Editor’s Note: The newest Slimfit is 2″ narrower than the one in this article. See our review of the newly released Graco Slimfit3 LX 3-in-1.
When it comes to innovations, the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat is just one product we have Graco to thank for. The company gave us the first automated baby swing, the first portable play yard, and the first car seat travel system. Now, Graco is offering us a slim car seat that is going to save all of us parents so much valuable real estate in the back seat!
The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is an all-in-one car seat that will protect your child from birth up until 100 pounds. It starts off rear-facing and then transitions to forward-facing and a belt-positioning booster seat. It may be the only car seat you ever need to buy, but should you take that leap?
Important Benefits of the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1
Space-Saving Slim Design
We’ll start off with the most important benefit of this car seat. This will be the reason you’ll want to buy this seat over any others. It was designed to be slim and save space in your car!
It’s not exactly a secret that most car seats are bulky and, like an invasive plant species, will eventually take over your car’s entire backseat. Graco heard all the groans of aggravation and released a convertible car seat with a smaller footprint.
To achieve this slimmed-down shape, Graco added dual rotating integrated cupholders. On each side of the seat, there is a cupholder that will swivel in to save 10% more space.
The extra 10% could be all that stands between you and fitting three car seats in your back seat. Oh, did I mention that this car seat can fit three-across? The Holy Grail, mamas!
If you have three children who all need some form of a car seat, most car seats aren’t small enough to squeeze three-across. You could also be dealing with the three-seat issue for years – by law, kids need to be in a booster seat until they are over 4’9″. You’ll need some sort of plan or a slim car seat that can fit three-across! Well, look here! The Graco Slimfit has you covered.
Grows with Child
With a newborn baby, you have two car seat options: an infant carrier car seat or a convertible car seat. Both have their pros and cons. The biggest pro of a convertible car seat is that it will be the only car seat you’ll ever buy, as it grows with your child.
If you’re in the convertible car seat camp, Graco manufactures some of the most affordable and high-quality ones. Not only is this car seat super slim, but it also has smart features that make it easy to adjust as your child grows.
In the very beginning, your child will be rear-facing and cushioned with a body support pillow insert. Your precious bundle is always protected by impact-absorbing EPS foam.
As he or she grows into a forward-facing seat, you will use Graco’s patented Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. This system allows you to easily adjust the headrest and harness height simultaneously, instead of trying to adjust them separately. If you haven’t used a car seat before, you won’t appreciate just how wonderful a workaround like that is!
To transition to a booster, you’ll store the harness in a hidden harness storage compartment found in the seat. You’ll then thread your vehicle’s seat belt through the shoulder belt guide found on the headrest.
Switching between the stages is easy! Beyond the ease of use, you’ll be so happy to never buy another car seat!
By the way, this car seat has a 10-year lifespan before expiration. If your child outgrows the seat before that 10-year mark, it can be used by a younger sibling. This seat not only grows with your child but can grow with your family.
Before we continue any further, open a new browser tab and search for “convertible car seats.” You’ll quickly realize where this Graco car seat stands in price compared with the competition. The Slimfit 3-in-1 is not the lowest price on the market, but it’s certainly on the lower end of the spectrum.
The majority of similar convertible car seats range anywhere from $50 more to hundreds of dollars more. These seats don’t even offer the slim silhouette that this Graco product has!
That’s speaking, of course, of convertible car seats that grow with the child. If you would choose instead to go the route of an infant carrier car seat, you could be paying double the price of the Slimfit for a seat that will need to be replaced within a year or two.
For such an affordable price point, this is a top-notch convertible car seat. With a slim design and other features made to make a parent’s life easier, this car seat will be on your “must-have” list of your baby shower registry!
Four Recline Positions
When it comes to car seats, multiple recline angles make for a more comfortable ride. Parents especially like recline options because a deeper recline can prevent a baby’s head from hanging forward if they fall asleep.
There are four different recline positions in the Graco Slimfit. There are two angles in the rear-facing position, 1 angle in forward-facing, and 1 in the booster function. The two rear-facing reclines are the most significant. It offers the option to have your baby lay back and snooze or be more alert and upright.
If you’ve battled with recline mechanisms before, this seat won’t leave you aggravated. It’s a snap to adjust the recline. You’ll find the recline handle on the front of the seat and it can be pushed or pulled in the direction of your desired recline.
As with any seat, when adjusting the recline, always ensure that the car seat is level by checking the level indicator. A rolled-up towel or pool noodle can help if you have issues leveling the seat.
Often, installing a car seat can feel like a grueling punishment. If most car seats ever need to be moved to another car, I will suddenly disappear, leaving my husband to do it. I don’t have the patience required!
With this Graco seat, though, I don’t need to muster up all my patience and technical know-how. Like most Graco car seats, the Slimfit features the Right Latch install system. This system allows you to install the car seat without wrestling with the car’s seat belt.
Graco Protect Plus Engineered
You can rest easy securing your child in a Graco car seat. This is a company that takes safety seriously. They even have their own crash-test facility in Atlanta, Georgia!
Graco produces car seats that exceed the standard U.S. safety requirements for car seats. Only Graco car seats are Graco Protect Plus Engineered, meaning they have passed the most rigorous testing that Graco’s experts could throw at it.
This meticulous testing includes front, side, and back impacts, as well as rollovers and extreme temperatures. Your Slimfit 3-in-1 car seat will withstand anything while keeping your baby snug and safe.
If that isn’t enough to impress you, maybe a seal of approval from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will. The IIHS is an independent non-profit dedicated to making driving safer.
The organization recently tested the most popular booster seats for the safest fit. Each booster was stamped with one of three options: Best Bet, Good Bet, and Not Recommended. The Graco Slimfit booster earned the Best Bet from the IIHS.
Machine-Washable Seat Cushion
It’s a parenting rite of passage to experience that one car ride that warrants throwing the car seat cover right into the washing machine. That is if it’s machine-washable. Yes, my friend, it’s 2021 and some covers are still not machine-washable!
Graco knows we need everything in our lives to be machine washable, so the removable car seat cushions and covers are all safe to toss in your washing machine. This means one less thing to worry about!
Concerns About the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1
I won’t lie to you, mommies, I was hard-pressed to find many flaws in this Graco car seat. After all, Graco didn’t become a household name by producing lackluster products. Still, no one is perfect, nor any car seat. Here are the concerns about the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat.
The Harness is Spot-Clean Only
If you can, take a moment to think of everything that can happen in a car seat. If you’ve been unlucky like me, you may be remembering a time your child got carsick all over his car seat. It makes for a long drive home, but thankfully this Graco car seat’s cushion is machine washable, making it hassle-free to clean.
Spills and sick also hit the fabric harness of the seat as well. While some car seats do have machine-washable belts, this car seat does not. For the Slimfit, a soiled harness can only be spot-cleaned. Sometimes, for some messes, spot-cleaning may not feel like enough, so this may be an issue for you.
Unfortunately, the Graco company website doesn’t offer replacement parts, including harnesses. This makes a seriously soiled harness a real problem. The saving grace is that vinyl of the harness is very easy to clean by hand.
Inconvenient Safety Label
While it is noticeably absent from the marketing photos, a large safety label can be found on the actual seatback of the Graco car seat. The label’s contents aren’t a concern as it is the same warning label placed on all car seats. It puts parents on notice to not place car seats in the front seat with airbags.
Even so, some parents are displeased with the label’s positioning. It can be found where the child’s lower back would touch the seat. On particularly hot days, this label can become warm to the touch. Concerned parents found the warmth left their child uncomfortable in the car seat. Other parents pointed out that the material of the label works against the breathability of the seat cushion.
It’s important to note that the safety label is not a safety hazard itself. The material will not reach a dangerous temperature, but it can be hot enough to cause slight discomfort.
The Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 vs Diono Radian 3R All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
If you’re in the market for a slim car seat, the Diono Radian 3R All-in-One convertible car seat is the Graco Slimfit’s closest competitor. Diono proudly markets the Radian 3R as the “original three-across.” Like the Slimfit, this car seat can also fit three-across in the backseat.
The Seattle-based Diono designed the Radian 3R with European car seats as the inspiration. European car seats tend to be more minimalistic in style, which explains the Radian 3R’s basic and clean look.
While European-inspired, this car seat meets all U.S. safety requirements. Furthermore, the seat is made from a full steel alloy core with an energy-dissipating dual-spine.
How does the Radian 3R compare to the Graco Slimfit? As mentioned before, both seats can fit three-across in most vehicles. This is a unique feature that most car seats can’t offer. The Graco uses a rotating cupholder system to achieve a slim profile, while the Radian 3R foregoes cupholders entirely.
Both car seats grow with your child and can be used from birth to booster. You can rest easy knowing both seats have gone passed extensive and rigorous safety testing. FAA has even approved both for use on airplanes.
How do they differ? The Diono seat has an updated version for 2021. It now allows for extended rear-facing, up to 50 pounds. It also extended booster use from 100 pounds to 120 pounds. Meanwhile, the Graco can only rear-face until 40 pounds and the booster use ends at 100 pounds.
Does the Graco lose out? Not quite. While the Graco doesn’t offer the extended uses like the Diono, the Graco Slimfit is significantly cheaper and when you might have to buy three of them, a lower price is important!
The Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 vs Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat
Within the same pricepoint as the Graco Slimfit, the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 car seat is the closest competitor. Still, for the same price, do you receive the same value?
Like the Graco, the Safety 1st seat works from 5 pounds to 100 pounds. You can throw both seat’s covers in the washing machine for easy clean-up. Both offer multiple recline options (4 for the Graco and 3 for the Safety 1st).
First and foremost, the Safety 1st Grow and Go is not designed to be a slim seat. While it does promise ample legroom for both the child and the passenger seat in front of them, you won’t be fitting three of these seats in your car. Two seats could easily fit, but the third won’t be happening.
Second, the Safety 1st car seat just isn’t as convenient as the Graco one. While the Graco has hundreds of reviews praising its easy install, parents found the Grow and Go seat incredibly frustrating to install. The Safety 1st’s LATCH install system leaves something to be desired, and parents don’t feel confident in its ability to keep their baby secure.
Third, and lastly, the Safety 1st harness is difficult to adjust. The Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 has a handy system where the harness and headrest easily adjust together. The Safety 1st seat is two separate systems and parents find the harness very hard to adjust and tighten. Likewise, the height adjustment mechanism tends to make a rattling noise while the car is in motion.
While both car seats are at an attractive price point, between the Graco Slimfit and the Safety 1st Grow and Go, there’s a clear winner: Graco.
FAQs About the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
What are the weight limitations of the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat?
The Graco Slimfit car seat grows with your child. It can be used from 5 pounds all the way up to 100 pounds.
In this seat, babies can rear-face from birth to 40 pounds. The child can forward face up to 60 pounds. After 60 pounds, the car seat converts to a high-back booster seat for use until 100 pounds.
Is a detachable base included with the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat?
No. The Graco Slimfit is a convertible car seat and not an infant carrier. The seat does not detach from the base. If you would need to transfer the seat to a different car, you’d have to install the entire seat.
Infant carrier car seats detach from their bases, while convertible car seats do not. If a detachable base is not important to you, you can skip the infant carrier, especially since this Graco car seat is ready for use right at birth, or 5 pounds!
Will the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat fit three-across in a car?
Yes! Fitting three-across is no small feat – or, actually, it is. Only the slimmest of car seats can manage to fit three seats, but the slim design of this Graco can do it. For families with three littles of car seat age, this can a valuable benefit.
It’s important to note that, to fit three car seats, the cupholders will have to be rotated in. The side seats will have access to their outer cupholders, but the middle seat will have to no without a cupholder.
All cars are different, so be sure to measure your available space and compare the measurements to the car seat’s dimensions. The Graco car seat is 16.25 inches deep, 25.5 inches high, and 19.75 inches wide.
Is the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat certified for air travel?
Yes! Are you a family of frequent flyers? If so, you’ll need to be sure your kiddo’s car seat is approved for use on an airplane. Car seats on airplanes are highly recommended by the FAA because it’s the safest way of travel for little ones.
Like other Graco car seats, the Slimfit is approved for air travel. On the bottom or side of the seat, you’ll find an FAA-approval sticker certifying this. Keep in mind, different airlines have different seat spacing, so your experience may vary.
How can I clean the harness of the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat?
By now, you realize that the harness of this seat is not machine-washable and isn’t easy to replace, but how can you clean it when there is an inevitable mess?
According to the Graco website, they recommend the use of gentle soap and a washcloth. Keep the washcloth damp, but not dripping. You could also use baby wipes for easier messes. Never immerse the harness in the soapy water and don’t use bleach!
The harness needs to air-dry. Do not place it in a dryer and you should not use a hairdryer or iron on it to speed up the drying process. If the harness can’t be salvaged, contact Graco’s customer service.
When it comes time to purchase a car seat for your child, you’re bound to be full of questions and concerns. After all, the car seat you chose will be tasked with protecting your baby!
Overall, you cannot go wrong with the Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. Graco produces some of the best-selling car seats in the country – and it’s held that distinction for nearly two decades.
You can trust Graco thanks to their decades of success, but also thanks to their dedication to safety. This seat, and their other seats, are Graco Protect Plus Engineered. This means it passed and exceeded the safety standards for car seats!
Beyond offering a trustworthy name, this Slimfit car seat saves you valuable space in your car. If you start out with this seat for your first child, you will have enough room for your family to grow, even to include three car seats in one car.
Your family may or may not grow, but your child surely will and this seat will be along for the ride from rear-facing, to forward-facing, all the way to the belt-positioning booster seat. Buy one car seat and your child will use it for 10 years? Yes, please!