2023 Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 Infant Seat Review
Graco has taken their reliable, easy-to-use rear-facing only infant SnugRide carseat line and upgraded it to the SnugFit line. What does SnugFit mean? It’s Graco’s anti-rebound base (if you’re unsure what an anti-rebound bar on a base accomplishes, we have this article that explains everything), plus all the carriers have a no-rethread headrest so it’s a simple squeeze of a handle to adjust the harness height. There are plenty more features to these infant seats, so let’s see what they are. We review the base model here.
SnugRide SnugFit 35 Specs & Features:
- Rear-facing only: 4-35 lbs.; 32″ or less and head must be 1” below top of seat
- 4 harness height positions
- 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™
- Made in China
- MSRP $169.99
Extra SnugRide SnugFit bases with SnugLock are available for $119.99. If you want another base for less money that doesn’t have the anti-rebound bar on it, the SnugRide SnugLock base is great for $89.99. The SnugRide SnugFit 35 will fit on the SnugLock base and the SL base has the same ease-of-install!
There are 8 versions of the SnugRide SnugFit 35:
- SnugRide SnugFit 35 (reviewed here) MSRP $169.99
- SnugRide SnugFit 35 LX MSRP $199.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness
- SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX MSRP $229.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness with larger headrest, Rapid Remove seat pad
- SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX ft. Safety Surround MSRP $229.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness with larger headrest, Rapid Remove seat pad, Safety Surround side impact head protection
- SnugRide SnugFit 35 Elite MSRP $269.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness with larger headrest, Rapid Remove seat pad, cold weather boot
- Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 Elite MSRP $299.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness with larger headrest, cold weather boot
- Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT MSRP $319.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness with larger headrest, privacy drape
- Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT ft. Load Leg MSRP $349.99: 5-position SnugLock base, bubble level, InRight LATCH, 1-hand adjust handle, no-rethread harness with larger headrest, privacy drape
SnugRide SnugFit 35 Measurements:
- Harness slot heights: 6 ¾”, 8 ¾”, 10 ¾”, 12 ¾”
- Lowest harness slot height with body insert: 6 ¾”
- Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 4”, 5 ½”
- Internal shell height: 20”
- Length of base footprint: 17” (80% must be on vehicle seat)
- Width of base at widest point: 14”
- Width of carrier at widest point: 17 ½”(outside of handle)
- Carrier weight: 8.4 lbs. with insert; 8.2 lbs. without insert
Recline angle indicator – There is a pendulum recline indicator on the side of the base. Bases with SnugLock have bubble levels. 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).
Center LATCH installation with non-standard LATCH spacing: Allowed if vehicle manufacturer allows it and lower anchor spacing is 11” or greater.
Installation with seatbelt – The SnugRide SnugFit 35 reviewed here is relatively easy to install with a seat belt; however, this base-model 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.
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 SnugFit 35 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 that you’re going to be riding in.
With the Euro method, the lap belt also goes through the belt path across the top of the carrier, but 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. However, if you have a buckle that is flush with the vehicle seat, the shoulder belt tends to slide down off the back of the carrier and under the seat. In this instance, I would install it using the American method with the shoulder belt not routed behind the carrier.
Handle – The handle may be in the upright position in the vehicle: pop the carrier in the base and go. If you choose to put the handle down, make sure it’s in a locked position, not moving at all.
Body Support Insert
The body support has a weight limit and must be removed when your child reaches 12 lbs. As you can see in the pics above, the SnugRide SnugFit 35 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 20″ doll pictured above.
The crotch buckle can also be shortened to make fit better for very small babies—see the 2nd preemie pic. From under the carrier, grab that buckle anchor and pull it through the front slot. It’ll look like a J—there are instructions on how to do it in the instruction manual.
Cover/Ease of Use/Maintenance:
The SnugRide SnugFit 35 cover is on shower cap-style. Because the harness is non-removable, you’ll need to remove the canopy in order to lift it off over the front of the seat. It’s pretty easy to do. The cover for the headrest slips off for separate cleaning. 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.
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.
One thing it also adds is tension to the harness when the baby is shorter, which makes the harness tougher to loosen and tighten. The nice thing about an infant seat is that you can grab the harness from behind and pull the slack out, then pull the harness adjuster tail on the front of the seat more easily. But overall that’s a pain, I know. As your baby grows taller, it will get easier, I promise. It’s a combination of the harness rubbing against the height adjuster mechanism on the back of the seat and friction from the headrest holding the harness lower. It won’t harm the harness, so strike that off your list of things to worry about. 🙃
To clean the harness, you can use a washcloth dipped in a bowl of lightly sudsy water (original blue Dawn or Dreft—something gentle), then wipe it off with a wet washcloth and lay flat to dry. DO NOT wash in the washing machine or use chemicals on it. This means sprays, wipes, or essential oils. Set it in the sun to remove smells. If you find mold, toss the seat. It’s toast.
- FAA certified for use on airplanes
- 7 year lifespan before expiration
- Must be replaced after any crash
To find a stroller compatible with the SnugRide SnugFit 35, head on over to the Graco website and follow the Products link to Strollers. All Graco strollers accept the SnugRide SnugFit 35.
Adapters for are available for use with certain strollers from Baby Jogger, phil&teds, Mountain Buggy, BOB, Joovy, Bumbleride, and UPPAbaby; however, Graco does warn in the owner’s manual not to use a stroller without the Click Connect logo. 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 SnugFit 35 Advantages:
- Lightweight carrier
- Thick EPS foam
- Euro belt path allowed when installed without the base
- 4 recline position base
- Fits preemies well
- 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
- Large canopy
- Easy to remove cover
- Cover is machine washable
- Compatible with many brand strollers
Disadvantages: (In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific SnugRide SnugFit 35 issues)
- Infant inserts could be more substantial
- Base model lacks lockoff device for super easy seatbelt installations
- LATCH strap can be very difficult to loosen if tightened to “rock solid” installation standards
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 out and about that you shouldn’t copy yourself?
- DO NOT 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.
- Remember that the rear-facing only infant carseat is a safety device, not a safe sleeping space
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 once your baby is taller and the headrest has been moved up, and it’s likely that you can find a stroller to meet your needs to use with your SnugRide SnugFit 35 if you desire a travel system. The Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 is a great rear-facing only infant seat that provides excellent features for a fantastic price.
For more information on the Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35, visit Graco’s website: https://www.gracobaby.com/car-seats/infant-car-seats/
Thank you to Graco for providing the SnugRide SnugFit 35 sample for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.