Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Saga of the Seven Car Seats

Note: For those of you not facing the problem of seating triplets in a vehicle, there's way more detail here than you want, but I know it will be helpful to other parents of multiples. If you head to the bottom of the post you'll learn how we came to be toting seven car seats at once.

A couple weeks before our big trek to the north country, Jeff and I realized that the boys were getting too long for their little pumpkin seats. It was time for an upgrade. I surveyed the local multiples group for their suggestions on car seats that would fit three across in our sexy Toyota Sienna.

Several moms suggested the Sunshine Kids Radian car seats. We loved the fact that they are FAA approved for use on airplanes, that they fold for easy carrying, and that they get a great safety rating because of their steel frame. We didn't love the idea of them weighing 25 lbs., because we knew we'd continually be pulling one out to allow access to the back seat.

With four kids, at least one child has to sit in the back seat. And with the triplets still facing backwards, it makes sense to put them three across the middle and for me to join Amelia in the back row so I can see the boys and tend to them. In order for me to get back there, we have to flip up a seat in the middle row, which means pulling a heavy car seat out every time.

Still, we thought we'd try them since everyone who has them seems to love them.

(By the way, has the best return policy around. They pay return shipping, make the arrangements for UPS pickup, AND there's no restocking fee.)

The verdict? The Radian 80s we tried were very nice seats, and they were narrow enough to fit well three across the middle row. But, they are very tall. A tall car seat, when placed in a rear-facing position translates to LOOOONG.

Jeff had the driver's seat farther forward than he would like, and the middle row was pushed back farther than I would like in order to accommodate the length. I found myself saying, "I wish our van was six inches longer." about shorter car seats instead?

So, we ordered three Cosco Alpha Sport car seats. We already have one of these for Amelia, and it's a nice compact, lightweight, FAA-approved and safe seat. It also is three inches shorter than the Radian, which means it gives us a little more wiggle room since we have to use the back seat.

Unfortunately, while we were getting a seven-page list of stuff together for vacation, we didn't take care of the car seats as soon as we should have. And the selection online is so much better than in the stores. That means shipping. And shipping time. (Almost every place I looked offered free shipping for an order as big as three car seats, and most that I called offered us some kind of multiples discount, too.)

By the time we had assessed the Radians and realized they wouldn't work for us, we were on a tight timeline to get seats here. I talked to the sales rep and he said they would arrive here on Wednesday, but we were leaving Thursday morning, and what if they didn't arrive? We could make do with the seats we had, but we really felt that Sam, Isaac and Alex would be safer and more comfortable in bigger seats.

So, we had the new seats shipped to my brother's house, which was about 500 miles into the trip. They were to arrive there on Thursday, and we stayed there until Saturday, so we had a little leeway. And we decided we'd rather have them for part of the trip than none of the trip.

We could have left the baby seats behind, but they are preemie seats, which are good for babies as small as three pounds. A fellow triplet mom gave them to us and we would like to return the favor by passing them along to another family. So, we picked them up when we passed back by my brother's house, shoe-horned them in and continued on our merry way, laughing about having SEVEN car seats in the car at once.

Here's a little video of the car seats in action. (Notice that there's a baby seat in the front passenger seat. Don't worry. There was never a baby in it.)

And there you have it. Proof positive that it IS possible to road trip with four kids, including three babies, and even get a little silence along the way!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Looks like Jeff is not obeying the speed limit haha!