Today, Marvin, renowned expert on the safest child seats, tackles a tough question from an upset reader.  Marvin is very sympathetic to all of his fans, but sometimes Marvin must emphasize the cold, green truth when it comes to safety.

“Dear Marvin, my daughter, Julia, is 2.5 years old and weighs 33 pounds.  She’s currently rear-facing.  I went to Car-Seat.Org for advice on which combination harness/booster model to get her.  What I got instead was 42 responses in less than an hour, all blasting me for not keeping her rear-facing!  I was so upset I broke out in tears!  Am I really a child abuser if I don’t buy a new $200 convertible seat to keep her RF for another 2 pounds? – Signed, Stumped Sierra.”

Dear Sierra.  No offense, but yes, unfortunately, you are indeed a bad parent for not buying another pricey seat for that last 2 pounds of rear-facing in the USA.  You see, the old advice of 4-steps for life is very outdated.  If you ask Marvin, even 3-, or 2-steps is bunk.  Marvin doesn’t even want to talk about those “All-in-One” solutions, mostly because we haven’t yet received a review sample of the sporty new 50-pound harness updated version of the Alpha Omega Elite or a sponsorship from Dorel (* Marvin’s opinion is subject to changeola!).

So, absolutely, set an example and be a good parent.  Isn’t your child worth it?  Go buy the most expensive convertible seat with a 35-pound rear-facing limit!  Just be sure to buy it at our Amazon.Com affiliate store!  The soda that came out of Marvin’s owner’s nose when he thought of the profits from this column spewed into Marvin’s tank and Marvin could really use part of the commissions for some good water conditioner.  Eeew.

Anyway, all this advice from these so-called “advocates” at online forums really isn’t necessary.  Marvin agrees with a previous emailer that kids should be in a 5-point harness until they are old enough to drive.  So, Marvin has developed a superior ”12-Steps for Safeness” plan for you all to follow!

  1. Your newborn might be tiny or might be a preemie.  The Chicco Keyfit is a great choice here. Be sure to get it in the Cortina Travel System!  $300
  2. It’s soooo uncool to have the same baby gear for a whole year.  Plus, you could sell the Keyfit on Carseat Swap.  Marvin is thrifty, so he thinks you should post ”accidentally” in the main Car Seats forum instead.  Don’t put a price on it, just say you are wondering how much it might be worth, because you are thinking of getting something new.  This will save you $5 on the Supporter level donation needed to post in Swap!  If you’re lucky, it will remain long enough for someone to buy your seat, before that astute member who lurks 12 hours a day looking for such misplaced posts reports you to the moderators!  Then, switch to the Graco Safe Seat Step 1 (soon to be the SnugRide 32).  It’s handy for bigger babies. $120
  3. The Britax Roundbout is an awesome first Convertible.  The harness and adjuster are unmatched after 10 years on the market in the USA!  It should serve many kids rear-facing until about 2 years old.  And, of course, it’s a Britax.  Enough said.  $230
  4. Sorry, your tall child doesn’t fit in that Roundabout by height anymore.  Plus, the Sunshine Kids Radian 80 is all the talk online and you just have to have one.  It’s much taller, will get your precious cargo rear-facing to 33 pounds and hey, where else you gonna use that Mighty Tite you got from your baby registry?! $250
  5. In Sweden, they keep kids rear-facing until puberty, so you KNOW 33 pounds isn’t enough.  Plus the pattern you picked on the last seat doesn’t match your new car.  Marvin’s advice is to select a Learning Curve First Years True Fit for that extra two pounds until 35 pounds rear-facing! $200
  6. Now your child is ready to turn around!  You could go back to front-facing in one of the previous three models, but that would take away the joy of spending your tax refund!  Plus, you might need those other seats in case you have the same water system as Trina and end up with twins or triplets!  Go with an Evenflo Triumph Advance.  It has a generous 50 pound harness limit!  $130
  7. 99th percentile four year old?  Yup.  Cut him off the twinkies.  With the savings on snacks, get something that goes to 65 pounds instead of a paltry 50.  Marvin suggests the SafeGuard Seat.  It’s the easiest seat in the universe to use and quite the status symbol among carseat techs.  Plus, the commisions on this baby alone will let Marvin’s owner mail-order a Mrs. Marvin.  I smell bubble nest!  $400.
  8. Didn’t we tell you?  65 pounds, so lame.  Plus, DH just bought a new TV so you have to retaliate.  Go with a Recaro Signo for the generous 70 pound limit. $290.
  9. No comprehensive carseat collection is complete if you lack a harness system for troublesome installs.  The Safety Angel Kid-Y harness and high back booster is the way to go and it’s good to 100 pounds!  $120.
  10. The Merritt Manufacturing Roosevelt goes up to a cool 115 pounds.  Sure, it costs a small fortune and they don’t even sell it at Amazon.com, but you’ll rest assured that NO ONE else in your neighborhood (or county) has this icon of exclusivity!  Please be sure to tell them Marvin sent you!  $625.
  11. Not content with 5-point restraints?  Have a big 15-year old or maybe your kid doesn’t learn to drive until they are in college?  Not to worry.  Just buy a Simpson Racing 7-point platinum drag racing harness system and retrofit it into your vehicle!  $385.  Swedes got you worried about massive neck forces for older passengers in a harness?  No worries, Simpson also sells a HANS device.  $695 (Helmet and labor not included).
  12. If buying and installing #11 didn’t pacify your gearhead DH, don’t forget the frying pan Marvin recommends to convince him about the merits of Marvin’s marvelous plan! 

The cost of loving your child enough to make a statement at Car-Seat.Org?  About $4000.

The confidence that your child has been kept marginally safer than any other in the universe?  Priceless.

There you have it.  Not only has Marvin given you a simple plan to maximize the safeness of your child, but he’s also kept most of his potential child restraint manufacturer sponsors happy!

Marvin’s “What’s Fishy” Advocates Corner:

Okay, okay, what’s fishy is that Marvin is lazy.  He had a whole contest planned about his fishy prices for the 12-step plan.  He was going to see which one of his super shopper readers could find the lowest total for all 12-steps.  But with shipping, closeouts, in-stock, not-in-stock, coupons, discounts, etc, etc, there was no way Marvin was going to wade through all those entries and decide what was fair and what was not.  With a brain the size of a pinhead, Marvin is going simple today.  He’s emailed Heather and Kecia a secret number.  Whoever replies to this blog entry with the comment number that matches that secret number is the winner of today’s contest! Only the first comment per person will count.

This week’s prize is the ABC (A Bag of Crap) gift pack.  Ok, well, it’s not really crap.  It’s an assortment of goodies and giveaways we have acquired at the ABC Kids Show and other conferences.  Don’t expect anything special, and you won’t be disappointed!  Marvin doesn’t have a sponsor, so there’s no big budget yet for carseat giveaways (hint!).  Marvin does ask that the winner come back and comment about all the stuff they got, so the manufacturers get a nice plug and Marvin gets a sponsor some day!

*Please note that Marvin is a fish.  The opinions expressed in Marvin’s column do not necessarily reflect those of Carseatblog.com, its sponsors or its more terrestrial authors.  Opinions subject to change without notice, depending on future agreements financially beneficial to Marvin.   All rights reserved.