Just like a careful parent, I was looking for the best car seat reviews. It’s my strong belief that a car seat for any little one is a necessity, not an optional accessory or a legal requirement. This is also something what the different admirable manufacturers of the car seats believe.
As a result, there is now a substantial competitive market for car seats. Herein, several manufacturers are providing the most comfortable, easiest to use, and safest car seat for the little ones. They conduct rigorous crash tests and other safety tests to confirm their products’ reliability and durability.
When it comes to choosing baby products, several parents prefer sticking to a single brand. I am also one of them. Well, there are many justifications for such an inclination. Sticking to a single brand gives baby products that are compatible with each other, especially if they belong to the same series. Further, most of these products have multiple uses and some common functionalities.
Graco is among the most popular brands for baby products. One of their baby products famous for high quality and safety standard is Graco car seats. This is exactly what makes me loyal to search for the best Graco car seat review in 2017, after doing so in 2016.
Why Choose Graco Car Seats
The brand has been around for more than more than five decades, managed to stay ahead in terms of creativity and safety, and has been admired for its high-quality products. Apart from that, the brand is recognized across the world for the following too:
- Rigorous testing to meet or exceed the FMVSS safety standards for a safe ride, right from babyhood to childhood
- No worrisome heavy price tag
- Unparalleled convenience of moving with the little one without dealing with the twisted seatbelt at the rear while getting in and out of your car every time
- Certification from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA)
- Easy access to replaceable parts
- Easier maintenance than those of other brands
- Available in different patterns and themes
- Safety standards ensuring durability of up to seven years
- Handy for multiple children
Obviously, no parent would ever think of but let’s assume a scenario wherein a sudden car accident on a busy road suddenly alerts you. This is the critical time when you just want to take your little one out of the vehicle quickly and safely.
This is what a Graco car seat and its base ensure by simply unlatching the seat and removing the baby from the car in no time. Well, this is what I have experienced.
What is a Standard Graco Car Seat Like?
- Often more affordable than several other top brands
- Compatible with the brand’s strollers to form a travel system
- Featuring a five-point harness, not impact shields
- ISOFIX and belt installation available
ISOFIX is also known as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), which is a safety mechanism used instead of the car’s seat belts. It holds a series of lower and upper tether straps at the seat’s bottom. These tethers are affixed to the anchors in your car and are safer than seat belts.
What Are the Types of Car Seats Available?
Before you go ahead and invest in one of the best Graco car seats, it is essential for you to know which type of car seat is suitable for your baby. A good rule of thumb is to check the safety features that are as per your child’s height and weight for choosing the best model from the collection of a specific type. Here are the types that you are likely to come across:
Infant Car Seats
These are rear-facing seats, which are capable of accommodating a weight of up to 22 pounds. However, a few modern models can safely endure 35 pounds (16 kg). An infant car seat is the first type you need for the newly born or an infant. This is because it is in the rear-facing position, which is safest for just born ones. This position keeps the seat nicely secured in the rear seat and protect from air bags if there is an accident.
The neck muscles of infants are weak due to which the seat’s rear, not the chest of the baby, takes up the force in case of a collision. This is exactly what a rear-facing car seat does! It has enough space for a head positioning pillow, which takes care of the neck while the child is sleeping. It also has a removable base so that you can easily and safely take the small one with you when she or he is sleeping.
Recommended: Until a minimum age of 2 or until the baby outgrows the maximum weight or height limits of the rear-facing car seat.
Front-facing Car Seats with 5-point Harness
A front-facing model is the next type you will require for the little one. Acting as a shell of protection, this seat is ideal for budding toddlers. It can accommodate from 4 to 65 lbs. of weight. To be sure, however, always check the information on the car seat before making the purchase to help ensure that you are getting the safest one.
Recommended: Until the child outgrows the maximum weight or height limits of a front-facing seat or until 5-7 years of age.
Booster Car Seats
A booster seat is what you will need after a front-facing car seat when your kid starts going to school and weighs at least 40 pounds. However, you should not rush in shifting from a front-facing model to a booster, as the kid is safest with a 5-point harness.
You should consider several factors while switching to a booster seat, such as the child’s age, height, weight, and habits. A kid is ready for a booster when she or he can sit comfortably while asleep and straight when on a ride. This is when the vehicle’s seat belt snuggly fits the kid. Booster seats facilitate more freedom in terms of mobility. They can feature either a high back or only a seat base, which you can choose as per your preference.
As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), booster seats are for kids who are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall as well as 8 years old.
Convertible Car Seats
As the name suggests, these seats tend to switch between rear-facing and front-facing modes. These makes them ideal for both toddlers and babies. The rear-facing mode can endure up to 40 pounds and the front-facing one up to 70 pounds.
These seats tend to transform so that they can adapt to the growth of your child and protect them at every stride. A few models come with 3-in-1 capability. They are special car seats that transform from front-facing to a booster seat for safely accommodating young school children and older toddlers.
Still, it is safer to keep the little one in the rear-facing mode for as long as possible. For buying this type of seat, which is a more feasible option, it is wise to find out the lower weight limit.
Unlike an infant car seat, a convertible one is more durable as well as expensive. If you choose the latter option, you also need not research again once the infant car seat is no longer suitable for your child. Regardless of which of the two you are buying, you need to consider the weight and height of your child. If you wish to spend affordably and wisely, a convertible car seat can be your ideal option.
Top 5 Graco Car Seats
Now that you know about the different Graco car seats available, it’s time to know about the most popular ones in the market today. Here are top 5 of them:
1. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat, Rear-facing
For infants weighing 4-35 lbs. and having a height of up to 32 inches
This seat is perhaps the lightest car seat from Graco’s seat collection for infants. This gives you the biggest benefit of transporting the small one quickly from home to anywhere in between. A convenient, LATCH-attached base ensures a hassle-free installation.
It comes with the reliable Click Connect technology for attaching to any Click Connect stroller in just one step with the ‘click’ sound. This makes the product an easy-to-convert travel system. A 5-point harness system adjusts from the front, which makes it super easy to take the small one in and out of the seat in your car.
The car seat also comes with an energy absorbing foam for efficient handling of energy, removable head support and six recline positions for giving proper head support and soft cushioning to the newborn, and removable boot offering comfort to your small one while on the ride. Further, a rotating canopy protects the baby from the sun if at all you need to go out with her in afternoon.
Further review: its little brother - Graco SnugRide 35 Elite Review
- Ultra-light (less than 10 lbs.)
- Very easy to install even without the shipped base
- Convertible into a travel system in just one step
- Easy to use, quick to move
- 1-hand adjusting harness
- Proper support and cushioning for baby’s head
- Protection from the sun
- Available in different patterns and colors
- Open canopy and handle in carrying mode not possible simultaneously
2. Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
- Babies weighing 4 to 40 pounds, as it has a rear-facing mode
- Toddlers weighing 20 to 65 pounds, as it has a forward-facing mode
- Older kids weighing 30 to 120 pounds, as it has a booster mode with high back mode (30 to 100 pounds) and backless mode (40 to 120 pounds)
This one is by far the most practical option to choose, as it is usable for the next 10 years of your newborn. That’s because it is an all-in-one convertible seat available at an affordable price.
The 10-position headrest and the Simple Safe harness facilitate a proper fit by taking suitable adjustment together. While the 6-position recline maximizes comfort for your child, the InRight LATCH makes installation simple with just a single-step attachment.
The seat is fully covered with a cozy padding fabric of high quality and with detachable inserts that you rely upon as per the kid’s size and comfort level. A high back booster seat provides additional support to bigger kids even if they weigh 120 lbs.
With this convertible model, there is no need to bother about comfort or safety, as both are well balanced for a reliable ride.
- Lighter in weight at 22 lbs.
- Easy installation with push-on LATCH connectors or with the seat belts
- Easy to adjust straps
- Adjustable harness without rethreading
- Copious padding
- Ample height in the headrest
- Washable seat cover
- Cup holders
- No canopy for giving shade to the child
3. Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
- Toddlers weighing 22 to 65 pounds and having a height of 27 to 49 inches, as it has a forward-facing mode
- Older kids weighing 30 to 100 pounds, as it has a booster mode with high back mode (for 30 to 100 pounds and 38 to 57 inches) and backless mode (40 to 100 pounds and 40 to 57 inches)
This one is a combination car seat, not a convertible seat. This is because you cannot use it in a rear-facing mode. The seat transforms from a forward-facing seat into a high-back as well as a backless booster.
While all Graco car seats meet the U.S. safety standards, this one goes a mile further to keep a balance of both comfort and safety. It is tested to prevent side impact, peak crash force, and extreme interior temperatures.
Unlike all other seats fulfilling side-impact testing criteria and effective energy handling with reinforced steel, this one inherits them with plush comfort features such as an integrated cup holder and storage compartments.
There is also a one-hand 5-point adjustable headrest that maintains the smile on the face of your growing child even during the longest ride.
Some more appealing features include a 5-point harness system, comfy 3-position reclining ability, and open-loop belt guides that position the seat belt safely while in the high back booster mode.
- An assortment of safety features
- More affordable than other popular brands such as Britax
- Easy to install
- Versatile due to compatibility with most car models
- FAA-approved for use in an aircraft
- A bit tough to use buckles while setting it up
4. Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat with Latch System
- Kids over the age of four, weighing 30-100 lbs., and having a height of 38-57 inches, which is suitable for the high back mode
- Kids weighing 40-100 lbs. and having a height of 40-57 inches, which is suitable for the backless mode
This high back booster seat is designed in style and offers cozy features that most kids will rejoice in. It fulfils the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which is to have a belt positioning booster seat for kids who are 4 feet 9 inches tall or below.
The seat easily converts into a backless booster for several years of use.
I highly recommend this seat, as it is an IIHS ‘Best Bet’ and ranked second in Consumer Reports’ ratings, the first being the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1. Some of its salient features include fully adjustable multi-layered headrest, open-loop guide for a precise belt positioning, and a secret storage compartment. For the price at which it is available, it is perhaps the best value booster seat from Graco.
- Lightweight and portable yet strong
- Ease of installation and cleaning
- Steady for easy self-buckling
- Great support in the adjustable headrest
- Storage compartment at a side
- Latch flexibility
- Removable cloth and back
- Dual cup holders
- 10 years of lifespan
- Not well padded seat
- Little short in height as compared to a few other high back boosters
- Stuck seatbelt in the guide (although not so frequent)
5. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Infants below 2 years, weighing 4-50 pounds, and requiring a rear-facing seat
- Toddlers weighing 22-65 pounds and requiring a forward-facing seat
This car seat is unique in the sense that it offers a legroom of extra 5 inches. This is because it comes with the most favorable Extend2Fit Technology with a 3-position panel, which contributes to an extendable base.
As a result, your growing small one can feel more comfortable and safer than any other rear-facing seat. At the same time, it is easier for me and you to get the little one in and out, due to the Fuss Free harness keeping the buckle away.
Another commendable feature is the Simply Safe harness mechanism that adjusts the height of the headrest without rethreading the straps.
- Highest rear-facing weight and height limits
- Distinct arrangement for added rear-facing comfort
- Washable cover
- Latch flexibility
- Cup holders
- Difficulty in removing the cover
- Lacks lock for seat belt
Through the small reviews of Graco car seats, it is clear that the brand cares about the comfort and safety of your child as much as you do. They not only ensure topmost safety but also make your life during traveling a bit easier. You are surely not going to lose anything with these car seats.