a short running series on what we actually had.
Get the infant carrier.
I know it feels a little frivolous to buy a carseat you'll only use for a few months to a year and a half at most. But do it. There's a few reasons:
- Picture carrying a floppy baby in and out of the house. Now do it with two. Bring your bag, milk, diapers and sanity. If this doesn't convince you, carry these multiple infant into daycare/grandmas/any other location where you can't consider abandoning one in the car while you bring the other inside. (This alone is a good reason for the carriers)
- If your kid will be little during the winter, the carrier is clutch - hats and fleeces on the babies and a stack of blankets over them! EASY, and no exposure ever to the cold for the peanuts!
- Snap and Go stroller. Carseats + this thing make errands and shopping and getting out of the house in general a breeze in the early, sleepy days.
- A lot of carseats, despite the legal approval down to 5 pounds, just don't fit newborns well. The top harness slots are often just too high. (Our peanuts were technically a bit small for their carriers when they came home, but they were in the car probably twice in the period when they were too small, so it wasn't a big deal, especially as we were able to get the straps nice and snug on them, and the harness was at the right height.
Check different stores, as patterns vary - we have a sweet teal pattern from Buy Buy Baby. As the girls were almost always in our Subaru, we only had one set of bases (which come with the seat) and just buckled them into our second car if the need arose. If you will frequently use two cars though, spring for the extra base.
You could get away with the smaller ones (22lbs/29inches), but we opted for the big ones as we wanted to use them for as long as possible. That said, our peanuts would have fit into the little ones until about a year, and still have 2 inches or so left in the 35s (which are rated to 35lbs/32inches). I can't imagine a 35 lb baby in this seat, but it fits our 20ish lb 30ish inch babies nicely.
This summer, we did move to convertible seats in our main car. It is older and the AC is questionable at best, and the girls were just SWEATING in their infant seats. Our convertibles have low sides, and they seem a lot more comfortable in them (our infant seats live full time in our new 4 door second car now). I DO NOT recommend making the move before your babies are stable sitters - it is not terribly hard to carry two babies at once who can hold themselves up, but see floppy baby commentary above!!
We opted for the Diono Radians for our family car. The primary motivation for these is size - they are narrow, and we can fit two carseats and a human into the backseat of our older Forester, which has roughly the same interior space as a late model Corolla (which we also have now! The new Foresters are MUCH larger, if you're reading this and thinking I am nuts).
I LOVE our seats, but unless you drive a giant vehicle, I wouldn't get them for a newborn. You need an angle adjuster to move them to a more upright rear facing angle, and it is too upright for a young baby (until stable sitting age). They fit fine even in our smaller car though.
Two points to note about these seats: the harness is outgrown at the same time it is outgrown as a booster, so you will probably need a dedicated low back booster if you have a taller kid (also, they must be harnessed in this seat until 50 lbs), and they expire in 8 years as a harnessed seat and 10 as a high back booster.
We have the middle model of the Radians, which come with infant/toddler padding but not the headwings of the top model. The seat is otherwise the same as the RXT. I've read the headwings can interfere with seatbelt use if used as a booster, and they're much more expensive, so we opted against it.Keep an eye out for sales - I snagged ours on sale at Kohls (Diono Radian R120 Convertible Booster Car Seat (Google Affiliate Ad) for about $175 each after coupons (no Kohls cash either!).