We have decided on the Chicco Keyfit 30....yea the great debate is finally over!!! And we will be buying new unless someone I know and trust is looking to sell theirs. (and seriously if you are please send me a message).
I did some internet research and received so much advice about the BIG car seat decision via Facebook that I feel like it would be prudent to share the great advice:
Infant Seat Suggestions From NAM (North American Motoring, a MINI community)
Orbit Baby G2 (one review says the stroller fits well in a MINI too but its really beyond my price point)
My sister-in-law suggested the Chicco based on a friends experience of being in a serious crash and having no injuries to the baby (thank goodness for them), which they then replaced with a Britax and then had another serious crash and also no injury to the child.
Another reader suggested the Graco SnugRide 32s, which I believe has been replaced by the Graco Snugride 35 Her comments were as follows:
"We have used Graco SnugRide 32s. We have never been in an accident, so I don't know about it holding up during one. All of my kids were in the NICU and that was recommended by the NICU nurse who was the resident expert in car seat safety (as was the next step up car seat mentioned below). You should start with an infant seat and keep it rear facing even after the child turns one (if they aren't super tall) and then move it forward facing when the time comes. Rear facing is hands down the safest position for the child to be in, in the event of an accident. At some point when you move up to the next step once the child has been forward facing in the infant seat for a while (I'd have to check on the guidelines for this), Britax Marathon is the way to go. Oh and I would suggest never using a gently used car seat unless you get one from someone you know and trust and can guarantee that the seat has never been in an accident. Hope this helps!"
A friend who also ahs a MINI in her family suggested the following:
"As a mom that has a husband driving a MINI, let me recommend the Chicco KeyFit 30. I will also recommend community. babycenter.com. This is an online community with some really great information. There is a Car Seats Question board which is a great place to learn all about carseats. I never knew half the stuff I do had it not been for Babycenter. Did you know carseats expire? Stay away from a gently used one unless you know the person from whom you are getting it. Once a seat has been in a car that has had an accident, it is no longer a good seat and needs to be replaced."
Another friend who has two young children suggests the following:
"Get an infant seat bc you will be able to carry your baby around in it when it falls asleep in car. Seriously, this is a big deal. Sometimes, the only way we get the girls to sleep was by taking a car ride. They snap right into the car: do the straps inside the house instead of doing it outside in the rain, snap the car seat on the base. Voila!. Also, it's so easy to carry baby in it vs taking out of convert., especially when little. It's so snuggly, a lot of babies like being in their seat. Some strollers allow you to put baby in stroller with infant seat. This is best for their backs/necks for a long time. They don't recommend babies ride in a stroller without infant seat until they can sit (6-8 mo). Grocery shopping? Infant seat in cart."
I am so thankful for all the advice and resources available. I feel so relieved that this decision is made, now to buy the darn thing!!