Is this stylish Graco convertible car seat worthy of it’s great reviews?
The Graco Milestone All-in-One Convertible Car Seat has received rave reviews for it’s near perfection as a convertible car seat. It has superb safety, a great latching system, a harness and headrest with thoughtful and useful design, great comfort, and the ability to grow with your child. The harness may have some flaws and the size and design have their own small issues.
Growing Up with Baby
This car seat wouldn’t be appealing unless you were trying to make it one of the last car seats you’ll ever buy. And since this is supposed to be an all-in-one, it can make the dream of ending car seat shopping become a reality.
Truly all-in-one? When I hear “all-in-one” concerning a car seat, all I can think is that this car seat better get my child through elementary school. Now this car seat might be more aptly labeled a 3-in-1. It won’t really meet some of the needs you’ll have for a child restraint system from birth until full-grown status. Here’s why.
First, it’s not the best infant seat I’ve ever seen. It can technically fit a 5 pound baby, but I think that I prefer traditional infant seats myself. This seat seemed too big for a wee baby, and the recline wasn’t as far back as I think baby would like.
It is also not the only Graco convertible car seat, there are several more good options.
Second, it doesn’t become a backless booster. Granted, you’ll only be paying about $50 for one of those when the time comes, so this is still a good buy compared to some of the 4-in-1 car seats out there. But those are my qualms with it’s all-in-one claim.
Stages. The 3 stages that I mentioned above are a rear facing car seat for babies 5 to 40 pounds, a forward facing car seat for babies 20 to 65 pounds, and a belt-positioning booster for kids 30 to 100 pounds.
If you truly use this car seat from the time you bring your baby home from the hospital until they’ve reached the weight limit for the belt-positioning booster, you’ll have gotten a lot of mileage out of this thing. Even if, as I mentioned above, you use it from about age 1 up until age 6 or 8, it’s still an amazing buy and keeps you from purchasing a car seat for at least 5 years. That sounds good to me.
Converting the seat. This seat is easy to get from stage to stage. For the first stage, you just install the seat rear facing, recline it back, and keep the cushy infant padding in. In stage two, just ditch the padding, adjust the recline, switch the belt feed from rear to front facing, and install the seat to face the front of the vehicle.
For the final stage, you remove and store the harness, remove any extra padding, and adjust the headrest up to the very top. It’s all so simple and really easy to do. Plus, the instructions that come with the seat on how to do this are crystal clear.
Straight Up Safe
It’s tough to research the best car seats. There’s no one place to go for safety ratings for car seats. Every consumer website or retail review page has their own favorite, anyways. So let’s look at the safety aspects of this car seat and I’m sure you’ll decide for yourself that it’s one of the safest.
Meets all safety standards. It should be pretty obvious that all car seats sold in the US and Canada have to meet federal safety standards in order to be sold in the public market. Like all Graco car seats, the Milestone is SafeSeat engineered and tested to meet all the standards. It has been approved in crash testings for side, rear, and forward impact at 2 times the national standard.
Plus, the frame has steel, which makes it quite sturdy and reliable in the case of an accident. It also puts the car seat at about 22 pounds, which is not heavy, but it’s not exactly light either. Finally, it’s temperature tested for both hot and cold climates. Graco covered all of their safety bases with this one.
InRight Latch system. A safe car seat is no good unless it’s properly installed in your vehicle. Graco decided to use the InRight latch system with the Milestone convertible car seat. The latch hook has an audio cue to let you know when it’s clicked in.
Graco says that you can safely install the car seat in one second, but I don’t know about that. When I latched it rear facing using the lower anchors, heard the click, and got it as tight as I could, it was about 10 seconds in. It took just as long for the forward facing install. But, it still felt a little wobbly to this paranoid mama with just the lower anchors and the tether because it’s so tall and my back seat is sort of angled upward. I just couldn’t seem to get it tight enough! So I decided to use the seat belt (locked into place) and the upper latch anchor tether instead of the lower latch anchors and the top tether. After that, it was extremely secure and I had no doubt that it was safe.
A Happy Harness
Twisted straps, tricky buckles, loose straps, a bent chest clip… I could go on and on about the potential problems with car seat safety harnesses. The Milestone harness, however, is awesome. Graco really thought through all the parent headaches when designing this child seat belt system.
Adjusting the harness. This is one of the coolest features of this car seat. The headrest and shoulder straps for the harness are connected, so all you have to do to move the straps up is to hold the handle at the top of the car seat and pull the headrest and shoulder straps to the right height. No re-threading straps! And with 10 different positions, it’s really easy to get the right fit.
This Simply Safe Adjust harness system really impressed me. I’ve struggled with getting straps right for my tall but muscular toddler many times. This car seat made getting comfy straps a breeze. Did I mention that there is absolutely zero strap re-threading???
Adjusting the harness to loosen it is a different story. I wish that it wasn’t so easy! You push the strap release button on the front to get the straps to loosen. It seems like each time I do this, it gets easier and easier. That makes me question if one day my kiddo will be able to pull the straps loose on his own. Not the safest thought.
Sweet storage. This is something I’ve struggled with when using my own convertible car seat. What am I going to do with the five point safety harness when I don’t need it anymore? Store it somewhere that I’ll never remember? Duct tape the straps to the back of the seat somewhere? Graco solved this problem for me.
The Milestone has an incredible storage compartment for the harness when it’s no longer in use. You just lift up the padding behind the child’s back to expose the plastic cover to the super secret compartment. Easy to get to and easy to use. I love it!
We’ve covered the obvious points of car seats: safety, convertibility, installation, and the ever-important harness. But what about everything else? Let’s look at the little things that Graco did to keep the babies and parents in mind.
Cushy insert. This is what makes this car seat suitable for smaller babies. It has a soft and squishing padding insert that goes in to help support baby’s head and neck and body. Like I mentioned before, this padding is great, but I don’t think it would work for a baby as small as 5 pounds. An 8 pound baby would be just fine in this car seat, but the smaller babies wouldn’t be as secure. Still, the padding is lovely because it’s removable and machine washable.
Machine washable padding. Speaking of machine washable, the rest of the padding comes off so it can be thrown in the washer too. If you’ve ever had a child who got car sick or had a potty training accident in the car seat, you know how wonderful this feature is! The padding was reasonably easy to remove and reattach, so the headache of cleaning up a car seat mess in minimized with the Milestone.
4 Position Recline. The Graco Milestone All-in-One Convertible Car Seat has 4 different recline positions, 2 each for the front and rear-facing modes. This is what makes it able to help accommodate such a wide range of ages. Even if your older toddler doesn’t want to recline on a daily basis, it comes in handy for road trips or surprise car naps. One word of caution: when installed rear facing, the recline handle at the bottom of the car seat gets a little harder to access. Just make sure you have the recline adjusted before baby gets in to avoid a hassle.
Move-able drink holder. I personally love the fact that the cup holder is moveable. On my son’s old forward facing car seat, the cup holder was on the opposite side of the car from me and was in between my son and the car door. It made it hard to reach and hard for him to get in and out without spilling his drink. This drink holder is movable from one side to the other so you can put your kiddo’s drink right where you want it. Plus, it’s a decent size, so it could probably hold most sippy cups and even some slimmer bottles for the younger years.
- 4.8 stars, 194 reviews- Walmart
- 4.9 stars, 143 reviews- JCPenney
- 4.8 stars, 160 reviews- Kohl’s
- 4.9 stars, 100 reviews- Sears
- 3 great stages
- Safe design
- Simply Safe Adjust harness with storage space
- Machine washable padding
- Reclines and has drink holder
- Too big for smaller babies
- Straps loosen easily
- Needed to latch and strap it in for security
- Recline button hard to access in rear-facing position
Ease of Use Ratings
Although safety should always be a leading concern when it comes to our children, you shouldn’t obsess about the safety differences between car seat brands. They are required to pass strict federal safety tests before being sold in the US market.
However, getting the installation or usage of a car seat wrong can introduce safety issues. That is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues ease of use ratings (see below) for each car seat. The easier to use and the clearer the instructions, the more likely your child is to be buckled up properly every time.
The Milestone in rear-facing mode received 3 stars as you can see in the table below.
This car seat really impressed me. The Graco Milestone All-in-One Convertible Car Seat has all the safety features I want. The latch system helps the car seat to be anchored nice and tight. The adjustable harness and headrest was so fun and convenient to use, and I love the harness storage compartment. I also like the machine washability, the cushy padding, the recline, and the move-able drink holder. The problems I did find, like the ability for the straps to loosen over time and the limited access to the recline button when rear facing, were minor. I don’t think any of these are deal breakers. Add the good features to the cute design and the reasonable price, and the Milestone is a smart buy for any parent.