Another beautiful Baby Trend car seat- but does it have function and comfort?
The Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat has great design and really promising features. The flex loc technology allows for easy installation into the car. The car seat has superior safety ratings and has a sleek design. But Baby Trend dropped the ball again on the buckling system and handle, which can be a nuisance to use.
What Does Flex Loc Mean, Anyways?
This car seat has quite a fancy name. My first question was: what does the flex loc refer to? Here’s the scoop.
Flex Loc explained. What this means is that the part of the latch straps that actually attaches to the latch anchors in the car are flexible. They have a sort of bendable arm hook that makes it quick and easy to hook onto the anchor. Plus, once tightened, the flex loc arms move and adjust to allow for that perfect, secure fit.
The Flex Loc made our list of the top infant car seats this year!
It can be tough to get tight. Like other Baby Trend car seats I’ve seen, this one was still difficult to get really tight into the car. The flex loc design made it easy to get the base hooked in, but getting it sturdy was another question. I had to put all of my weight on the base toward the back of the seat and pull as hard as I could on those latch straps to get the base in tight. Even then, I notice it wiggles sometimes, and I have to retighten it. Still, once it is tight, it feels very safe.
All About that Base
I personally love car seat bases. My husband and I make sure we have a base for each vehicle, so we never have to worry about the car seat being properly secure. The Baby Trend Flex Loc Infant Car Seat has an amazing base.
Adjusts to 4 levels. With my first kid’s car seat, figuring out how to get the car seat at the proper angle was a guessing game. It had some printed on guidelines on the side, and we’d eyeball it and adjust the back of the seat to get it in the ballpark of where it needed to be for safety reasons. This car seat has taken all of the guesswork out of the safe angling.
It adjusts to 4 different height levels by clicking the base down or up. This is easy to do and could even be done one-handed if you’re feeling lucky. Plus, there is a level indicator on the side that clearly shows you when you have the right angle for your child’s size.
Less bulk, more car space. This car seat, and the base especially, seemed smaller than other car seats I’ve dealt with. Smaller in a good way, of course. I have no doubt that a bigger baby could fit comfortably, and yet the base didn’t take up half the back seat and extend out into the front seats. Since the car seat is only 16.5 inches at it’s widest spot (which is the handle), the base is slim and makes putting multiple car seats in the car a breeze.
Seat Growing and Releasing
Now that we are educated about the base and car installation, let’s look at how we get the seat out of the car and how the seat itself works. Because you’ll be un-clicking and adjusting that seat nearly every day for quite some time.
Easy out. The way you release the car seat from its base is sort of unique with this infant car seat. Instead of the typical release latch behind the baby’s head, this one has the release latch located by the baby’s feet. This is awesome for smaller cars where the head part of the baby’s car seat might be smashed into the front seats. However, not so awesome for most other cars.
It’s not that it’s hard to do, but you have to shove your hand down in between the edge of the car seat and the seatback to get to the release latch. Once you get your hand there, it clicks out quick and easy. So, it might take an extra two seconds to squeeze your hand in to release the car seat, but it isn’t too bad unless you’re in an uber hurry.
Big babies welcome. A major plus of this seat is that it can hold babies that are just 5 tiny pounds all the way up to 30 pounds. The height limit is 30 inches. As a mommy of big babies, that makes me happy. That tells me that we can easily reach the 1-and-a-half to 2-year mark in this car seat.
Note for those tiny babes, though- there is no extra padding around the head for the newborns. And since you can’t buy any infant padding direct from Baby Trend, you’ll have to take a gamble and buy extra padding somewhere else (but that’s not safe, since that padding hasn’t been crash-tested!). Your best bet for a smaller baby is to find a car seat with more padding or, in the worst-case scenario, use some rolled up blankets on the side of baby’s head.
How-To & Style Video
Okay, now to one of the most important parts: car seat safety. There is literally no point in buying a car seat that gets poor safety ratings. After all, what would even be the point of an unsafe car seat? Baby Trend’s Flex Loc Infant Car Seat doesn’t disappoint.
EPS foam. The padding used in the car seat is called EPS foam. This stuff is amazing. It’s super force absorbent and really lightweight. It provides superior protection in the case of a car crash. Plus, Baby Trend added extra padding for the best side impact protection. No worries about baby safety with this well-built seat.
Ah, the harness system. This is a point of contention for me with Baby Trend products. I’ve yet to meet a car seat by Baby Trend that had a great harness system. And while this one does have a few redeeming qualities, it still has some issues that will leave parents frustrated.
5 point protection. A 5 point safety harness is a must with a car seat. It’s the absolute safest way for any child to be restrained in the car. I do like the safety of the harness in the Flex Loc car seat. Once I get it all figured out and situated, it’s a nice sturdy safety belt. However, it’s the getting it situated that is a pain. Here’s what I like about the harness:
- No rethreading harness straps to grow: This is such an amazing feature. Little babies just grow so fast! I found with my son that I had to readjust the straps on pretty much a monthly basis. This car seat allows you to simply turn a knob on the back of the car seat, and you can move the straps up or down. It was easy to do and such a wonderful feature.
- One-handed tightening and release: in the front of the car seat, near the baby’s feet, is the strap tightening mechanism. All you need to do to tighten the harness straps is pull the strap in the front. To loosen, just push the button in and pull on the harness. It’s easy, and you really and truly can do it with one hand.
Here’s what I don’t like about the harness:
- Hard to buckle: This is a big one since moms are so often in a hurry. In order to buckle the chest straps into the bottom buckle, you have to stack the two buckles and insert them into the bottom buckle. This is fine when the baby is small and immobile, but try stacking the buckles to click into the bottom with a fussy and teething 10-month-old. Not. Fun. And not doable with only one hand.
A Handle for Mom’s Back and Arms
I didn’t understand the delta-shaped car seat handles when I first saw them. I thought, “Oh, how bulky and annoying!” And then I used one with my sweet niece. And now I’m a convert. They are so cool! You can easily grab or hold the handle no matter when positioning the car seat is in.
My favorite part of those triangle handles is that when you are holding the car seat on your forearm, it doesn’t dig in like a regular handle. The triangle distributes the weight to save your arm from harm.
Won’t scratch or irritate arm. In addition to being really ergonomically friendly, the handle is covered in a soft rubber material. This helps absorb extra stress and really makes sure that it is comfortable when you are hauling it around. I wish they would cover the other parts of the car seat with this awesome stuff so that my legs wouldn’t get scratched up either!
Handle is hard to move. So now that we know how lovely the handle is when it’s upright, let’s talk about moving it back for baby extraction. The two release buttons on each side of the handle that allow you to move the handle are really tough. You have to muscle those handles in and really give the handle a good shove to move it back. Same thing happens when you need to put it back upright.
Weighty. The car seat weighs 9.45 pounds, according to the manufacturer. This might not be so kind on mom’s back and arms. But since this car seat is sleeker and less bulky shape-wise, I’m willing to take a 1 or 2 pound hit on the weight, compared to most car seats.
Extra: The Boot
Giving this car seat the boot sounds like a really bad thing, but it’s actually a sweet little perk. If you live where it gets chilly, this extra allows you to give your bambino some extra warmth. It’s like a thick blanket that can be attached to the bottom of the car seat to cover the baby’s body and give some extra insulation. If you happen to live somewhere where it isn’t that cold, the boot comes off easily and can stay off without the car seat looking like it’s missing anything.
- 4 stars, 62 reviews- Target
- 3.5 stars, 4 reviews- Kohl’s
- 4.4 stars, 7 reviews- Walmart
- 3.5 stars, 2 reviews- Babies R Us
Ease of Use Ratings
Car seats sold in the United States are safe. They meet or exceed federal safety standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates each car seat on Ease of Use because injury is more likely to be caused by improper installation and usage than by the seats themselves.
The Baby Trend Flex Loc infant car seat received an overall rating of 4 stars.
- Flexible tether straps for easier latching
- Smaller, sleeker car seat and base
- Adjustable base for proper safety
- Ample weight and height limit
- Very safe
- No rethreading to adjust straps
- Great delta handle
- Tough to get the base tightly latched
- Strange positioning of the release hatch
- No infant head padding
- Harness is hard to buckle
- Handle takes lots of muscle to move forward or backward
- Car seat is heavy
The Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat is overall a good purchase. It’s a really safe car seat with a gorgeous and sleek size and design. The flex loc straps and adjustable base make it safe, while the handle and boot are great extras. The frustrating aspects, like the awkward placement of the release latch from the base, the hard-to-buckle harness, and the stiff handle movement, can be lived with. If you want pure ease of use in your seat, then maybe you should research other options from Graco or Evenflo. But if you have an eye for design and safety and don’t mind a tad bit more time and effort, then this car seat is a great choice.