seats. Although we did get one for our daughter which is 10 1/2 months younger for ease of use and lack of room in the car for three convertible seats. Now they are 3 and 2 and all have Diono Radian RXT’s. If I’d seen these from the beginning that would have been the only seat for all three of my kids.

  2. Jodi Lovgren says:

    My first son screamed every time we put him in the infant car seat, once he was in the convertible, around 5 months, we never had issues. Second son was in the convertible by the time he was 2 months. Same for number 3. I hated carrying the car seat around and preferred to babywear. I definitely would recommend skipping the infant car seat if you don’t already have one. As an experienced parent, a lot of the things that are out there to buy now, are not really needed.

    • Erin88 says:

      You commonly hear this as a reason people turn their baby around before the recommended age and weight. I wonder if switching to a convertible seat would solve that problem for most babies?

  3. Becky says:

    We skipped it too with our second baby. With our first, it just seemed like more hassle than it was convenient. He got heavy very quickly, and as a short mom living at the top of a flight of stairs, I dreading lugging that thing around and had the bruised arms and shins to show for it. Plus, he didn’t like being in for it for long, especially out of the car, so we’d end up taking him out most of the time anyway. When he fell asleep in the car, it was just as easy to gently unbuckle him and stick him in a carrier where he fell right back to sleep, than to unclick the car seat, jostle it out of our little car, snap it into the stroller or carry it trying not to jostle him awake. Baby wearing won that scenario every single time. I honestly never, ever missed the infant seat with our second. Even in the single digits of winter, he was totally fine being carried to/ from the car wrapped in a cozy blanket.They are a complete waste of money in our family.

    • Becky says:

      Edit: and I’m a CPST 🙂 my newborn fit great and perfectly safe in his convertible.

  4. Krystal Nixon says:

    We skipped infant seat also! I have a 3yo and didn’t find it practical carrying an infant seat while chasing a toddler. Plus it forced me to baby wear more! I love it!