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Choosing An Infant Carrier Seat

Q: My husband and I recently started looking at infant car seats for the baby we are expecting to have in early summer. We both got totally overwhelmed and confused by the different models. Can you give us some guidance on this?

A: Yes, I'd be happy to. For years this particular area of child equipment has been an interest of mine. I can't tell you how many times I've literally almost cried when I saw an infant in some car seat all folded over with his or her head either totally hanging forward or lolling off to the side at a crazy angle.

Ideally what is needed is to have something that complies with all the safety regulations but also allows your baby to be as horizontal as possible. The other important point is to have the baby's head very stabilized from side to side.

Ten years ago when my son was an infant, we used to tip his infant carrier as far back as possible and then prop his head on each side with multiple layers of cloth diapers. I have to tell you it wasn't very aesthetic, but it did serve the purpose of better positioning for his body.

Fortunately, at least one company also observed a need for something different in this area of infant products. At this time, the only infant car "seat" that I can truly recommend is really a car "bed." It is made by Cosco and is called the Ultra Dream Ride Car Bed.

In my recent research into this area, it is the only product that allows the baby to be fully horizontal. This allows him or her to sleep fully stretched out, either on the back or on the side, as is needed and wanted.

The ability to have the baby fully horizontal is important for at least the first two to three months. After that, infants have a little more control of their bodies and can sit up some when awake. At that time the car bed converts to a sitting position similar to other brands.

As I mentioned, it is also very important to have the baby's head supported from side to side. There are many car seat pillow products that give the illusion of doing this, but don't come anywhere near doing the job. You will need to get the one with the most padding needed to truly support your baby's head and keep it stable from side to side. This will change as they grow.

The three drawbacks to the Cosco Dream Ride Car Bed that I know of are the handle design, the cost and the availability. As of this time, the handle is not as ergonomically designed for the parents' comfort as some other car seats. I personally feel that the baby's positioning is a much more important consideration. As well, a parent can pick the whole thing up and hold it close to the hips without using the handle at all.

When I recently wanted to purchase one of these for my friend's baby shower, I found that they were not available at any of about 15 stores in our area that I called. They are available from the Natural Baby Catalog (phone number 800-388-2229) as item #806500 for $89.95 plus shipping. The description is "car seat bed." They can also be purchased directly from Cosco if you inform them that they are unavailable in your area. Cosco's phone number is 800-544-1108. The cost is $80.05, including shipping.

Although the car bed is approximately $30 more than many car seats, I truly can't recommend anything else. I know that many of the spinal misalignments and decreased organ function that I need to correct in my infant patients are caused by the multiple hours spent in totally poor positions in their car seats. The difference in price will be more than made up in better future health for your child and fewer visits to the chiropractor.

Have a great delivery and happy car hours for both you and your baby.