review of the guardimals car seat for toddlers

Sentry Guardimals Combination Car Seat Review

by Michelle Hand |

How does this new brand’s car seat compare to big brand, established models?

New products on the baby market usually can’t compete with the big name brands like Graco and Chicco. However, Sentry has come up with a truly innovative product that is a winner. I was able to get my hands on this car seat and use it for a few weeks. Here’s what I found. The Sentry Guardimals 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat is adorable, but don’t let the looks fool you – it’s an extremely safe and user-friendly car seat. And at a very competitive and wallet-friendly price, you really can’t beat this car seat for your older child.

Safety Features

If you’re looking at this car seat, you might be wondering if it’s safe. After all, this brand is relatively unknown. But let me tell you that there is zero doubt in my mind about the safety of this car seat.

Quality Design

This car seat has been designed to have safety in every feature. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the founder and lead designer of Sentry Baby Products, and he’s actually an experienced aerospace structural engineer. He has many years experience in the car seat and baby gear industry. And that experience certainly shows. He is so knowledgeable about all of the different ways that you can build a car seat to make it safer for your child.

Every single thing in this car seat, from the angle of the slant of the bottom seat to the placement and type of chest clip is designed to help keep your kiddo safe during an accident. In fact, this car seat meets or exceeds every single federal safety standard for car seats. And it does this not by a small margin, like some of the more popular car seats on the market, but by a large margin.

For example, the chest impact during accident testing for a car seat can’t exceed over 60 G’s of force. Some car seats on the market today are measuring at 55 G’s, whereas this car seat measures in the 40s. That means that it’s much safer for your child by a long shot. And it’s been rigorously tested in government-approved testing labs to show that it is 100% safe.

Another safety feature worth mentioning is the headrest. Yes, it’s fuzzy and cute and looks like your child’s favorite animal friend. But the shape and size of this headrest provide significant side impact protection in an accident. It will shield your child’s most precious body part by protecting their head not only from the impact, but from debris that could fly around. This impeccable side protection continues down the body of the car seat, where the curved sides will provide protection in the case of an accident. The final safety feature worth noting is a super energy-absorbing foam that lines the entire car seat. This keeps it lightweight while still being effective in a crash.

It’s these features that landed this safe booster seat on our Best Booster Seats list.

Safety at Every Age

This car seat is a three-stage booster seat with the following modes:

 

  • Stage 1: 5-point harness car seat for children 22 to 50 pounds and 28 to 50 inches

 

 

  • Stage 2: Belt positioning high-back booster for kids from 30 to 100 pounds and 38 to 58 inches

 

 

  • Stage 3: Belt positioning backless booster for kids from 40 to 100 pounds and 40 to 57 inches

 

The backless booster is actually an IIHS Best Bet for boosters. This is because of the unique design, which features a downward slant. This slant helps your child stay back despite the propulsion forces when in an accident.

This car seat is a smart buy because the seat really will grow with your child. I am a full grown adult, and I can almost fit within the safety requirements of this seat! That means that your kid will certainly get lots of mileage out of the seat.

 

Designed for Kids and Parents Alike

Just one quick glance at this car seat and you can tell that it’s different from everything else on the market. Not only is it more adorable than most other car seats, but it’s a lot of fun! It’s something you know your kid will want to use, and you’ll love it too.

Why Your Kid Will Love It

Your kid will love this seat because it will become their best friend. It’s like a way for them to take one of their stuffed animals in the car without having to haul around extra items. You can pick from several adorable creatures for your kid’s car seat. My son uses the puppy car seat and he absolutely loves it! He keeps telling me that it is so cozy and that it is his friend. And this is coming from a four-year-old big boy, not a small toddler. So this certainly has appeal for kids of nearly every age.

Kid-Sized Storage

My son loves the storage and the cup holder. On the paws that are part of the armrest, there are two little elasticized pockets for treasures and snacks. He loves to put his prizes from school in these pockets on the way home. As for the cup holder, he likes to switch it from side to side as he needs to. And it fits a very good size drink, including his plastic water bottle.

Soft and Comfortable

The headrest has a squishy pillow that’s part of the character’s face. My son loves this because he says it’s super soft and comfortable. He has the puppy design, and he always is playing with the ears on trips in the car. You can easily move the headrest up or down to get it where you need it to be so that it’s at a comfortable height for your kiddo’s head and so that the wings of the headrests are providing optimal protection.

Since my son is big enough, we did let him try out the backless booster seat. He said that he liked it because he was a big boy, but he said he missed his animal friend. So as long as my son can safely fit within the height and weight limits for the car seat with the safety harness, we’re going to keep him in there. And it’s not a challenge – he wants to be in there. I like this because car trips are a lot safer without a kid trying to unbuckle his car seat and roam around the car. You can’t underestimate the amazingness of a child who wants to get in the car and stay in the car seat. This is a busy mommy’s best friend.

My son loves the softness of the seat. Some plush items look or seem soft, but after a little bit of wear and tear, they become gross and the fabric starts to pill. This car seat has held up to both sunny, hot days and snowy, wet days. It’s still as soft as it was the day we got it. The foam underneath keeps it comfortable for long and short trips alike.

 

Why Parents Will Love It

So your kid loves their cuddly friend. That’s obvious. But why should a parent love this car seat?

Easy Installation

Well, for starters, it’s amazingly easy to install. It features a latch system with two bottom hooks and a top tether. This is how we have it installed in my small SUV, and this thing does not rock. My son was using another big brand car seat for a long time, and it would kind of rock side to side when he got in. This car seat has not moved an inch since we installed it.

For those of you without a latch or tether system in your car, this car seat features a belt loop path for your vehicle’s belt. Now, it is a front belt path. These are a little more challenging to use, and they take a little bit longer for you to install. You can’t just run the vehicle belt through a back hole and call it good. I had to look up in the manual how to do it correctly so that I could test it out. Once I figured it out, and took the extra time to do it right, it was very secure. I know for personal preference some people don’t like these, but I thought it was fine.

The other great part about installing this car seat is that it’s very lightweight. It weighs in at only 16 pounds, and it’s noticeably smaller than some of the other similar convertible car seats that I’ve used. In fact, I think I could easily get three of these across the back seat in my small SUV. So if you need a car seat to go in the car with other car seats and actually fit, this would be a really good option.

Great Cover

The next thing that I like about this car seat is the cover. I’ve already raved about how amazingly soft it is (and I can’t rave enough about that!). But what makes it even better is that it’s machine washable. The entire continuous character cover, which is a patented design, by the way, can come off and be washed. If you wash this correctly, on cold gentle cycle and drip-dry, it will say soft and clean. Please don’t destroy it by putting it in the dryer, as tempting as that may be. Just wash it how it says and it will stay wonderfully nice.

Worth mentioning about the cover is the mesh material that’s featured in the core of the car seat. The area of the car seat that goes from the bottom of the headrest all the way down to the lower back is made from this amazing mesh material. This helps your kid to not get sweaty. If they were sitting on just plush all day, it would be sweat city in that car seat. But the mesh really helps it to be breathable and gives them circulation for their back. But, I’ve also noticed that on snowy days, it still keeps them warm and doesn’t make them feel drafty.

 

A Safe but Tough Harness

The safety harness, like I mentioned above, is specifically designed to keep your kid extremely safe. Every part of this safety harness was picked with care. My one and only complaint about this car seat is that I can’t undo the chest clip with one hand. Now, I have a love and hate relationship with that fact. I like the fact that the chest clip stays together because it means that this chest clip would hold up in the case of an accident. And like I mentioned above, it reduces those G’s on your child’s little body.

However, I have found that on a using it daily basis, not being able to undo the chest up with one hand is an inconvenience. I’ve used three or four other car seats in the past that had very nice chest clips that were safe and also easy to undo with one hand. I’m thinking that maybe over time, this thing will loosen up. But as for right now, I have to squeeze one side of the chest clip with one hand and yank on it with the other hand. Even then, sometimes I can’t get it undone and it takes me a couple of tries. Other than that, the safety harness is fantastic, and it really is easy to adjust the tightness and fit with one hand.

Any Age Design

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen the character car seats and steered clear of them. My thought is that I don’t want to buy a car seat with a character that my kid won’t like in a year or two. Then he won’t want to sit in the car seat and car trips will become even more of a hassle.

But this car seat is not that way. It’s universally appealing to all kids because of the cute animal design. And as your child grows, you can remove elements of that animal design. You can take off the paws and the character parts to just have a nice plush booster to sit on. The price point of this car seat is really competitive too, so that gives me just another reason to buy it. I know that for a very inexpensive price, my kid’s going to get a car seat that he will love and use for many years to come.

Pros

  • Passes all safety requirements with high margins
  • 3 modes: car seat, high back booster, backless booster
  • Cute design makes your kid want to be in the car seat
  • Fun extras, like a drink holder and pockets
  • Plush cover is removable and machine washable

Cons

  • Chest clip is difficult to unbuckle
  • Front path belt loop takes more time to install

Final Take

The Sentry Guardimals Booster Car Seat is truly unique and innovative. It has several design and utility patents pending. The booster portion of the seat is an IIHS Best Bet Booster. The design is cute and clever. The aerospace structural engineer-designed safety features keep my kid, which is my most precious cargo, safe in any accident. It’s soft, it’s comfortable, it’s cute, and it has fun features, like a cup holder and pockets, that keep your kid happy.

But all those things aside, the thing that has won me over most about this car seat is how much my son loves it. He is so excited to get in the car and use this car seat. Whenever I have to take one of his cousins out and about with us, they fight over who gets to sit in the car seat and who has to sit in the regular booster that we have.

I do wish that the chest clip was a little bit easier to use, but considering that that’s my one and only complaint with this car seat after using it heavily for several weeks,  I’d say that speaks volumes about the design of this seat. For the price, this new car seat can’t be beat. So while you might be tempted to go with a big brand like Graco, or maybe even one of the little kid character seats from Kids Embrace, don’t do it! Go with the Sentry Guardimals and you won’t be disappointed.

Michelle Hand
Michelle Hand is the mom of a very busy one-year-old and a super fun kindergartener. She splits her time between writing and hanging out with her family. She loves researching and writing to help moms find the best products. When she has some free time, she likes hiking, singing and playing the piano, reading, and taking her dog for walks.

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