Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Review

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Graco has a new SnugRide version: the SnugRide 35 Lite LX. Graco has had the SnugRide since before my 20 year old son was born, so they’re experts in creating an infant carrier that works. They’ve been through multiple versions including the original, Classic Connect, Click Connect, and SnugLocks. Now we have the SnugRide 35 Lite. What makes this version Lite? Is the carrier lighter in weight? Let’s start by looking at the features.

SnugRide 35 Lite LX Specs & Features:
  • Rear-facing only: 4-35 lbs.; 32″ or less and head must be 1” below top of seat
  • 4 harness height positions
  • Euro belt path allowed when installed without the base
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Easy to remove cover is machine washable
  • 4 recline position base
  • FAA-approved for use in an airplane
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration
  • Graco ProtectPlus Engineered™
  • Click Connect and SnugLock compatible
  • MSRP $99.99

SR 35 Lite LX Studio SR 35 Lite LX Hailey SR 35 Lite LX Astin SR 35 Lite LX Brody

The carrier actually isn’t any lighter than previous versions of the lightest SnugRide 30. There are 2 versions of the SnugRide 35 Lite: the $99 version SnugRide 35 Lite LX, reviewed here, has upgraded soft goods, such as a separate head and body support, and an easy-to-read recline indicator on the side of the base. The regular $89.99 SnugRide 35 Lite version has a single piece body support and a level line on the side of the base to judge recline.

So why is it “lite”? The price, of course! For under $100, it lacks some creature feature things like harness pads and a base with a lockoff, but you won’t miss them.

If you need an extra base, SnugRide Lite bases are available for $30.99, BUT for one dollar more, I highly suggest buying a SnugRide SnugLock base. The SnugRide 35 Lite LX will fit on the SnugLock base and the SL base is easier to install because of the lockoff (seriously, do it—it’s a buck)!

SnugRide 35 Lite LX Measurements:
  • Harness slot heights: 6 ¾”, 8 ¾”, 10 ¾”, 12 ¾”
  • Lowest harness slot height with body insert: 5 ¾”
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 4”, 5 ½”
  • Internal shell height: 20”
  • Width of base footprint at belt path: 13 ¾”
  • Length of base footprint: 17” (80% must be on vehicle seat)
  • Width of base at widest point: 14 ½ ”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17 ½”(outside of handle)
  • Carrier weight: 7.4 lbs. with insert; 7.0 lbs. without insert
Fit-to-Vehicle:

Recline angle indicator – There is a recline indicator on the side of the base. There is also a red level line indicator sticker on each side of the carrier. The recline indicators on the carrier are not visible when it’s seated correctly on the base.

Installation with LATCH – It’s always easier to install with LATCH if you loosen the LATCH strap all the way first, then pull the slack back through the belt path while pushing down on the base. SnugRides have always been easy to install rock solid with LATCH and that’s my preferred method of installation if installing outboard. Though one thing to know about is that Graco LATCH straps can be difficult to loosen if over-tightened; I’d leave a smidgen of movement at the belt path for that reason (remember, an installation is considered acceptable if it moves less than 1” when you tug on it at the belt path, though it’s super easy to get it rock solid with LATCH).

Installation with seatbelt – The SnugRide 35 Lite LX is relatively easy to install with a seat belt; however, this seat does NOT have a built-in lockoff so it’s very important to understand how your seat belt locks if you’re going to install with seat belt instead of with lower LATCH anchors. All vehicles made after 1996 have seat belts that can lock in some way to hold a carseat tightly in place during routine driving. Most vehicles have switchable retractors but some vehicles or specific seating positions have locking latchplates instead. It’s important to know what your vehicle has and to understand how these features work before you install this carseat with a seat belt. See your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific information on how to install a carseat in your vehicle using the seat belt. If you have questions, please visit our car-seat.org group and we’ll be happy to help answer them.

The biggest issue I’ve had installing this base is that sometimes the buckle stalk is too long and causes the latchplate to sneak up into the belt path. This can be a problem because it may interfere with the carrier sitting on the base properly. Twisting the buckle stalk up to 3 full twists, using as few full twists as possible, will usually solve this problem.

Center LATCH installation with non-standard LATCH spacing:

Graco allows LATCH installation in the if vehicle manufacturer allows it and lower anchor spacing is 11” or greater.

Inflatable Seat Belts

Graco has determined that none of their bases can be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company and Mercedes vehicles. You must use LATCH to install a SnugRide base in these vehicles. However, if you choose to install your SnugRide without the base, you may use a Ford Motor Company inflatable seat belt to do so.

Installation without base – The SnugRide 35 Lite LX can be installed safely without the base using the typical American belt routing method OR the Euro method. Using the American method, the carrier is secured directly to the vehicle with the lap portion of the seatbelt (do NOT place the shoulder belt through the belt path). This is very handy if you’re traveling by taxi or airplane. No need to lug the base around with you! However, you have to know how to lock the seatbelt in the vehicle in which you’re going to be riding.

With the Euro method, the lap belt goes through the belt path across the top of the carrier and the shoulder belt routes behind the back of the seat instead of resting against the back of the vehicle seat. This usually ensures a very stable installation where the seat stays more upright in a frontal crash.

Fit-to-Child:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these are the only models I could scrounge up. I’ve given up on the couch cushion.

Head and Body Support Inserts:

 

Both the head and body support have weight limits and must be removed when your child reaches 12 lbs. We’re always quite concerned about maintaining an open airway for the child, so if the head support pushes the baby’s head forward at all, remove it since it’s separate from the body support. As you can see in the pics below, the SnugRide 35 Lite LX fits the preemie doll well with the rolled washcloth in the crotch area to prevent sliding down. Blankets or other padding should NEVER be added behind a child, no matter what. It also fits average newborns well, like Romeo, my facial-haired 20″ doll pictured below as well.

If choosing the SnugRide 35 Lite for a preemie, I would suggest going with the regular version as opposed to the LX. The single piece head/body support has less chance of pushing a delicate head forward than the 2-piece set does. You can also remove the head piece portion of the LX and keep the body piece in to help with fit, but many parents don’t like that floppy head look (I assure you, a properly adjusted base won’t let your baby’s head flop all over the place! Inserts are a relatively new phenomena in carseats.).

If you add the head support back in to the seat, thread the velcro strap through the harness slots above the slots currently being used for the child.

When using the bottom two harness slots, the harness must be attached to the metal splitter plate using the upper loops, which makes the harness shorter. When using the top two harness slots, the harness must be attached to the splitter plate using the bottom loops, making the harness longer for older children. The labeling on the bottom of the carrier is very clear—so awesome!

Cover/Ease of Use/Maintenance:

The SnugRide 35 Lite LX cover is on shower cap-style, but you will have to slide the harness straps through the slots to remove it. I suggest taking a pic with your phone of the splitter plate on the back of the seat so you remember how to put the harness back on when it’s time to rethread the harness. No need to remove the canopy—just shove it all the way back. Machine wash gentle cycle on cold and air dry. If you’re in a hurry, roll it in a towel and place in front of a fan and it shouldn’t take too long. Follow the same instructions if your canopy needs to be cleaned.

The cover harness slots don’t line up with the harness slots in the shell, which can lead parents to route the harness through the wrong slots in the shell as they re-thread the harness. As long as you are cautious when re-threading the harness, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Speaking of re-threading the harness . . . one feature of carseats that most of us deem very desirable is a no re-thread harness. It’s a great feature: press a button or lift a tab and lift or lower the head wings to adjust the harness height as your child grows. However, it adds two things to a rear-facing only infant seat: price and weight. When your child gets close to 20 lbs., that extra pound or two added to the weight of the carseat for the mechanism of adjusting the height, something you only do every couple of months, may not be that important of a feature to you.

To clean the harness, wipe with a wet washcloth and lay flat to dry. DO NOT wash in the washing machine or use chemicals on it.

FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines:
  • FAA certified for use on airplanes
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration
  • Must be replaced after any crash
Stroller Compatibility:

To find a stroller compatible with the SnugRide 35 Lite LX, head on over to the Graco website and follow the Products link to Strollers. All Graco strollers accept the SnugRide 35 Lite.

Adapters for are available for use with certain strollers from Baby Jogger, phil&teds, Mountain Buggy, BOB, Joovy, Bumbleride, and Contours. Some parents prefer not to create a travel system from the start and use a stroller frame, putting off buying a bigger stroller until their child is older, which isn’t such a bad idea. This allows you to spend more time researching your likes and dislikes and hear from parents who have spent the big bucks on their strollers already to realize that spending over $300 may not necessarily be such a bad idea (wish I had put more money into a stroller when my kids were young!). The Graco SnugRider Elite is a stroller frame that is compatible with all Graco infant seats. The Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX claims to be compatible with *all* infant seats. Both run about $100.

Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Advantages:
  • Very lightweight carrier
  • Thick EPS foam
  • Euro belt path allowed when installed without the base
  • 4 recline position base
  • Click Connect and SnugLock compatible
  • Fits preemies
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Well-padded
  • Large canopy
  • Easy to remove cover
  • Cover is machine washable
  • Compatible with many premium brand strollers
Disadvantages:

(In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific SnugRide 35 Lite LX issues)

  • Lacks a no-rethread harness—which really isn’t a big deal for a rear-facing only infant seat, it just means that you have to detach the harness from the splitter plate and route the straps through the next set of harness slots as baby grows. The trade-off is that the harness is very easy to tighten and loosen, and the carrier is lightweight.
  • Infant inserts could be more substantial
  • Lacks lockoff device for super easy seatbelt installations
  • Harness slots in cover don’t line up with harness slots in shell
  • Made in China
Basic Infant Seat Safety

Infant seats are so commonplace that parents often copy what other parents are doing with their seats. I know my husband and I did and that can be dangerous, especially when misuse rates top 90%. I’ve already covered some of the basics above regarding fit to your vehicle and child. So what do you see at the grocery store that you shouldn’t copy yourself?

  • Don’t put the carrier on top of a shopping cart
  • Whenever the child is in the carrier, always buckle the entire harness and tighten it
    • Some parents unbuckle the crotch buckles when in a store or will only buckle the chest clip when buckling in baby, but that piece of plastic is not designed to withstand crash forces. Babies can also wiggle down in the seat and strangle on the chest clip.
  • Don’t leave the child in the carrier to sleep
    • Studies have shown that babies desat, or have a reduction in oxygen when they sleep for too long in infant seats.
Conclusion:

Graco has been making the SnugRide for years and years now and has it down to an art with their rear-facing only seats. The carriers are lightweight and the base has a belt path that’s been designed so that even if you install it with a lap/shoulder belt, it’s unlikely to have the dreaded tilt that used to plague the original SnugRides. The harness adjuster is smooth and reliable and it’s likely that you can find a stroller to meet your needs to use with your SnugRide 35 Lite LX if you desire a travel system. The Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX is a great rear-facing only infant seat that provides excellent features for a fantastic price.

 

For more information on the Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX, visit Graco’s website: https://www.gracobaby.com/en-US/Infant-Car-Seats/snugride-35-lite-lx

Thank you to Graco for providing the SnugRide 35 Lite LX sample for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.

 

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