After giving birth to a baby, one of the very first items of your own baby equipment that you will use is your infant car seat. That trip home from the hospital will be the first of literally thousands of rides that your child will take in a car. And you will want to know that he is safe every single time!
Buying a car seat can be quite overwhelming, as there are so many to choose from. How do you know what to look for? What are the important features that every car seat needs to have?
Your child’s car seat is one item on your shopping list that requires really careful consideration. The right car seat, correctly installed, could potentially save your baby’s life in the event of an accident.
Life sometimes throws unexpected and horrific curveballs in our direction. No one ever leaves home expecting to be involved in a car crash. But they happen. Frequently! Statistics prove that a baby or small child who is securely restrained in a safe car seat stands a much better chance of escaping unharmed.
Conversely, those statistics also prove that a baby or small child who is not restrained, or who is restrained in a seat that has not been installed correctly, can be thrown from the vehicle with massive force.
As responsible parents, you will want to be guided on the best car seat for your child, and this is where we can help you. Let us take a look at two popular car seats on the market, the Safety 1st Grow and Go, and the Graco 4Ever.
Breaking it Down
The Safety 1st Grow and Go and the Graco 4Ever car seats are both designed to grow with your baby, from a newborn right up to the stage where they are old enough to be safely restrained with the vehicle’s own seat belt.
The first thing to consider when choosing a car seat is the safety of the seat. Both of these car seats are exceptionally safe and have received excellent reports, after both simulated crash tests as well as real-life accidents.
All moms and dads have, at some time or another, experienced trying to strap a screaming baby or toddler into his car seat. Often the child will resist purely because he is uncomfortable in his seat and knows that it will not be a pleasant ride. For this reason, your child’s comfort is crucial when he is strapped in.
While every parent naturally wants only the best for their precious little prince or princess, we do understand that there are also budget constraints that have to be considered. But, even if you are on a tight budget, you should always buy the very best car seat that you can afford.
Any car seat may have a top safety rating, but it still remains only as safe as its installation. A seat that is complicated and finicky to install is more likely to be incorrectly installed, which could lead to a tragic outcome if you are involved in an accident. Therefore it is vital that installation should be easy and uncomplicated.
The size and weight of your child will determine what kind of seat is required. Obviously, as your child grows from newborn infant to bigger baby to toddler to independent child, his needs will change when it comes to a safe car seat or restraint.
One morning, as you are dressing little Jimmy for kindergarten, you think to yourself, “Those jeans fitted him only last week. I wonder if they have shrunk in the wash?” Well, of course, you know that the jeans did not shrink. Little Jimmy is just not so little anymore.
It’s one thing to buy new jeans every season, but no one wants to have to replace a perfectly good car seat because little Jimmy has outgrown it.
With the Safety 1st Grow and Go, you will not have to buy a new car seat. You will be able to restrain him safely with this seat until he is old enough to use the car’s seat belt.
The safest way for your baby to be positioned in a car seat is with the rear-facing installation. You should aim to keep him rear-facing for as long as possible, as this position offers the most protection.
The Safety 1st Grow and Go is designed to be installed rear-facing for babies from 5 to 40 pounds. It can then transition with your child as he grows, to be used forward-facing up to 65 pounds, and can finally be used as a belt-positioning booster seat for older children, up to 100 pounds.
The Grow and Go has side impact protection, which will ensure that your child is cushioned on all sides in the event of a collision. This seat has been put through rigorous safety tests and exceeds Federal Safety Standards.
- Comfort and Convenience
The Safety 1st Grow and Go has a seat pad that is soft and comfortable. Often kids need to eat or drink in the car. This seat has double cup-holders, so Jimmy can have his juice and his water, but the result can be a grubby car seat. The seat pad and the cover are removable and machine-washable, making it easy to keep the seat clean and hygienic.
The grow-with-baby pillows will give your baby a comfortable ride in every stage of use. The seat can recline in three different positions, and has good head support, making it possible for your baby to sleep comfortably in the car.
This seat is not only comfortable for the baby. It is also great for the adult who is strapping him in. We know how difficult it is to strap a baby in when the straps flop down as you put him into the seat, and he lands up sitting on them. You then have to try to pull them out from under him in order to belt him up.
The Safety 1st Grow and Go has harness holders to keep the straps out of the way as you put your baby in the seat. This makes strapping him in so much easier and quicker.
- Value For Money
The Safety 1st Grow and Go is a middle-of-the-range car seat that offers excellent value for money. Because it is a three-stage seat that will see your child through from a newborn to elementary school age, it is the only seat you will ever have to buy.
One of the many things that we like about this seat is the ease of installation. The instruction manual is clear and straightforward, and you do not have to be a technical genius to install the seat correctly.
This seat is equipped with a QuickFit harness that allows for a one-step easy adjustment of both the harness and the headrest.
The seat is installed using the LATCH system, which is quick and simple to fit. It is also possible to install the seat using the car’s seat belt to hold it securely in place.
Once your child is big enough to use this as a booster seat, (from 40 pounds up to 100 pounds), you need to use both the seat and the backrest. It cannot be used with only the seat and not the backrest.
- Weight Recommendation
The Safety 1st Grow and Go is designed for three stages of use, based on your child’s growth. Stage one is rear-facing, for babies from 5-40 pounds. Stage two switches to forward-facing and is safe for babies from 22 right up to 65 pounds, while stage three is designed to be used as a booster seat with the car’s seat belt, for children from 40-100 pounds.
We know that when it comes to your child’s car seat your primary concern is safety, but you naturally also want a seat that looks attractive. The Safety 1st Grow and Go is a nice looking seat that comes in a wide range of colors and fabrics, and you are sure to find one that will match the interior of your car.
- Easy installation
- Grows with your child
- Harness holders
- Double cup-holders
- Easy to clean
- Good value for money
- A little bulky
- The booster seat cannot be used without the backrest.
Like the Safety 1st Grow and Go, the Graco 4Ever is designed to grow with your child and can be used from that first ride home as a newborn right up to all those trips to baseball practice for the under-10s.
This seat has 4 stages of use. It starts off as rear-facing for tiny babies, can then be switched to forward-facing for bigger babies, will be used as a booster seat with backrest once your child outgrows stage 2, and eventually can be used as a booster without the backrest for bigger children.
The Graco 4Ever has safe side impact protection that is formed by an easy-to-adjust harness, backed by a sturdy steel-reinforced frame, giving your child full protection from the force of the impact in a collision.
This seat is engineered with a Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.
The rear-facing installation in the first stage makes this seat super-safe for babies up to 40 pounds.
- Comfort and Convenience
The Graco 4Ever is an extremely comfortable seat. It is well-padded and covered with breathable fabric to keep your baby cool. The 6-position recline and 10-position headrest mean that your baby will always be comfortable.
The seat pad and covers are removable and fully washable, enabling you to keep the seat clean and hygienic.
- Value For Money
This seat has a fairly high price tag. While it has many wonderful features and will last your child until he can safely use an adult seat belt, it is a lot more expensive than the Safety 1st Grow and Go, which offers many of the same benefits.
The Graco 4Ever is a 4-in-1 convertible seat, with 4 possible installation set-ups, according to your child’s size. It can be both rear and forward-facing, and it can be used as a booster seat, either with or without the backrest.
The Graco 4Ever features an installation system called the InRight LATCH System, with a one-second attachment that makes installation quick and easy.
This seat has an easy to read level indicator which enables you to get the angle perfect, making for a fully safety-compliant installation.
- Weight Recommendation
The Graco 4Ever is designed for four stages of use, based on your child’s growth. Stage one is rear-facing, for babies from 5-40 pounds. Stage two switches to forward-facing and is safe for babies from 20- 65 pounds. Stage three is designed to be used as a booster seat with the backrest, for children from 40-100 pounds, while stage four is a booster without the backrest, for children up to 120 pounds.
This seat is available in numerous different colors and patterns and will be a stylish addition to your car.
- InRight LATCH system for simple installation
- 120-pound weight limit
- 10-position headrest
- Excellent safety rating
- Very comfortable
- Quite pricey
- Very heavy and bulky.
WINNER: Safety 1st Grow and Go
Both of these seats are extremely safe and surpass minimum standards in safety requirements. They will both last you until your child is old enough to be safely restrained by using only the vehicle seat belt.
While the choice of a car seat should not be based on price alone, we looked at value for money in relation to the safety features that the seat offers, as well as overall ease of use.
The Safety 1st Grow and Go offers almost as much as the Graco 4Ever, at a significantly lower price. In this case, ‘cheaper’ most definitely does NOT mean ‘inferior’, and we found the Safety 1st Grow and Go to be an excellent car seat that will keep your precious little Prince or Princess safe, secure and protected while in the car.