The Child Safety Seat for New Grandparents

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hi. As you can see from the picture, we’re having a baby. ..Wait, I need to explain.

By “we,” I mean my daughter and her husband. And that’s not the baby in the picture. It’s my daughter’s Cabbage Patch doll that my wife insisted we save, in the warehouse we call our basement, for our grandchildren. It’s been a while. I had no idea cabbage would keep that long.

I’ve been using the doll to make sure I know how the car seat works. It comes with a 68 page manual. The one we got our own kids years ago had a sticker that said, “Insert baby here,” with an arrow. “This end up.”

The seat we bought is a top-of-the-line Britax (pronounced with a long “i”) Convertible infant protection system. Very impressive. Car seat technology has come a long way since my kids were little kids themselves. I have two, by the way. One of each. (“Hey, Son.”) The model is the Advocate 70 CS. Yes, “Advocate.” Not only is this seat going to protect my grandson in the event of an accident, it actually sues whoever hits us. In retrospect, I feel bad. By comparison to the 70 CS, my wife and I, who bought the best car seats available at the time, might as well have been strapping our children to the hood of our old Volvo with duct tape.

No kidding. This thing’s really impressive. After exhaustive research into design, crash test data and recalls, I called my daughter to make sure it was okay to buy this particular model. “Sugar,”.. I know, I know. Don’t you hate it when parents have nicknames like that for their kids? The day she was born, it made perfectly good sense. Thirty years later, now that she’s a retired champion Sumo wrestler, not so much. ..Just kidding. She’s gorgeous, proving that even beautiful women can have successful wrestling careers. (In fact, she’s a writer and sells books at the best, if not the biggest bookstore in Manhattan.) Anyway, I reassured her, “if my grandson is in this car seat, and another meteor like the one that killed the dinosaurs strikes the earth, he’ll be the sole survivor.” Level voiced and absent any reaction to my feeble attempt at humor, her response was matter of fact. “That’s the entire idea, Daddy.” Hmm.

Protect “the kid” at all costs. So my wife and I splurged and bought the Advocate 70 CS which has, it turns out, more “crush zones” that the Subaru Outback he’ll be riding in when he visits us. (Don’t believe me? Go to, and watch the video for yourself.) It’s so safe, my wife and I are thinking of getting two of them for ourselves.

You’ll notice, from the picture and video, that the seat is basically a rip-off of those NASCAR driver’s seats. You know, the car loses control, flips several times before hitting the wall and careening back across the track into the infield, and the driver – imagine my grandson wearing sponsor logos all over his bib – gets out without so much as a chipped tooth. Maybe I’m overdoing it, but that’s what I want for my grandson: A NASCAR sponsor to help pay for the Advocate 70 CS.

We did, at least, draw the line when it came to accessories. We passed on the cup holder, for example. No kidding, there’s an optional cup holder. For what, a sippy cup? And we declined the “International Security Option.” The option includes two ex-Navy Seals, one to sit next to my grandson, the other to run along the outside of the car, and a fashionable camouflage “onesie.” Very nice, but too expensive and a bit over-the-top even for me.

Are we overdoing it? Sure. Does it feel good? Absolutely. The thing is, while the Advocate 70 CS comes with a 68 page manual, our grandson, and being a grandparent, doesn’t. It seems we’ll just have wing it, relying upon the old standards, love and common sense. Fortunately, my grandson will be exceptionally bright and will be able to read at birth. Yes, at birth. “Hey, Doodad,” which, unbelievably, is what my daughter wants him to call me, “Need help installing my car seat? ..Gimme that manual.”


6 responses to “The Child Safety Seat for New Grandparents

  1. East Coast Mimzy

    This article is spot on! But wait until you go to buy a stroller to keep at your place for visits…….same kinda thing!

  2. Hi, Mimzy. Thanks for your comment. Just to set the record straight, once you get past its 68 page manual, the Britax Advocate 70 CS is really easy to use. ..Oh, and I’m beginning to think you may be right about the strollers, particularly the ones with the bassinet option for newborns. We’ll see.

  3. Roslyn Zozzie Golden

    I enjoyed your article on car seats. I am a first time grandmother of Jack who is 9 months old ( . The first time I went into Bye Bye Baby (likes Babies R US) I stood there panic stricken…there was just so much of everything. When my daughter asks what it was like when she was a baby I told her I went into Toys R US, there were 3 types of strollers and I picked one…now there are hundreds. Just wait till you want to buy your grandchild pyjamas….there are the organic kind, the kind that should fit snuggly, the non retardant pyjamas and on and on. Enjoy every moment, it’s wonderful. Roslyn Zozzie Golden

  4. Hi. (You too, Jack.) Thank you for your comment. I’m just beginning to realize how large The New Grandparents Club must be. This really is exciting stuff. It’s “The Baby Boomers, Gen 3.”

    You’re right. There are a lot more choices. I need to hurry up and figure all this out before my grandson, still a few weeks away, leaves for college. Please don’t hesitate to stop back. My wife and I can use all the advice we can get.

    By the way, my daughter and her husband live on the top floor of a six story walkup. That’s “walkup” as in “no elevator.” Whatever we pick out, it’s got to be light.


  5. East Coast Mimzy

    While I am not a new grandparent (we dote on Hayden (5 1/2 ) and more recently Aubrey (7 months), our little princess is my first experience with a girl. Having grown up the only girl with 3 brothers, and then having 3 sons, it is almost foreign for me to have a granddaughter. People told me “Oh, you’ll love going shopping for her – so many more choices than for boys!” Complete understatement. My first venture into the girls section of the baby department at Target (or Tar-jay for those who long for something more upscale) resulted in pink overload! Everywhere I looked – pink sleepers, pink bibs, pink booties, pink blankets, pink binkies, pink diapers, PINK PINK PINK! And lace embellished almost everything – socks, dresses, pants – even the little velcro barrettes. Don’t forget those stretchy lace headbands with a sweet little bow complete with a ribbon rose. All those hair thingys reminded me that I had better brush up on my ponytail application techniques, even though Aubrey is currently sporting the old Annie Lennox (of the Eurithmics – possible spelling error there) look, but as a strawberry blonde. I even got my old Barbie dolls out of the attic so I could practice braiding. Then I remembered I should probably know how to French braid, too. Which raises the question – do the French “French braid” too? Or do they just “braid”? Sorry…..I know I have ventured off on a tangent. It just seems like its sooooo much harder to have a grandchild than it ever was to have a child.

  6. Hi. Jeez, I like pink. ..Just kidding. Pink’s okay, and it is 2011 so I guess the old color-gender stereotypes don’t mean as much, but it does seem like there is more stuff out there for baby girls than boys.

    As for it being harder to have a grandchild, I think time tends to be kind to memories. I’ve been trying to define my strategy as a grandparent. I keep thinking the smartest thing I can do is remember that I’m still a parent and that helping my daughter and my son-in-law is my first priority. Spending time with my grandson, teaching him stuff and learning what he has to teach me, is just one, huge, wonderful bonus.


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