Reviews Archive

The Best Car Seats of the Decade! 2010-2019

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Here at CarseatBlog, we like to think of ourselves not just as CPS Techs and Instructors, but also as Connoisseurs or Aficionados of fine child restraint products. Darren, Heather and I have all been active in the field of Child Passenger Safety since the late 1990’s and throughout the last two decades, we’ve witnessed an astonishing wave of safety-related engineering and innovation. Along the way, we’ve learned to appreciate ambitious innovation, exceptional design and outstanding engineering. We’ve seen gems and busts. We’ve seen trends that came and went and those that just took off and changed the game forever. So, what makes a car seat or booster worthy of a “Best of the Decade” nomination? Well, to be honest, it’s totally subjective but greatness often begins when someone dares to think outside of the box, push limits, and ignore the naysayers. To all those rebels out there – we salute you!

We realize that every car seat has downsides but the following products were chosen for recognition because they were either game-changers, trendsetters, incredibly innovative or just ahead of their time!

BEST NEW INFANT SEAT DESIGNS OF THE DECADE

4moms Self-Installing Car Seat – It was only available for a few years before being discontinued but you gotta give 4moms props for innovation. The self-installing car seat created a lot of buzz and gave us a peek into the future of child restraints. Even though they weren’t wildly successful with their first foray into the car seat realm, we hope to see more innovative child restraints from 4moms in the next decade.

Cybex Aton 2  – It wasn’t the first seat in the US to have a load leg but it was the one to popularize this important safety feature and pave the way for others to follow. Thank you, Cybex, for making the effort to bring the load leg to this side of the pond even though our stupid U.S. standards [still] don’t allow you to test with it. And thanks for trusting that American families would take the time to research and educate themselves on this important safety feature. I know it’s still a work in progress but we do appreciate the leap of faith. Lol.

Doona –  It wasn’t the first car seat/stroller combo but it is lightyears ahead of the old sit ‘n stroll that we sneered at back in the day. To their credit, Doona created a unique product that quickly became popular with urban families who rely on taxis and rideshare services. Unfortunately, Doona’s popularity and high price-point has made it a target of counterfeiters. While it has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, that doesn’t apply to dangerous, illegal, knock-off baby gear. Please be suspicious of any “really good deals” and only buy Doona products from reputable retailers. Even Amazon has been selling a lot of fakes through 3rd party retailers lately so don’t assume it’s a real Doona just because it’s listed on Amazon.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock – Game-changer! When Graco introduced their SnugLock infant seat bases in late 2016, we immediately knew that this was going to set a new standard for infant seat base installations. The simple 3-step installation requires almost no effort and yet the result is a secure install with either LATCH or seatbelt. Considering how popular Graco infant seats are, the impact of incorporating SnugLock technology on these bases is undeniable. Way to go, Graco!

Nuna Pipa – Although it wasn’t the first infant seat in the U.S. to offer both rigid LATCH attachments and a load leg (the Britax BabySafe in 2003 had those features), this time around the market was ready to embrace this technology and the price tag that goes with it. Pipa’s 5-second rigid LATCH install set a new standard, making Nuna’s first car seat an instant hit. Recently, Nuna released a new model called Pipa Lite which weighs a few pounds less than a standard Pipa but you lose the ability to install it without the base. Will this start a new trend? Time will tell!

Summer Infant Prodigy – A truly innovative seat that was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, poor choices at Babies R Us led to lackluster sales which eventually led to its demise. RIP, Summer Infant Prodigy. Your built-in ratcheting device and smiley face indicators will never be forgotten!

UPPAbaby MESA “Henry” – Trendsetter! The Mesa is an innovative seat in itself but UPPAbaby gets credit for being the first car seat manufacturer to offer a Merino wool blend cover that is naturally flame retardant. UPPA led the way in developing a cover that meets all flammability standards without adding chemical flame retardants. Thanks to their innovation, several other car seat manufacturers have followed suit. Chemical-conscious parents, rejoice!

BEST NEW CONVERTIBLE/ALL-IN-ONE SEATS OF THE DECADE

Britax ClickTight ConvertiblesA game-changer thanks to some outstanding engineering! ClickTight tensioning and lockoff technology debuted on the Britax Frontier/Pinnacle platform and it really was the greatest thing since sliced bread so Britax knew they had to create convertible seats that would integrate this technology and still offer all the other bells and whistles that parents had come to expect from a Britax convertible. Thankfully, the Britax Marathon CT, Boulevard CT and Advocate CT did not disappoint and new standards for seatbelt installations on a convertible seat were set. All hail King ClickTight!

Chicco NextFit Zip – Chicco gets credit for being the first manufacturer to use an integrated force-multiplying system on the LATCH strap to help achieve a rock-solid install with very little effort. This was a godsend for parents and caregivers who struggled with the usual techniques required to install a convertible seat properly. Suddenly, it was possible for anyone, even an elderly caregiver, to install a car seat like a pro! So, how do you make a great car seat even greater? Add a zip-off cover for easy removal and cleaning. It might not seem like a big deal but as someone who has removed and replaced the cover on almost every car seat made in the last 20 years, trust me – this is a beautiful thing.

Clek Foonf – Clek took a gamble that North American consumers would be willing to pay significantly more for a seat engineered with advanced safety features and that gamble paid off! Foonf was the first convertible seat to rear-face to 50 pounds. It also offers rigid LATCH attachments for forward-facing, an anti-rebound bar for rear-facing, a steel-reinforced frame and a patented energy-absorbing crumple system in the base. Clek pushed the envelope, proving that you could sell seats at higher price points and build a loyal following in the process.

Cosco Scenera NEXTLet’s be real, it’s a lot harder to innovate when you are making a car seat that is going to sell for under $50, so great engineering and design teams have to focus on safety and function. The Scenera NEXT is a shining example of both. This little seat is a workhorse and we are grateful for its lightness and compact size which make it incredibly portable. Every family deserves to have safe and affordable car seat options that are easy to use correctly. Kudos to Dorel for understanding that and working hard to engineer safe products for all budgets.

Graco 4Ever All-in-One – Game changer & trendsetter! The 4Ever became an overnight sensation for many reasons. Never before had there been an All-in-One that was so competent in every mode and so easy to use. Even the name was perfect. In the 20+ years that I’ve been involved in the CPS field, I’ve never seen a car seat rise to stardom so quickly. Clearly, the concept of an All-in-One that had a 10-year lifespan resonated with parents from coast to coast. The Graco 4Ever was basically the equivalent of a walk-off home run in the 7th game of the World Series and it’s become the seat to beat ever since.

Graco Extend2Fit – A seat with mass-market appeal and a reasonable price tag, Extend2Fit also became wildly popular from the moment it launched. With a 50-pound rear-facing weight limit and an innovative legrest extension feature, Extend2Fit quickly became a top choice for parents eager to keep their kids rear-facing beyond the toddler stage. The legrest extension was a brilliant idea since we know parents worry that their rear-facing kids look uncomfortable with bent legs. Even though it’s an unfounded concern for the most part, Graco was smart to address the issue and capitalize on that concern.

Graco Smart Seat – You either loved it or hated it but the concept was brilliant and Graco gets credit, once again, for being innovative. The Smart Seat was a unique All-in-One that took the concept of a stay-in-car base to the next level. It was a novel idea but in this case, the concept was better in theory than in practice because the Smart Seat was a beast of a seat. Ultimately, it was discontinued but it still deserves recognition for engineering that was outside the box. Hopefully, other products with this unique feature will become available in the future.

BEST NEW COMBINATION SEATS OF THE DECADE

Britax Frontier ClickTight – ClickTight technology debuted on the Frontier/Pinnacle platform and it really was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Kudos to the engineering team at Britax for innovating at that level. This was definitely a game-changer and it set a new standard for seatbelt installations. The Frontier and Pinnacle have recently been discontinued and replaced by the Grow With You ClickTight and Grow With You ClickTight Plus which are similar but have lower (65 lbs.) weight limits when used with the harness. Even with the lower harnessed weight limits, these seats are still great but what’s up with the awful naming scheme? Maybe the next decade will bring the return of product names I can actually remember without looking them up every time.

Evenflo Maestro Sport – Every family deserves to have safe and affordable car seat options that are also easy to install and use correctly. The Evenflo Maestro Sport proves that a great combination seat doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s safe, lightweight, easy to use and easy to install. I especially love that you can install it with LATCH until reaching the harness weight limit of 50 pounds. The original Evenflo Maestro model was extremely popular and this updated “Sport” model improves on the original in every way without sacrificing a thing. The Maestro Sport generally sells for under $80 which is nothing short of amazing.

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX  – The original Graco Nautilus model has been around since 2007 and even though it’s still a great combination seat, it was clearly time for an update. In 2018 Graco launched the new generation, Nautilus SnugLock LX and DLX, both of which offer an easy tensioner and lockoff system (aka SnugLock Technology) plus removable armrests and premium push-on LATCH connectors. Since the harness on these seats is rated to 65 lbs. but the LATCH weight limit is only 45 lbs., the SnugLock “arm” helps parents and caregivers achieve a proper installation with seatbelt. Overall, the Nautilus SnugLock LX and DLX models are solid performers that embody all the elements of good design and engineering.

BEST NEW BOOSTER SEATS OF THE DECADE

BubbleBum – This ultra-light, ultra-narrow, highly portable inflatable booster challenged everyone to accept something that was untraditional. Initially, we all wondered, could an inflatable booster actually be safe? Would CPS Techs ever embrace such a product? Would parents buy it? We now know that the answers are yes, yes, and yes! BubbleBum is the little booster that had to work harder than everyone else to earn respect and acceptance.

Chicco GoFit Plus – Let’s be honest, it’s hard to innovate when you’re designing a backless booster. However, Chicco managed to do something that hadn’t been done before and it’s pretty impressive. Quick-release latch connectors are brilliant and useful for families on the go!

Evenflo Spectrum – Its unique design elements combined with enhanced side-impact protection and a budget-friendly price make Spectrum stand out in a crowded field of booster seats. Plus, it’s one of the tallest highback boosters on the market! Cool fashions and bright colors add to the appeal and offer a refreshing break from the usual black and gray (although they offer that too).

Graco TurboBooster GROW featuring RightGuide Seat Belt Trainer – Yes, it’s a mouthful. It’s also the sixth product that Graco has named “TurboBooster” (Can you name them all? It’s possible that I might be missing a few.) But *THIS* TurboBooster is special. Apparently not special enough to get a better name but I digress… This innovative new highback booster is tall, latchable and we love the seat-within-a-seat feature which can be separated to accommodate two kids at once! The compact RightGuide Seatbelt Trainer pops out of the main seat so you can use it to seat a second child (who weighs at least 50 lbs.) for carpooling, playdates, etc., or throw it in a backpack when traveling. The RightGuide Seatbelt Trainer is also perfect for many tweens who just need a small boost in the car to achieve proper fit from the adult seatbelt. Once again Graco gets major props for innovation. But can we please move on to some new names? I’m starting to wonder if they hired George Foreman to name their seats.

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix – Being European doesn’t automatically make you better but in this case, it does. From the lack of armrests (and cupholders) to the rigid LATCH (aka ISOFIX) attachments and recline feature, everything about RodiFix says, “I’m not from around here” in a really cute accent. RodiFix is a unique, high-end highback booster with innovative features that make it easy to install and easy for kids to buckle themselves. But will American consumers accept something that doesn’t have cupholders??? That’s the million-dollar question. Lol.

BEST NEW TECHNOLOGY OF THE DECADE

Evenflo SensorSafe & Cybex SensorSafeAvailable on select Evenflo & Cybex car seats. SensorSafe technology is not just about preventing accidental vehicular heatstroke deaths, the smart chest clip will also communicate to alert the driver if the child has unbuckled their chest clip. This is super handy, especially if your child is rear-facing and you can’t see what they’ve done! The newest version of this technology, SensorSafe 2.0, takes it a step further with a free app that connects to your smartphone. With the app, you receive alerts on your phone if the driver accidentally leaves the child behind in the car, or if the child unbuckles themselves while the vehicle is moving. You also get alerts if the ambient temperature in the vehicle has become too warm or too cold. Additionally, the app offers guidance on installation, how-to videos, FAQs and more.

Looking Ahead to 2020

I think it’s safe to assume that the next decade is going to be full of some amazing new child restraints that will hopefully reduce misuse and continue to raise the bar on safety and innovation. We are already looking forward to the introduction of several new innovative products that we know are coming soon. If you’re curious about what the future looks like, here’s a sneak peek.

Cybex Sirona S Convertible – Available February 2020!

Graco TrioGrow SnugLock LX Review

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2019-2020 Graco TrioGrow SnugLock LX Review

ThatcherGraco took one 4Ever All-in-One carseat, threw it in a container with a lock-off that spins 360°, shook everything up really well, and out popped a TrioGrow SnugLock. Well, not really, but that’s what a crazy carseat geek with a wild imagination comes up with! In all seriousness, Graco has a winning formula with the 4Ever platform: it’s easy to install, easy to use, and fits a wide variety of children. The TrioGrow SnugLock 3-in-1 is a different carseat, though, so as its name suggests, it only offers 3 modes of use: rear-facing, forward-facing, and highback booster. The version reviewed here is the TrioGrow SnugLock LX.

Weight and Height Limits:
  • Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below height adjustment handle
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs., 49” or less
  • Highback booster: 40-100 lbs., 43-57”, at least 4 years old
TrioGrow SnugLock Overview:
  • 360° spinning SnugLock lockoff that acts as a tensioning device for both rear- and forward-facing installations
  • Adjustable base with 3 rear-facing recline positions, 3 forward-facing recline positions, 1 booster recline position
  • No re-thread harness with 10 position headrest
  • Easy-to-read ball level indicator
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • On-board harness storage for booster mode
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Two cup holders
  • Machine-washable cover
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires
  • MSRP $179.99
LX Version Adds:
  • InRight™ (push-on) LATCH
  • Fuss Free harness pockets
  • Rapid Remove cover
  • MSRP $239.99

Thatcher Sonic Leland

TrioGrow Measurements:

Harness height: ~6 ¼” with infant insert*/8” without insert-17 ½ ”
Shoulder belt guide height: 18 ½ ”
External widest point: 19”
Shell height with headrest: 30”
Shoulder width: 14”
Crotch strap depth: inner slot: 2” with padding*, 3 ½” without padding; outer slot: 5 ½”
Seat depth: 12”
Seat weight: 18 lbs. with padding, 17.7 lbs. without padding

*Because of the shape of the infant insert, it was difficult to get an accurate measurement. I chose a spot in about the middle of the padded area from which to measure.

Don’t forget about our comparison database!

Installation:

The TrioGrow installs like a dream: super easy and doesn’t take up a whole lot of room in your back seat. However,

Chicco Fit4 All-in-One Review – Safety & Fit 4 Different Stages!

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2020 Chicco Fit4 Review *Pic Heavy*

Chicco has a solid reputation for making carseats that are safe, easy to use and exceptionally easy to install. I’m happy to report that they continue this legacy with their newest seat, Chicco Fit4, an All-in-One that’s full of the thoughtful details and ease-of-use features that you’ve come to expect from Chicco!

Fit4 is currently shipping to retailers and is already available at Amazon, Target, BuyBuyBaby and baby specialty stores. MSRP is $349.99.

There will be a total of six Fit4 fashions to choose from but some of them may be exclusive to certain retailers. The sample that I have is in the “Element” fashion. Amazon will carry Onyx, Carina & Stratosphere fashions.

You’re probably wondering what makes Fit4 stand out in a crowded field of All-in-One carseats? For starters, the 4-stage “FitKit” system features a series of inserts that provide optimal fit and comfort for each stage of your child’s growth and development. From infant to toddler to preschooler to big kid, Fit4 offers your child optimal comfort and protection as they grow.

The next major advantage of Fit4 is longevity – this seat is TALL which means more growing room before your kids outgrow it!  Last but not least, the SuperCinch force-multiplying system makes it possible for anyone, even an elderly caregiver, to get a rock-solid installation using LATCH.

 

Chicco Fit4 Specs & Features:

  • Rear-Facing: 4-40 lbs., up to 43″ tall
  • Forward-Facing: 25-65 lbs.; 54″ or less; at least 1 year old
  • Booster: 40-100 lbs., 38-57″, at least 4 years old
  • 10-year lifespan before expiration
  • “FITKIT” System – a series of inserts that provide optimal fit for each stage
  • SuperCinch LATCH tightening system with premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • No-rethread harness (10 height positions)
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • 2-position chest clip
  • Lockoffs for rear-facing and forward-facing installations with seatbelt
  • 9 recline positions
  • Liquid bubble level indicator (for RF, FF & Booster mode)
  • Harness, chest clip and buckle all store in the shell for booster mode
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam lines the sides and the headwings
  • Smooth bottom base with won’t damage vehicle upholstery
  • Flexible “CupFolders” are removable and dishwasher safe
  • Machine washable fabrics
  • QR code that links to instructions for the 4 stages
  • MSRP $349.99


Fit4 Stages:

Infant: Rear-facing 4-16 lbs.

Toddler: Rear-facing 12-40 lbs. (remove the Stage 1 infant insert)

Preschooler: Forward-facing 25-65 lbs. (remove the Stage 2 inserts which are only for rear-facing)

Big Kid: Booster mode 40-100 lbs. and at least 4 years old (store the harness and the buckle, put the shoulder belt pad on the seatbelt).

Fit4 Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height setting: 6.5″ with Stage 1 insert (measuring is subjective); 8″ without insert
  • Tallest harness height setting: 18.5″ – 19″ (depending on how you measure)
  • Shoulder belt guide max height (for booster mode): 21″
  • Crotch strap positions: 4″, 6″
  • Seat pan depth (legroom/thigh support): 14.5″
  • Seat width at widest point: 19″
  • Weight: 25 lbs.

Installation Comments:

Installing Fit4 with LATCH:

Fit4 comes out of the box with the LATCH connectors in the rear-facing beltpath and they are visible, not hiding in their latch storage compartment, which is smart. Getting a rock-solid installation with LATCH takes very little effort thanks to the SuperCinch force-multiplying system. Note – when you are tightening the “pull 2nd” latch strap on the SuperCinch side, you can either pull straight up or straight down. I find that in taller vehicles like pickups or large SUVs that it’s easier for me to tighten the latch strap by pulling it straight down. However, in vehicles that are lower to the ground, it’s generally easier for me to pull the strap straight up to tighten it.

Latch Comments: Weight Limits & Other Stuff You Need to Know

Rear-facing – the rear-facing LATCH weight limit is 35 lbs. Once your child reaches 35 lbs., you should install your rear-facing Fit4 with seatbelt using the lockoff.

Forward-facing – you can use the LATCH system in your vehicle (lower anchors and tether) to install the Fit4 forward-facing until your child reaches 40 lbs. If your child weighs between 40-65 lbs., install with the seatbelt using the lockoff. Always use the top tether strap if you have a tether anchor for that seating position.

Center LATCH installations: Fit4 does NOT allow center latch installations with “Non-Standard Spacing” so you can only take advantage of the easy LATCH installations with SuperCinch if you are installing in a dedicated LATCH seating position with standardized spacing (11″).

Moving the LATCH strap from the rear-facing beltpath to the forward-facing beltpath: Open the LATCH storage compartments on the sides of the seat. Make sure both sides of the latch strap are fully lengthened. Shimmy and slide the latch strap into the forward-facing beltpath. Shut the latch storage compartments.

Installing Fit4 with seatbelt:

If you aren’t using the lower LATCH connectors – store them in the little compartments on the sides of the seat.

Rear-facing installation with seatbelt is a little more challenging than using LATCH simply because you have layers of padding on top of your beltpath. Getting your hand underneath all of that and threading the seatbelt through the beltpath isn’t horrible but it takes a little patience. Having small hands definitely helps. Once your seatbelt is buckled, you pull it tight and slide just the shoulder belt portion of the seatbelt into the lockoff. If you are using the lockoff (and you should always use the lockoff if you are installing with a lap/shoulder seatbelt), locking the seatbelt at the retractor is optional. It’s not necessary (as long as you have used the lockoff correctly), but it’s not bad or wrong to lock the seatbelt at the retractor in addition to using the lockoff on Fit4. Note: in the picture below I removed the cupholder so you can see the seatbelt in the rear-facing lockoff better.

Forward-facing installation with seatbelt and tether is relatively easy which is good news because you can’t install Fit4 using the lower LATCH anchors once your kid weighs more than 40 lbs. The lockoffs on Fit4 aren’t really obvious so make sure you understand what and where they are. Again, after sliding the shoulder belt portion of the seatbelt into the lockoff, locking the seatbelt at the retractor is optional.

Fit4 in Booster Mode: 

When your child is ready to transition to booster mode, you store the harness, chest clip and buckle under the cover in little cubbies made specifically for this purpose. Next, you can attach the lower LATCH connectors and the tether (this is optional but if you are using the Fit4 in a seating position that has LATCH then you probably should take advantage of this option). Adjust the height of the booster to optimally fit your child, adjust the recline angle to make sure your bubble level is in the right zone for Stage 4, then add the shoulder belt pad to your seatbelt. Easy peasy! Honestly, it’s easy enough that it wouldn’t be a problem to switch back and forth between harness and booster modes if you were using one seat for different kids.

Fit-to-Vehicle:

Fit4 installs very similarly to a Chicco NextFit and this is excellent news because the NextFit installs well in almost every vehicle. Fit4 doesn’t take up a lot of room rear-facing as long as you don’t need the maximum recline angle required for stage 1. For older babies and rear-facing toddlers, Fit4 can be installed more upright in the rear-facing position which then creates more legroom for the adult sitting in the front seat.

I did run into some issues installing Fit4 in the center of my Hyundai Tucson with seatbelt, but I can’t blame the carseat for that. The center seating position of that small SUV is very narrow and has a detachable seatbelt that comes from the ceiling. It’s a problematic seating position. However, in the outboard positions of my Tucson, as well as in my minivan, it was all sunshine and rainbows.

Fit-to-Child:

I’ve tried multiple children ranging from 14 lbs. to 75 lbs. in the Fit4 and every kid fit beautifully.  Even the 4 pound, 17″ preemie doll fit really nicely with the stage 1 insert and the chest clip in the more narrow position.

Preemie Doll – 4 lbs., 17″. Great fit! Pictured with Stage 1 newborn insert.

3-month-old, 14 lbs., 23″. I tried him with and without the stage 1 newborn insert and he definitely fit better without it. Pictured below with just the stage 2 inserts and the chest clip in the more narrow position.

15 months, 22 lbs., 31″ with Stage 2 inserts and chest clip in wider position.

2 years old, 28 lbs., 34″ with Stage 2 inserts

4 years old, 39 lbs., 41with Stage 2 inserts

6 years old, 37 lbs., 43″ in Stage 3

50 lbs., 48″ tall in Stage 4 – Booster Mode

75 lbs., 55″ tall in Stage 4 Booster Mode

QR Code/Crash Replacement/Inflatable Belts/FAA Approval:

  • Chicco seats should be replaced after any crash (call customer service if you have questions about your situation)
  • Installation with inflatable seatbelts (found in some Ford/Lincoln/Mercedes Benz vehicles) is NOT allowed. Use LATCH if possible or move Fit4 to a different seating position that does not have an inflatable seatbelt.
  • FAA-approved for use on a plane with the 5-point harness (you can’t use any booster seat on an airplane). The FAA approval language is shown below (in red) and can be found underneath the seat along with the label that lists the model number, date of manufacture and expiration date.

Fit4 & NextFit Comparison:

Fit4 is obviously taller and has lower sides because it’s designed to be used as a booster, unlike the Chicco NextFit which is just a convertible seat. Other than that, the seats are pretty similar. They are both about the same width and they both install easily in most vehicles.

NextFit with infant insert & Fit4 in Stage 1 (lowest height settings)

NextFit & Fit4 in Stage 2

NextFit & Fit4 in Stage 3 (max height settings)

NextFit & Fit4 side-by-side (max height settings)

Fit4 Advantages:

  • Fits a wide range of children very well – from small newborns to big kids in booster mode
  • 2-position chest clip provides optimal harness positioning on small babies and big kids alike
  • Great seat for extended rear-facing (for kids under 40 lbs.)
  • Very tall top harness height setting should get most kids to the point where they are big enough and mature enough to transition to a booster
  • Super easy installation with LATCH using SuperCinch
  • RF & FF lockoffs for seatbelt installations
  • 9 recline positions practically guarantee a perfect recline angle in almost any vehicle
  • Easy to tighten and loosen harness straps
  • Harness straps are not prone to twisting
  • It doesn’t take up a lot of room rear-facing (especially if you don’t need the full recline for a newborn). This makes it a good option for smaller cars and for tall parents who may need to have the front seat all or most of the way back.
  • Premium fabrics with extra padding for comfort
  • Harness and buckle store in the seat when Fit4 is being used in booster mode
  • Can use LATCH in booster mode
  • Cover and inserts can be machine washed in cold water (delicate cycle, mild detergent, hang to dry)
  • Smooth bottom base won’t damage vehicle upholstery
  • Instruction manual is clear and well-written
  • QR code links to concise information

Disadvantages:

(In all fairness these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Fit4 issues)

  • Heavy & bulky
  • Due to regulatory LATCH weight limits, you must switch to a seatbelt installation once the child weighs more than 35 lbs. rear-facing or more than 40 lbs. forward-facing (not a big deal since you have lockoffs for easy seatbelt install but not quite as easy as using LATCH with SuperCinch)
  • Rear-facing installation with seatbelt is not as easy as a LATCH installation. It’s harder to thread the seatbelt through the beltpath with the Stage 1 & Stage 2 inserts in place. And since Chicco does not allow center LATCH installations with non-standard LATCH spacing, you will likely need to use the seatbelt to install Fit4 in the center seating positions of most vehicles (unless you are lucky enough to have dedicated lower anchors for the center).
  • Made in China (to be fair, I should point out that many other high-end carseats are also made in China)

Conclusion:

All-in-One carseats continue to be an extremely popular choice with parents so I wasn’t surprised to learn that Chicco was working on one. I just crossed my fingers and hoped that the Chicco wizards would work their usual magic. Thankfully, the wizards did not disappoint and I hope they all get a raise, a new wand and an extra week of vacation time for their efforts.

For parents who prefer to skip the infant seat but are worried that a convertible won’t be a good fit if their newborn is small or arrives early, Fit4 will offer peace of mind. Even if you are using, or plan to use, an infant seat first and then transition to a convertible once the baby is a little older – the longevity, ease of use and easy installation features of Fit4 make it a great option.

It’s hard for me to pick my favorite Fit4 features because there are so many things about this seat that are awesome but I do love me a seat with a harness adjustment “like buttah” and Fit4 definitely earns that badge. It’s also nice that you have recline options in each stage (as long as you stay within the zone of the angle indicator). Even in booster mode, you are able to have Fit4 reclined a bit as long as you are within the range dictated by the angle indicator. Also, there is one feature that you probably won’t appreciate until you transition from rear-facing to forward-facing. That’s the point where you will shed the Stage 2 inserts that basically cover the entire seat. And when you peel off that layer, you will have a beautiful, clean, like-new seat underneath! If you don’t have kids yet, you might think that’s not a big deal but trust me after a couple of years of use, it’s going to be a significant bonus to have that fresh start with your trusty Fit4. 🙂

We have a video here comparing the Fit4 to the Chicco NextFit Convertible:

For more information on Fit4, check out the official Chicco webpage: https://www.chiccousa.com/fit4/

 

Thank you to Chicco for generously providing this Fit4 sample for review. The opinions and comments are entirely those of CarseatBlog.

2019 Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT Infant Carseat Review

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2019 Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT Infant Carseat Review

If you’ve driven around for any period of time, you have probably seen a sign on a car signaling that a baby is in the back seat. The most iconic of these, which also happens to be the original, is the yellow diamond Baby On Board sign by Safety 1st. Not only did this sign give birth to the rest of Safety 1st line, which has such a wide array of products that it can be found in the home of almost every family with an infant, but it’s also given its name to a new high quality, affordable infant seat- the Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT. Do not confuse this seat with the other Safety 1st onBoard infant seats on the market. The “LT” model is an entirely different seat with its own base – it is NOT compatible with the original onBoard or onBoard Air model bases.

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OnBoard 35 LT Height & Weight Limits:

  • Rear-facing only 4-35 pounds, 19-32 inches and child’s head is at least 1 inch below the top of the seat

OnBoard 35 LT Overview:

  • The onBoard 35 LT is one of the lightest rear-facing-only infant car seats with a smooth and comfortable carry handle
  • 4 harness heights to provide an excellent fit for a variety of different sized babies
  • 3 crotch strap/buckle positions with newborn routing to fit even small newborns
  • Newborn support inserts with separate head and body cushions
  • Cover is machine washable AND dryer safe!
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft
  • On CarseatBlog’s Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples
  • 8 year lifespan from date of manufacture before expiration

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the seat were the labels. Safety 1st has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about and designing their labels and the outcome is great. Their labels are clear, concise and well placed and I could install and use the seat without ever cracking open the manual because of these labels (I’m not recommending this, but for those people who won’t read a manual regardless, this is great!). There’s even a label with a QR code so you can get information instantly on your phone. The onBoard 35 LT base has labels for where the belts go, as well as labels for baseless installation. I was generally impressed with the thoughtfulness Safety 1st clearly had when designing this component of their seat.

OnBoard 35 LT Measurements:

  • Harness slot heights: 5.5”-11.5”
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions: 3”, 4.5”, 6”
  • Internal shell height: 19.5”
  • Width of base: 15.5”
  • Length of base: 23.5”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17.25”
  • Carrier weight: 7.9 pounds