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Best Car Seats by Car

DriveApart’s founder test drives the best car seats for every automotive situation.

Best Car Seats by Car

Basically, I drive cars for a living. Every week, in and out, a new car shows up at my office for me and the staff of DriveApart to test out. Which was fine and great when I was first married, but now, as a dad to a lovely daughter named Ruby, I have installed more seats than a tech at your local baby store. My range of infant car seat testing has been pretty extensive--I’ve put a one in everything from the back of a Rolls-Royce (surprisingly easy) to a Ferrari California T (not going to happen) and all manner of cars in between. What I’ve realized: the LATCH system is the greatest thing invented...and I can install an UPPABaby Mesa in about 35 seconds flat. Inevitably Ruby became a toddler, and now at 15 months, it’s time to move her into a convertible seat. So the test drives began again. Lucky for you, we’ve tried a variety of models along our car seat journey from infant to toddler, including Clek, Britax, Maxi-Cosi and UPPAbaby. Here’s our reviews of each. SEAT NAME: Clek Foonf STYLE: Convertible Car Seat with available infant adaptor. TESTED WITH: Maserati Quattroporte GTS BEST FOR: Design-driven parents who are totally into safety, since the Foonf is one HEAVY (and safe) seat. This seat looks great and has a slim profile. It’s great for those with a smaller car, which is what you’d expect from Clek, since it started off as a division of automotive supply manufacturer Magna International. WHY WE LOVE IT: For those into safety, design and, may I add, cars, the Foonf is a best bet. First off, it looks amazing. It’s built like a tank, with a 33-lb. weight to match. The Foonf is made with a rigid metal sub-structure with energy-absorbing EPP foam layers on the outside of the seat. That and its adjustable headrest work together to provide optimal side impact protection. While the seat cushion is somewhat thin, fitting the European styling, Ruby was comfortable for extended trips. The Foonf also comes with an infant insert so you can start using it when your baby is just 5 lbs. DOWNSIDES: It’s heavy, at 33-lbs. That means when your child hits more than 35 lbs. in forward-facing mode, or 25 lbs. rear facing, you can no longer use LATCH system but instead need to use the seatbelt (when front-facing, seat belt is in addition to LATCH) to lock down the seat. This isn’t that bad if you’re not schlepping the Foonf from car to car on the regular, but can be tough for a city parent car-sharing or traveling in a cab. Also, the Foonf is quite expensive. RETAIL PRICE: 2015 Clek Foonf, $449.99, Infant Thingy, $69.99 SEAT NAME: UPPABaby Mesa STYLE: Infant Car Seat TESTED WITH: Everything from a Porsche Panamera and Mercedes-Benz S-Class to a Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-7 BEST FOR: Design driven parents who want a whole “system” (stroller plus car seat). Also, if you’re in and out of an Uber, the install system is easy as punch and, at under 19 lbs., this stroller is lightweight too. WHY WE LOVE IT: Ruby spent more than a year in the seat, so it holds a place near and dear to us. Also, as part of the UPPABaby family, you can use the Mesa seat with their excellent Vista stroller, which lets you fit multiples, praise be the lord, onto the same stroller. Also, both the seat and stroller were updated for 2015 with new features like weight reduction and new fabrics for the Mesa, and new seating configurations for the Vista. DOWNSIDES: This is where baby seats get complicated. With an infant seat and base model, like the UPPABaby, you can take junior in and out of the car without waking up the poor dear, as the whole Mesa is removable from the base. From there, you can clip to the Mesa onto a Vista stroller and you’re off. Which is great, but gets expensive since, depending on the size and growth pattern of your child, the clock is ticking and you’ll need to buy a convertible seat within a year. Is convenience is worth the price? PRICE: UPPAbaby Mesa 2015 Safety Car Seat, $299.99; UPPAbaby 2015 Mesa Base Safety Car Seat, $119.99 SEAT NAME: Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 STYLE: Convertible Car Seat (but if you opt for the Pria 70, there is an infant insert available.) TESTED WITH: Lexus NT200 SUV and Volkswagen Passat BEST FOR: Parents who are into comfort and high-end goods--this is a premium seat. Also, it’s perfect for parents who own a car and take a lot of trips with baby in tow. WHY WE LOVE IT: I love the cup holder; I love the oversized nature of seat and the extra padding, and I love that Ruby, out of all the seats, loves this one the most. My wife Nikki loves the seat so much that when it came, she claimed it as hers to test. Nikki thinks this seat has the most room for your little one, especially in the headrest area, and the synthetic CosiCushion premium fabric is great, easy to clean and does not get hot in the sun. I totally agree with her. DOWNSIDES: No infant insert, as you need to ‘downgrade’ to the Pria 70 for that option. Also, good luck finding one on sale. PRICE: Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat, $299.99, Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat and infant insert, $249.99 SEAT NAME: Britax Advocate G4.1 STYLE: Convertible Car Seat TESTED WITH: Toyota Corolla WHAT PARENT IT FITS BEST: Suburban Moms with big back seats. WHY WE LOVE IT: Safety, safety, safety. This seat is massive and overbuilt – in all the right ways and comes with Britax’s SafeCell Impact Protection - which is an integrated system of safety components that work together to protect the child beyond federal safety standards as well as a SafeCell Complete Side Impact Protection MAX, which is a deep protective shell that absorbs crash forces and shields your child from debris. We also really like the Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator, which gives a nice audible "click" when the harness gets to the proper positioning. This seat is built to take a licking and perfect for moms with a lot of kids banging in and out of the car. This is Britax’s top of the line car seat and it shows. DOWNSIDES: Ruby took awhile to adjust to this seat as the head bolsters, which are some of the safest on the market, blocked her view out the window. The seat has so many safety features it seems there isn’t much room left for baby. PRICE: Britax Advocate G4.1 Convertible Car Seat, $379.99 The Results: While there was a clear winner for me--the Clek Foonf--Mrs. DriveApart (my wife, Nikki) really loved graduating from our traditional infant seat (the UPPABaby Mesa) to the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85, which, I may add, is like a Lazy-Boy for the infant market. And The Bottom Line on Car Seat Shopping: Go to the store and try out every seat with the baby in tow, as you’ll never know what works best for your baby until you try it out. These seats last a long time and cost some serious coin, so the worst thing you can do is buy the wrong seat, wasting time and money and causing some avoidable many baby meltdowns.

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Please note: The opinions in this post reflect that of the author only. For safety information, please consult a certified child passenger safety technician.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.

$13

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.

$15

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.

$45

Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.

$30

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.

$10

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.

$30

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.

$48

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.

$14

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.

$30

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.

$250

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

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