Car Seat Dilemma

Kimberly - posted on 11/26/2010 ( 19 moms have responded )




I have a 15 month old daughter and live in the UK (where my husband is from) but I'm from the USA. We're going to visit my family in the states for Christmas in a couple weeks. Our problem is that the airline will only allow us one suitcase per person, but we can only take a car seat OR our stroller...if we want to take both then we have to take away one of our suitcases. So that would leave us with only two suitcases for the 3 of us and normally that wouldn't be such a big deal, but it's Christmas and we'll be taking a lot of gifts back with us so we need the space! My mom has offered to buy us a small stroller to use while we're out there, but we have a 5 hour layover in Houston, before we carry on to our destination and I think 5 hours without somewhere to put my little girl will drive us both mad! So that leaves the car best friend has two small nieces that she cares for quite a lot so she bought two very inexpensive car seats she could use while she has them and she's offered us one of her car seats while we're out there. I'm very grateful to my friend for her offer, but I'm concerned about the car seats she has. They're Cosco brand and she said she paid $50 each for them, now I don't want to sound like a snob or anything, but $50 just seems so inexpensive for a car seat! I don't know the American brands or how good/bad they are because I've only shopped for baby things in the UK and they don't have that brand, so I don't know what they're like. Using her car seat would really help us out and make travelling so much easier for us, but I don't want to risk my child's life in a car seat I don't trust!

What would you do? Take only 2 suitcases, stroller and our car seat, OR take the 3 suitcases we'll need, stroller, and borrow the car seat? Also, if anyone uses a Cosco I'd love to hear what you think of them...


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The Cosco brand of car seat is a stripped down, no frills, basic car seat that meets the minimum requiresments for your child's safety. No fancy plush and thick seat cushions, no cup holders, no cushiony head rests or side pillows. Basic, no frills safety car seat. Fo rmany many years, my family kept a Cosco as the spare car seat between my son & nephews, and it was well worth the investment.

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We travel quite a bit? We bought this thing that attaches to the carseat and adds wheels and a handle so yup can use it like a stroller. I can't remember the name but I think you can do a google search

Laura - posted on 11/26/2010




IMO the car seat will be the more useful tool to have (it's a safety device), especially if you have any reservations about your friend's car seat. The choice you have is safety versus convenience. Most airports have baby strollers that you can rent for a period of time (as do malls). Try contacting the airport you have the lay-over at and see if they have strollers for rent. If your mom purchases a small one for you to use at her house, then you have baby transportation covered. IMO safety always trumps convenience when it comes to our kids! Safe travels to you and your family!


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Natasha - posted on 12/03/2010




I would leave the stroller at home. The car seat is more important. I'm quite partial to my chosen car seats as well. If your child is like mine, she wouldn't be spending all 5 hours of the layover in the stoller anyway. If your layover will be in the international airport at Amsterdam, she'll have plenty of room to stretch her legs and roam. Between you and your husband, take turns holding her hand or carrying her if she's still a crawler. Have lunch and bring toys/books to entertain her while you wait.

You can get an umbrella stroller (under $20) when you get here or borrow one from a relative when you take the baby out to go shopping or sight seeing.

Heather - posted on 12/02/2010




You don't really have to take your stroller. I live in Germany and fly to the US to visit my family, so I know how it is to travel internationally with a little one (my daughter is 1yr old). Why not use a baby carrier so she is strapped onto you and your hands are free? That's what I do instead of taking a stroller.

If you don't trust that car seat, check out Wal-Mart's website. They have good car seats for reasonable prices. Plus big items like that will ship for only 97-cents! So you can pick out the car seat you want and have it sent directly to your mom, so she can have it in the car prior to your arrival.

Rachel - posted on 12/02/2010




I would say you should be fine to borrow a car seat , or just buy one now have your parents store it till you move back so you dont' have to buy it later.
many of the rules that they have for car seats are just to make more money off you. in Canada if you go to the US and buy a seat, same make and model, it is illegal to use it in canada because it does not have the canadian sticker on it. although .... unless you are going to some car seat clinic, I have never heard of a police officer checking for the sticker or even age of the car seat.

Victoria - posted on 12/02/2010




if the car seats werent up to a certain safety standard they wouldnt be able to sell them. take the stroller and 3 cases.

Sylvia - posted on 11/27/2010




I doubt very much that there's anything wrong with the carseat (we do have safety standards in North America, after all). But I certainly would choose the carseat over the stroller, because a carseat is something you actually need -- at least, if you're going to ever be in a car or a taxi while you're on holiday -- whereas a stroller is just one more big pain-in-the-ass piece of equipment to haul around with you everywhere :P Also, if you're going in the middle of winter, unless you'll be somewhere 'way down south where they don't have snow, I can't imagine you'd get much use out of it.

But maybe that's just me. I do know a couple of mums who swear they couldn't get by without their strollers.

User - posted on 11/27/2010




That's awfully judgmental seeing as how every carseat that is sold HAS to meet all the requirements of the government.

Angie - posted on 11/27/2010




If you pack your child's clothes in zip lock bags in outfits, it will save a huge amount of room and you may not need the 3rd suitcase. In fact, you can pack underwear and socks for adults the same way. If you are small and going to a warm place you can do the same for yourself - I can do that and I'm not small - 5' and size 4.

Belinda - posted on 11/27/2010




Just a note that all car seats sold have to meet certain safety requirements by law so in that sense are "safe".. Your other option is to just buy your car seat when you get over here for your vacation, instead of waiting until April to buy it. Then it will be waiting for you when you move back.

Kimberly - posted on 11/27/2010




Thanks for all your replies...after posting this I talked to my husband and he'd already decided we'd just pay the $100 ($50 each way) extra baggage fee to take the car seat with us and still get our 3 suitcases. We've already looked into the laws and you're allowed to take your car seat with you on holiday, but not if you're going to live there (which we are planning to do in April 2011) Jodi, we've already looked into hiring a car seat as well with our car but they're going to charge us something like $10 a day and for 14 days that adds up to more than we want to spend! Plus, you have no idea where those hire car seats have been, some other kid could have puked in them or they may have been in an just never know! I wouldn't buy a second hand car seat for the same reasons I wouldn't use a hire one...

I also think it's pretty ridiculous that my child is safe on UK roads in her car seat (which is the same brand and model sold in the states, it just has a UK sticker on it...) but once I get to America she is no longer safe according to their laws! We're moving to the states in 5 months and I'm going to have to buy a brand new car seat (again...same brand and model!!) that I JUST purchased 3 months ago...something doesn't add up to me...but that's a whole different topic!

Thanks again :)

Medic - posted on 11/26/2010




I have Cosco carseats as my extra seats for when other people take my kids and they are rated in the top 10 US carseats.

Jodi - posted on 11/26/2010




That's a good point too Tracey. I know when we are travelling internationally in a couple of months, we are hiring a car, and the car hire companies will hire you a compliant car seat. It may be worth checking into whether you can hire one somewhere.

Sneaky - posted on 11/26/2010




Are you even allowed to use a UK car seat in the US? In Australia it is a BIG no no, you can't bring any car seats that don't meet the Australian standards.

Jodi - posted on 11/26/2010




Just out of interest, can you pay to take excess luggage, or is that (a) not an option or (b) too expensive?

Jessica - posted on 11/26/2010




The cosco car seats aren't THAT bad.... They're just not padded very well. ETA* if you're in a car accident, you're going to want to have a carseat with more padding than a cosco.

Jana - posted on 11/26/2010




The Cosco car seat is probably fine, but you could look it up on a child-safety website.
Have you considered shipping the gifts or even some of your clothes ahead of you? I know someone who always boxes up his clothes and other items and sends them by UPS to his parents house. He only takes a carry-on bag with a change of clothes and a few toiletries, just so he can avoid the whole checked luggage hassle.

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