Baby H loves to sit up. He loves to stand up. He loves most anything as long as he is upright. He also is a tank, weighing in the 98th percentile for his age.
You may be wondering how these things correspond, but these factors were our two main reasons for kicking our old click-in infant car seat to the curb and giving the Sunshine Kids Radian80SL Convertible Car Seat a try. The little man didn’t want to be all folded up into the bucket seat anymore, and Dad and I were having a heck of a time toting H around in it. (20 pounds of baby + 10 pounds of car seat = too much weight to be carrying around by that awkward handle)
A convertible car seat to be left in the vehicle while H was toted around via stroller or carrier seemed like a logical solution. So right off the bat, we awarded the Radian80SL an A for convenience. But not having to tote around the pumpkin seat isn’t even its most convenient of features (though at this point in our lives, it was what initially attracted us). The Radian80SL is most notably a narrow car seat. And by narrow I mean that you can fit three of them side-by-side across the seats of most vehicles, including most 4-door sedans. How cool is that? While three car seats across is not a feature we plan on needing anytime soon, we enjoy the fact that two passengers can sit in the back seat with H without being completely crammed.
The next most convenient feature is the Radian80SL’s compatibility with the SuperLATCH system. Yes, I said SuperLATCH. The “Super” means that you can safely continue to use your vehicle’s LATCH system until your child hits 80 pounds (which for some of us—cough, baby H, cough—may come sooner than later). Its the Radian80SL’s steel alloy frame that allows it to safely surpass the typical 48-pound maximum use for LATCH systems. (Of course, you can always use your vehicle’s seat belt to install the car seat too, if you’d prefer.) Yet another convenient feature: The Radian80SL uses the 5-point harness system in both the rear- and forward-facing positions. This means that you (or your tot) don’t need to hassle with all that thread your car’s seatbelt over this and under that and snug across their lap jazz. All you need is some minor adjustments as your little one grows and three simple clicks and you’re all set to go.
On the subject of installation: The Radian80SL installs in a couple minutes. When it first arrived, I pulled out the instruction manual right away. After having read it cover to cover twice, I realized I still didn’t quite understand how it all worked. I’m chalking this one up to being overwhelmed/nervous about the prospect of installing my son’s car seat for the first time (his first car seat was installed by my amazing momma while we were in the hospital after he was born). I had it in my head that it was a complicated, mathematical process that I wasn’t quite ready to take responsibility for. It was my son’s life at stake after all—I had to do this right, but I didn’t even understand the manual.
Thankfully, once I pulled the seat itself out of the box, looked at the pieces, re-read the manual, the obviousness of all of it smacked me right in the face. It took approximately two minutes to strap it all into place. I only got hung up initially because I was mentally prepared for the worst. But with Sunshine Kids you can rest assured it’s not the worst. In fact, I’d rank it up there with the best.
Weighing in at 26 pounds (thanks to that super sturdy steel alloy frame I mentioned before), the Radian80SL is a bit heavier than most car seats. But because we intended to leave it in the car (as in, take my car for all outings with H instead of switching it back and forth between my car and Dad’s), we’re not really concerned. I was afraid our tune may be changing come holiday season when we take a plane trip to visit my parents. However, to help ease our travel woes, Sunshine Kids makes a Radian Travel Bag ($30) that allows the foldable car seat be carried over the shoulder, as a back pack, or safely checked at the airport. Perfect!
Overall, I would abso-stinking-lutely recommend the Sunshine Kids Radian80SL Convertible Car Seat to friends and family. It fits our lifestyle, keeps H more upright (the way he likes to be), and keeps him safe and snug as we run around town.
(Side note: When making our initial decision to get a car seat compatible with our stroller, perhaps we were a little too one-track-minded to see any other options. I think our decision was the best for us at the time, but in the future, I could definitely see benefits of using a convertible car seat from the get-go rather than switching six months into this adventure of parenthood. There’s something extremely appealing about making a single car seat purchase that will last through baby’s entire 5 to 80-pound car seat-riding days.)
To buy: skjp.com