my 3-year-old, my friend

safety-1st-new-carseat-2Every single time we get in the car, my almost-three-year-old tells me that the straps are too tight. But, really, they're just as they should be. She just doesn't like being constrained. She's a free spirit, after all. She likes to run and leap and let the wind blow through her hair.

So, I keep the straps safe and snug - and we get on our way. She is generally quiet in the car - thoughtful, observant. But sometimes she sings or asks questions. And she gets excited when we go under tunnels or on bendy roads.

The best thing about almost three-year-olds is that you can have full conversations with them.

She and I talk. We really talk. About what to eat for lunch and how to help others and why it's important to brush our teeth.

Her intellect often astonishes me. She picks up on so much. She teaches me something new almost every single day. Truth be told, I like hanging out with her - in the car or otherwise.

She's funny. She's fearless. She's my friend.


safety 1st air protect car seat* She is riding in Safety 1st's new Air Protect car seat. The Air Protect™ technology shields children from side impact intrusion and immediately reduces crash forces at the most critical spot: around a child’s head.  At first, I wondered if my daughter would be bothered by those massive "wings" around her head, but she didn't say a thing. In fact, she seems to much prefer this car seat to her old one.

My husband and I also prefer it because it is narrower than most other convertible seats on the market - a good thing when you're trying to smoosh two car seats into the backseat of a Toyota Camry.

The Air Protect car seat works in both the rear-facing and forward-facing mode for 5 lb. babies all the way up to 50 lb. preschoolers. It retails for $249.99 and is available exclusively at Babies R Us & Toys R Us. The seat is comfortable, the colors are stylish, and - most importantly - the safety ratings are high. I recommend it.

safety 1st logoWIN IT! One winner will receive a Safety 1st car pack, which includes: a See Baby Soft Mirror, a Secure View Mirror, a Soft Solution Roller Shade, a "Baby on Board" window sign, and a $25 gas gift card. To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Sunday, September 6th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

*UPDATE* The winner is #17 Sara. Congratulations!

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147 comments on “my 3-year-old, my friend”

  1. Now that looks like a comfy ride. We called my oldest son the "Car Seat Houdini" at 3 years old he was able to unbuckle his car seat all on his own which caused me constant worry whenever we went anywhere.

  2. Sweet! My twins are getting ready to make the transition to bigger carseats. My son is getting ready to switch to a booster so I'm about to order a 'cars' one for him :)

  3. We are having an issue right now fitting 3 carseats into the back of our SUV. It's a tight fit, and I think as soon as the baby gets out of the infant seat we are going to have a problem. A narrower carseat with extra head protection would be just what we need!

  4. I would love to win one of these seats for my little one. I have a 3 year old and a 18 month old and it is hard to smoosh 2 car seats in a car then add my teenager. LOL!! I normally give up the front seat so my son can have room in seat between the car seats with my girls. I have one great 5 point harness but my MIL bought my 3 year old a booster seat and gave my good seat away this past weekend. So i am trying to get the funds to buy another 5 point harness seat because I do not think she is old enough to safely use a booster seat. Thank you for the oppurtunity to win a seat.
    Thank you

  5. Just a note! They just passed a law in Texas that everyone in a car must wear seat belts.
    Too many people would drive around thinking adults did not have to wear seat belts in the rear seat so they did not restrain children iwith safety belts once they no longer were little enough for a car seat.

    Now everyone must be buckled up & they pass tighter laws on the ages for being in car seats or boosters.

    Kudo's for Texas!

  6. I enjoyed reading about the car seat and your almost three year old daughter. Safety is so important and three year olds learning to communicate are priceless.

  7. Our first is on the way and will show up in a few months. I've handled my sisters kids fairly frequently though and know what a hassle a full size, full weight, old school child safety seat can be. I can understand why parents would want to move to booster only options as soon as possible, but I can't fathom why anyone would trade safety for convenience when it comes to their child! I know for our son, safety will be paramount, and this carseat seems like its hands down the best. Thanks so much for the contest, I hope I can scratch this off my list before my baby shower :)

  8. thanks for the chance to win all things we could use. Both of my children do the straps to tight too. My little boy cant wait to get into a booster seat like his cousin but thats still a couple years away thanks for the chance to win [email protected]

  9. I do need a new car seat, because my two year old has learned how to get out of his and does it every time I'm driving these days!

  10. Oh wow, that looks like a really nice car seat. You can see how it protects on the sides, etc.

    I think sometimes those wings you were worried about, actually make the kids feel safer. Almost like how they feel swaddled when newborn.

  11. HOly Cow! Id expect way more comments! I enter all your giveaways ans can never be lucky enough to win!
    I need this for my BFFs baby shower next month! Sooo excited...
    Thanks for the chance I am crossing my fingers on this one!

  12. This sounds great, and my little one is about to get her first convertible carseat. This one sounds like we should check it out. Thanks for the chance.

  13. I could really use some safety mirrors for my little. I have a four year old, and two year old with only on shade in the window. They complain when one gets to sit on the side with the shade, so its time for another one. LOL.

  14. Just had another baby so this would be wonderful to win! Safety is so important to us! The gas card would also be a help!

  15. Safety 1st products are very trustworthy! This car seat looks like it would be much safer and more comfortable than mine. All these prizes would be very useful.

  16. I miss age 3, my daughter will turn 5 in a few days, and now she knows everything and don't need mommmy lol!
    My son is one, and he hates being constrained already too. Thanks for the chance!!

  17. Ian is the same way about hating constraints! He too learned though if he tries to get out he does't get to go anywhere fun so once was enough.

    He'll be 3 in November and yes, the singing and telling little stories is soooooo cute.

  18. I'm due this winter and having a mirror which I can see what my baby is doing in is such a great idea! I've always been a nervous mom an this would make driving alone with my little one so much less stressful!
    lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

  19. I saw a video demo of the new Safety 1st carseat and am sold. I was considering a Britax, which is great, but I think I like this better and like my Safety 1st infant carseats I have right now. Thanks for the giveaway.

  20. I have a close family friend who is expecting in November. I would love to give this to her. I think many people undervalue the worth of small children. They learn and understand so much. Thank you

  21. My goddaughter has to ride 3 hours each day in a car seat and she absolutely hates it. You have to entertain her constantly the entire ride. These products would be a great help! Thanks for the chance!

    sherri419 at gmail dot com

  22. this would be so useful...i have a one yr old grandaughter and also have a 1 month old grandaughter, i am always so conserned about their safty

  23. Our 19 month old hates riding in the car. And from day one he's never slept while riding unlike most kids. This would come in handy and hopefully keep him distracted. Thanks for the giveaway.

  24. Isn't it amazing how much of the world 3 year olds have already absorbed? They truly are sponges. It's funny how you can look back at only a few months ago wondering when she'll start speaking in understandable sentences, to being here today and amazed at her vocabulary range!

  25. Thanks for review of the carseat - it definitely looks like an extremely secure and comfortable option, and it's good to know it works well in smaller models of cars (which I have myself)! And thanks for the chance to win this terrific set of items - the Roller Shade in particular is something I'd get a lot of use from, and the 'Baby on Board' sticker is a great bonus!

  26. I love the days that my almost-3-year-old and I can hang out like friends. It's so great to look at her and think about how I will have her as a friend for the rest of my life. I already can't remember back when she was too young to have conversations with and I have to remind myself when I'm talking to my 8-month-old that she isn't there yet!

  27. 3 yr olds are something else and so very sweet!! It's nice when communication gets easier and you can take out all of the guess work.

    Would love this!

  28. That car seat looks great, I'm all about finding the safest car seats for my kids. This is one I will definetly consider now!

  29. My daughter absolutely loves riding in the car because she has a box full of "car toys" she gets to play with during the ride. She sings to her music and to most of them music on the radio too!

  30. What a nice looking carseat. We have to start shopping for a new carseat for our 6th child. We have until April, but it's still nice to see what is new & out there.

  31. My kids are big kids. The 2 yr old looks like a 4 yr old but still needs a carseat made for a 2year old but fits his big self. It's important that products work for all kids.

  32. I am excited about this car seat. But, what worries me, is rear impact too. Like, I know as adults we get bad whiplash, but how about our babies? This is a good step to help though in the Complete Air. It is not bulky like some other impact tested convertible seats I've seen at Babies R Us. Every time I drive, I always think of what will happen to my 9 month old Son if we got in an accident.

  33. My niece just had a baby and I would love to give her this package because I also have a little one, and I love my See Baby Soft mirror, and I know she would too! Thank you.

  34. Your daughter sounds adorable, and that's great she's at an age where she can understand things and really talk to you. Thanks for this giveaway! Am I really the 100th comment? LOL Doesn't sound lucky!!

  35. I have a four year old daughter, and a two year old son that have both recently had birthdays! Thanks for sharing this picture, and I love that new carseat, very safe looking!

  36. We are expecting our first child and all of this would come in handy for sure- there will be nothing better then seeing our child on our long car trips to see our parents. This is great!

  37. Wow that is one looking comfy seat. I am lucky my daughter for the most part rides well in the car with the help of a binky. I want more kids soon, so two car seats will be needed and this would be such a blessing and money savings. thanks for offering it!

  38. I am expecting my first child in November and I believe this is something that I will need because of the safety that comes with it.

  39. I have researched so many infant car seat, convertible and boosters. This would make it really easy for me to get one for free and I love the color and the safety of this one.

  40. The Mrs. and I are expecting our first in a couple months and are reading everything we can get our hands on so that we're prepared (even though we won't completely be). What should we be looking for in a car seat? What's worked for you? We're about to start the baby shower registration process...

  41. I too love having conversations with my little ones. I have a hard time with parents who talk "baby talk" to children exclusively. Both the parent and kiddo are missing out on some good (and funny) car rides!

  42. With a large truck (extended cab Dodge) and three car seats in the back, anything slimmer, and sturdier will help!

    I need to make sure my toddlers and kindergartner are safe. Big truck or not... I need them EXTRA safe!

  43. This looks like a great carseat. We currently own an Evenflo model that we use for my two year old daughter - she too does not like how the straps feel, but she doesn't protest too often. This would be great to have on hand - right now we are constantly switching the car seat from one vehicle to another.

  44. I still have my 2 year old daughter rear-facing. We are big believers in extended rear facing as per the APP recommendations of keeping children rearfacing to at least 2 years old. We will keep our daughters rear-faced until they hit the rear facing limit on their car seats.

  45. we are on number 4, and my daughter has the same complaint about it being too tight, also very smart like your little daughter and its fun to talk to her everyday.

  46. i have the same problem with my 2 1/2 year old he always thinks his carseat is too tight. i do wonder what he is going to do when the new baby gets here. will he want to stay n his seat like he baby, will he want to go in the babys var seat or will he want to be like his daddy and not have one at all.

  47. It is so vital to properly and safely secure our children in their car seats. Not only is it the law, but it can save their lives! I remember the Mr. Rodgers' song: There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You. Safely securing your child in their car seat - deapite their protests - is another way you show them that you love them.

  48. keep talking to your little girl. the more a parent converses with their child the less likely for that child to end up in trouble later on. and yes even at 16 and 25 they still tend to amaze me at what is going on in their heads. I make sure to talk to my 2 little guys daily even though the oldest is married with a baby and 3 states away. If i dont hear from him by an hour or so after dinner he gets a call from me. Somedays its only a 3 or 4 min conversation, but also there are a lot of times where I know hes glad to have someone to unload on or shoot ideas past or just bs about sports to take his mind off the rigors of life. You dont have to be their friend in order to have a great open relationship.

  49. i have a 5 month old and i can't wait when he starts talking, if i win this seat would definitely keep it till he is big enough to sit in it.

  50. My 19 month old just figured out how to unhook her car seat. Luckily she only does it when we stop but I thought I had years before this would happen.

  51. My son is also very enjoyable to ride with in the car. We've never done DVD players or anything like that and he hardly ever gets iritated by long car rides. We talk and we sing and he "reads" books or does sticker books. We have a great carseat as well but unlike yours ours is pretty wide. Our daughter's infant base will not fit next to his and barely will another person's bottom. But for right now as a family of 4, that's ok.

  52. my daughter hates her car seat...she does not like being confined but safety first so she is the car seat no matter what....hopefully as she gets older she will play with a few toys while in the car

  53. We're awaiting the arrival of our little girl in November. I'm still trying to decide on a car seat. Thanks for the post...I'll look into this one.

  54. I love the See Baby mirror! I appreciate baby being rear facing for safety issues, but I also love being able to peek at her when I'm at stoplights.

  55. I'm so with you. I love hanging out with my daughter. We have real conversations, too, and it amazes me. There's no one else I'd rather spend time with.

  56. The biggest thing I like about this seat is the fact that it's narrower than most other convertible seats on the market. I hear rav reviews over the Britax but they are too bulky for my car. Plus it goes up to 50lbs! My 20 month old is already 30pds so I need a seat that will be with him until he is ready for a booster.

  57. Thanks for the review on this car seat! I have found it hard to find a car seat that is narrower so I can fit the seats in the back of the van right. I will go check this one out! Three years old is a wonderful age. They do TALK and talk a lot. They say the funniest things also.

  58. I would love to have this for my nephew. I want him to be safe in my car and this looks like a great carseat.

  59. I have always been apprehensive about carseats that dont have raised edges by the head area. I feel safer. My baby is scared to ride forward, he cries. I think mirrors and shades for glare will help a lot in the transition.

  60. We are expecting our first in January ~ and though we have been picking up things here and there, I hadn't thought about mirrors for the backseat ~ wonderful idea.

  61. We always had problems with my second daughter, she hated car rides until she outgrew the infant car seat. My oldest wanted to "take her back" because all she did was cry in the car. Once she got into the toddler car seat and could ride forward she was fine. Today she is 24 and still cannot ride in anything backwards lol

  62. The fact that it is a bit narrower than other carseats is a nice feature, like the person above me said...every inch counts and if you can reduce the size of the seat without compromising the integrity of it and it's safety features, what a great thing! I would be a little unsure about the "wings" as you put it at the sides where the child's head goes. I'm glad to hear that yours didn't complain about it though, maybe they're not as intrucive as they look.


  63. This would be great for my sister who just had twins. She got our hand-me-down mirror for checking on rear facing babies, but we only had one so only the fussy twin gets monitored. Thanks for the giveaway.

  64. I have always had 2 car seats squished in my car too and it does get squishy. I'm glad that they are changing seat designs to fit better in a tight area!

  65. My son will be 3 in december, and this seat looks great because it looks like it has support on the sides to enable comfortable car naps.

  66. I really like Safety 1st products. I used them with my 2 older children and they've always been durable and reliable. My oldest was the worst when it came to being in a carseat. It's a good thing I stuck to it, though because now that she's a teenager she's the first one to put a seat belt on and reminds everyone else to.

  67. We're going to be shopping soon for a new carseat and I'm definitely going to check out Air Protect carseat.

    When my daughter and I travel in the car, we like to talk to each other too...well, the conversation is alittle one-sided because she's only 10 months old! We have fun anyway!

  68. When my children were small, we didn't have car seats. We didn't even have seat belt laws! Children are much safer today.
    smchester at gmail dot com

  69. I would have loved one of these seats for my daughter, but she is almost 5 now. I think if another child came along, we would definitely get one, since 2 of the older seats seem to take up the entire back seat.

  70. I am ecstatic about this new car seat from Safety 1st. As of recently, I'm learning that not all car seats are created equal. Since we're expecting a new addition to the family, we're shifting seats around and looking to purchase another one. This seat is at the top of my list right now.

  71. One of the things I like about the large wings on the side is that when they fall asleep their little heads can't topple over to the side!

    Nice giveaway!!!

  72. I really like the Air Portect feature in the Safety 1st New Air Protect Car Seat.Really is a relief to know you have that extra protection around the childs head.

  73. I have always said that age 3 is my absolute favorite age. I love that language is so developed, and the innocence and wonder at the world is so beautiful to see. Thanks for the lovely giveaway.

  74. I love that this one is narrow. We're thinking of having another child and will need narrow seats to fit three across. We love our current seats, but there is no way three will fit!

  75. I spent $300 dollars on my daughters car seat thinking it would be the safest one and I am truly SO unhappy with it! It came highly recommended as well. I love the idea of a mirror so I can see my daughter well while I can drive!

  76. I'm glad you like talking to her while driving instead of just keeping her busy so you can make calls or something. You're a good mama Stephanie!

  77. I have a car seat about to expire soon. I just started researching what I was going to replace it with. this new seat looks really nifty.

  78. My little one isn't talking quite yet but he sure knows how to express himself in other ways. Lately, he's been battling the seat. Thank you for sharing about your experiences it helps a novice mommy like me!

  79. I think you're lucky to have a kid who doesn't fight the straps, even if she complains about them. My friend's daughter wages battle every time they strap her in!

  80. My two-year old doesn't like the straps tight either. He has also managed to get his arms out on occasion, resulting in me having to pull over and tighten the straps even more. We are in the market for a new carseat since my 5month-old will need a bigger one in the next few months.

  81. I just had to tell you how much I respect you for the absolute joy you reflect in being a mother. So many people don't GET it and think that those of us who choose to be full-time moms somehow have a screw loose. You're a fantastic example of the sheer joy mothering can be.

    I'm personally past the baby stage with my children, but I remember it well. And I'm now to a new, and equally rewarding stage (such as being able to have fascinating and wonderful, spiritual, moral conversations at the dinner table). I love being a mom. And I love how you love it. Thanks!

  82. I wish my monkey would start talking ..anything. She is going to wait though until she has clear concise sentences that make perfect sense. Oh well that it fine. I try encouraging her by playing where are we going. I tell her where we are going three times and then ask her where are we going. She only got it right once (she only attempted once) so far but I'll keep it up in hopes of real conversations someday.

  83. I've been car seat shopping for my son who's in the 95% for height for his age...and he's quickly outgrowing his current car seat. Safety 1st is one of the booster brands we're looking at, and it's great to get your first-hand feedback on how your daughter likes it.

  84. so when you say it's not as wide how much of a difference are we talking? like 3 inches or more?
    (don't enter me- we don't need car seats but i was just wondering because space is always an issue in our vehicle)

  85. This will be great for my beautiful little one. What a nice seat and the safety features are right up my alley.

  86. Even though my daughter is only 2 she seems so much like your daughter. Adorable in every way. My friend - so cute!

    This seat looks great and I would love to win this contests for my sister who will be having her first in December. I'm on the look out for a new seat myself though because I know my daughter will still be too small to be in a new seat before her new brother is ready for a new one. This looks good.

  87. Thanks for the review!
    I have a 2 year old who is now forward facing in his Britax Marathon, and I think I may be the only mom on the planet who is not a huge fan of that carseat.
    I'm due any day with our second baby, so it's great to have one to keep in mind for future reference that's not so bulky, with chronically twisting straps and ugly as sin itself. ;)

  88. This looks great! One other nice thing about it is those "wings" look like they'd make for nice built-in pillows on long car trips when the girls are going to nap. :)

  89. I am excited to hear that this car seat is narrower. I have a three year old, his one year old sister, and a 7 year old all in the same row. Right now they fit b/c the baby is still in her rear facing baby carrier seat but she will be outgrowing it soon. When she does, I think I need to purchase the safest narrowest seats I can find for the 3 year old and 1 year old so that the 7 year old will still be able to buckle and unbuckle herself in the booster seat.

  90. Oh what a delightful little girl she is. You're so blessed, Stephanie. I'm sure you know that, though.

    As far as strapping in, my middle son feels the same way. I try and make it where it isn't too, too tight...if you know what I mean, but I want him safe.

    That car seat looks perfect for when Dash is older enough to need a larger seat. It would be a huge blessing to win that one. :)


  91. After a year of having one car seat, we switched to a "safer" but more expensive one. It seems to be sooo much more comfortable for my daughter than her previous one! That alone made it worth the price tag.

  92. My daughter recently got to turn around and face forward in her car seat. It is so much fun to watch her look out the window and take notice of the world passing around her. She happily plays or reads her books!

  93. My three year old is quite the chatterbox when we get in the car...well really any time, but especially in the car. I agree that keeping my kids as protected as possible while riding in the car is the most important thing and this car seat looks really safe and comfortable.

  94. Conversations with 3 year olds are amazing & sometimes frustrating! - Mostly awesome though... We've been looking at getting another car seat as we're expecting another little boy. Thanks for the review of this one.

  95. I am in total agreement with you about 3 year olds!
    They are very intuitive and fun to be around. The interaction between a parent and their 3 year old child is definitely quite special.
    Great post.....Thanks, Cindi

  96. The Missy Moo is just about done with her infant car seat(up to 25lbs). So, it's time to purchase a big girt one. I appreceate your review on the Saftey 1st seat. It sounds like a winner to me. I will check them out at the store.

  97. We were lucky when we bought our van that has a built in car seat for my little one. It is always tight (since it is built in). If we need the seat for someone else, we just fold it up.
    I was glad for this, since the car seat models get outdated so quick we needed to buy another one.

  98. Some of my favorite time with my daughter is our time in the car. She, like yours, is a free spirit, funny, witty, smart, and oh so curious. It is time to put our #2 into a 'real' car seat. He is quickly growing out of the car seat we have been using since he was born! Glad to hear you like this one!!

  99. My granddaughter is 18 months and has learned to unbuckle herself... Any hints?

    I have a niece due in January (single-mom in college) and this would make a nice addition to her car...

  100. I'm due with my first in December and these things could definitely come in handy! I don't drive so I would be giving them to my hubby to use in his car.

  101. Oh, I remember when my best friend's little girl started really communicating. He was so happy that he no longer had to guess at why she was crying (after the typical sleep, food, and clean diaper needs had been met). It was super nice when she got stung by a bee because she could tell them what happened and they never would have known until too late if she hadn't been able to talk!!

  102. That car seat does look very cushy. My husband and I still can't really agree on the best place to put our toddler's car seat. I like it in the middle (I feel it's the safest bet if we were ever hit on the side), but my husband prefers behind the passenger seat for easy accessibility while driving.

  103. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I still prefer the seats to the boosters. They offer more protection, and I don't think you can ever have too much! I would love to have this prize pack!

  104. So many people switch to a booster with regular seat belt the minute it's "legal." My kids will be in a 5 point harness until they are 16. :)

    That car seat looks like a winner. "They" say that car seats "expire" after 5 years. That means we need to look at replacing one of ours...

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  105. My 3yr old son is also a free spirit and dislikes to be restrained. His tunes on the radio and a blanket usually make car trips a breeze. I was just looking into a new seat as ours only goes up to 40lbs with the 5-pt harness. I'd like to keep him in a 5-pt harness for as long as possible. This looks like a great seat.

  106. My daughter also turns 3 next month. Since Day 1, she has hated riding in the car because, like your daughter, she does not like being restrained. How can you fault a free spirit? Thankfully she's grown to accept being in her car seat, but it was not easy.

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