Is this simple and inexpensive seat as good as the fancy and pricey car seats?
Expensive car seat brands certainly earn their reputation. But, you don’t always have to pay big money for a big brand to get a great car seat. The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is a user-friendly and safe car seat. It might not have as many bells and whistles as all the expensive brands, but it works just as well. Since it can go from 5 to 100 pounds across three different modes, you can use it for many years. It has some other cool features, like a reclining back, extra legroom, and a machine washable cover. This car seat offers safety, convenience, and style at an affordable price.
The Benefits of 3-in-1
Most of the popular car seats on the market today are convertible, and with good reason. Buying a car seat that you can use for a few years and potentially for another kid just makes good parenting sense. Here’s the 3 different modes for this seat.
Rear Facing- 5 to 40 Pounds
Safety 1st advertises that you can use this car seat beginning with baby’s very first car ride home from the hospital. To accommodate smaller babies, it’s got a lumbar support pillow and a head support pillow. Both of these extra pillows can be removed later on when baby grows out of them. I feel like there’s adequate support between the pillows, the harness, and the recline level to keep a small baby comfortable. I will say that the harness itself is a large, and it might drown a very small baby. On my 6 month old, the chest strap covered pretty much her entire chest from armpit to armpit.
Forward Facing- 22 to 65 Pounds
The next stage for this car seat is the forward facing ride. Kids can stay in this position until they’re 65 lb. As for when you start putting them forward facing, that’s up to you, although the American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommends that kids stay rear-facing until at least 2 or until they exceed the height or weight limit their car seat allows. This mode is where you’re going to get most of the use out of this car seat. At this age, the kids will be really happy for the features like the cup holders and the shoulder pads on the harness straps.
Booster- 40 to 100 Pounds
The final stage for this car seat is a belt positioning booster. The back doesn’t come off of this model, so it is a high-back booster chair. This should be used by older kids who need a booster to help the seat belt of a car fit properly. Usually kids need a booster until they’re at least 4 feet 9 in or are around eight years old. During the stage, you can remove all the extra padding as well as the five point safety harness system so all that’s left is the seat itself. You can somewhat adjust the headrest up for older kids, although I found that my very tall four-year-old didn’t like the head rest because it kind of blocked his side view out of the window.
Color options for the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1
Watch: Product Overview
Installation and Usage
In the Car
So what about actually using the car seat? Using the car seat in your back seat every day and looking at the picture on the box are two different things. Ultimately, this car seat fits nicely in the car and does what it needs to.
Obviously, the biggest concern of having this car seat is safety. And while you might be more familiar with the safety of some of the big-name car seats, Safety First looks up to their name. They do put the safety of your child first. That’s why they completely exceed all of the requirements for use in the United States. They have awesome side-impact protection from the unique shape of the headrest. And this isn’t just for the two rear facing and forward facing modes. It’s also for the booster mode. In fact, this car seat is rated as a Good Bet by the IIHS when in booster mode. You can rest assured that your kiddo will be completely safe if there is a crash, as many Amazon users can attest to.
Securing the Seat
The seat features a latch system for securing it to your car, or you can also use your vehicle seat belt. I have used a lot of different latch systems, and I feel like this one is no easier or harder than any other system. You simply hook the hooks, one on top and two down below, into your car and you’re ready to go. To get the car seat really secure, I had to put my knee down in the car seat and play some of my weight in the seat while pulling on the latch straps. This was the only way I could get the car seat to feel secure enough to keep from rocking. This problem lessened when it was foward facing and I had the upper tether strap to add some stability.
Does It Take Up a Lot of Space?
One of the cool design features that this simple car seat sports is a shorter bottom that allows for extra legroom. A lot of car seats extend well out past the edge of the vehicle’s seat. This car seat doesn’t. It says that it can give you up to 7 in of legroom for kids, which pretty much equates to more leg room in the front seats because you don’t have to slide the seats all the way forward to make room for a bulky car seat. I will say that I found this feature only to be useful when the car seat wasn’t fully reclined. When it was fully reclined, it took up quite a bit of space in my car rear facing. I could see this potentially being a problem for someone who owns a compact or sedan.
A Few Good Features
What would a good car seat be without some extras? While this car seat doesn’t feature a ton of brag-worthy aspects, it does have a few useful features that you will like.
This car seat features two integrated cup holders on each side of the car seat. These are awesome for older kids who like to keep their stuff near them. That way you’re not constantly turning around to try and help them find something. The location of the car seat’s drink holders is kind of inconvenient. I feel like if they were further down in front it would make it a lot easier to get kids in and out of the car seat. Also, if they were removable, they’d be so much easier to clean. But as is, they are really good to have.
The Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat has what Safety 1st calls a quick adjust headrest. All you have to do to adjust the headrest is twist two levers at the top of the headrest and pull it up or down. Not only does this adjust the level of the headrest, but it also adjusts the shoulder height of the harness system. This makes it so easy as your child grows and you have to convert the car seat to a different mode. You also don’t have to unthread the straps, even when you have to clean the car seat.
The final thing I love about this harness system are the built-in harness holders on each side. It’s simply these little plastic hooks on the side of the car seat that hold the straps open when your kid is getting in and out. This makes it so easy because you don’t have to dig behind your kid to find the car seat straps. I also like that this harness has shoulder pads. That’s just icing on the cake.
And speaking of cleaning the car seat, this car seat could not be easier to clean. The entire polyester padded cover is removable and machine washable. But that’s not what makes it great. What makes a great is your ability to put it in the dryer. This is amazing because the dryer is what actually kills a lot of the bacteria and icky things that grow on fabrics, especially car seat fabrics. It also means no waiting a day or two for the car seat to dry. You can have it washed, dried, and ready to ride in within a few hours time.
Like you’ve probably guessed from a couple of other places in the article I have mentioned it, this car seat has the ability to recline. It actually has three recline positions that range from basically straight up and down to laying back at about a 45 degree angle. I feel like this is an essential feature for convertible car seat, because if a car seat sits up too upright, it’s not very good for the smaller babies. This car seat also has a really cool level feature on the side where you can easily tell what height it’s reclined to and what height it should be at to be safe for your kid.
Style and Comfort
A big concern when buying a less expensive car seat is that it won’t look as good or feel as good as other models. But that’s not the case with the Safety 1st car seats. This seat has a lot of padding to keep your kid comfortable. Even if you remove all of the extra pillows designed for the rear-facing mode, it still has enough cushion to keep older and heavier kids comfortable. Also, this car seat comes in a variety of colors. 9 colors to be exact. So whether you want something that’s more geared toward boys, more geared toward girls, or a nice neutral to last through a couple of different kids, you can find the style that suits you.
- 3 different modes for years of use
- Safe and easy with good latch system
- Easy to adjust harness
- Washable cover
- Stylish and cute
- Bulky in back seat, especially when reclined
- Cup holders in weird spot and hard to clean
- Tips around if you don’t get the latch right
- Gives more legroom, but still bulky
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 Grow and Go received 4 stars in the forward-facing category as you can see in the table below.
I am partial to Safety 1st car seats myself. For our first child, we didn’t have a whole lot of extra money laying around, but we wanted a car seat that was safe. We chose a Safety 1st car seat, and four years later, we still love it. The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is exactly the same way. Your kid can grow with it over the years, from some of their first car rides, to some of their last car rides that require a booster. It is not the absolute best car seat on the market but I love that this car seat is safe and secure in the car once you get it latched in correctly.
It does take up a considerable amount of space in the car, even with the design that’s supposed to allow for extra legroom, but that works out okay in our small SUV. The harness system is fantastic because it makes adjustments and getting in and out of the car seat easy. The washable and dry-able cover it is wonderful, and I like that the cover comes in really cute designs. Overall, I would say that this is comparable to similar car seats from big names like Graco. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, but still want a very safe, stylish, and reliable car seat that will last through the years, then the Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is the car seat for you.