Safety 1st Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 Car Seat Review

A Little helping with the Grow and Go Air review.

A Little helping with the Grow and Go Air review.

Our friends at Safety 1st have developed a number of 3-in-1 multimode and convertible car seats that are similar but have different features.  We’ve reviewed the cornerstone seat in this group, the Grow and Go and were eager to take a close look at the new Grow and Go Air.  The seat has three modes: rear facing, forward facing, and booster mode. Our seat’s cover is a peaceful and soft pattern called Evening Tide.

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: 19-40″
  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 29-49″
  • High back booster weight range: 40-100 lbs
  • High back booster height range: 43-52″
  • Lowest harness position: 6″ with insert
  • Highest harness position: 16.75″
  • Highest booster guide position: 18.5″
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 40 lbs

Features

Three buckle strap positions at 4.5″, 5.5″, and 6.5″
Large, easily removable strap covers
Infant inserts (under, behind, and for the baby’s head)
Flexible cupholders
Expiration: 10 years
No-rethread harness when not using the newborn setting

Measurements

  • Shell height: 26″
  • Front to back newborn depth: 35″
  • Front to back upright depth: 30″
  • 18″ wide from the outside of the cupholders
  • 18.5″ wide at the shoulders
  • Weight: 20 lbs

Installation

Rear facing

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air recline positions are clearly marked.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air recline positions are clearly marked.

Rear facing the Grow and Go Air has the same three positions available for the use of the seat as the regular Grow and Go.  Positions two and three are for rear facing, and between the two they offer quite a large range. However, even with this in my car I needed to install the seat more reclined than I could achieve mechanically to get the seat to a newborn angle. If this seat will be used for a newborn, plan to have a rolled towel, pool noodle, or install the seat noodleless to achieve the correct recline. It was not difficult, but because there’s a single recline line and I was alone it did mean going in and out of the car to check the recline over and over. That’s normal for all seats with a single recline line, and the fastest way to install is to have a second person standing outside the car to give you guidance on the recline line.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air installed rear facing with the seatbelt at a non newborn angle.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air installed rear facing with the seatbelt at a non newborn angle.

With the seat belt the install was straightforward and easy. Pulling the cover aside to reveal the rear facing belt path, especially if you have larger hands, will make things easier. I have small hands and did not pull the cover aside, and it was doable. I was being stubborn more than efficient.

This seat installed well with the noodle-less installation method for a newborn angle.

This seat installed well with the noodle-less installation method for a newborn angle. The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air installed well with the noodle-less installation method for a newborn angle.

The lower anchors for this seat are somehow easier than other seats by Safety 1st. I suspect the height of the belt path gives more room for tightening, but whatever the reason I found the lower anchors very easy to use rear facing. I didn’t have to pull the cover aside to tighten it completely, and I was able to install with the anchors in about 10 seconds every time I did it (I was also using the noodle-less install method). The connectors are the typical hook on connectors which are standard on many seats. They are threaded through the belt path when the seat is new or when switching from rear to forward facing.

Rear facing the tether is not used; it stores easily out of the way on the lower back of the seat.

Forward Facing

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's headrest was nearly pushed forward by my vehicle's headrest.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s headrest was nearly pushed forward by my vehicle’s headrest.

Forward facing with the seat belt or lower anchors was also very easy. With the headrest all the way up there’s a panel that can unsnap and fold forward, showing the forward facing belt path. This makes it easier for parents to route the belt or lower anchor strap, and then to pull either of those tight again. Forward facing installations were not a problem. The standard lower anchor weight limit for Safety 1st seats is 40 lbs, child’s weight. A vehicle seat belt must be used to install this seat for children who weigh more than 40 lbs.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air installed easily and quickly with the seat belt.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air installed easily and quickly with the seat belt.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's lower anchors were also just as easy.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s lower anchors were also just as easy.

Depending on the shape of your backseat and head restraints from the car, I could see there being compatibility issues, so check this out even if you’re installing and planning to use the seat rear facing for a long time. In my car, the head restraint was positioned well and didn’t interfere, but in other cars with more prominent rear head restraints it could push the Grow and Go Air’s headrest too far forward to install well.

The tether is easy to unhook from its storage spot and route through to the tether anchor.

Booster Mode

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's booster belt fit is good, without armrests or a typical guide.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s booster belt fit is good, without armrests or a typical guide.

When using this seat as a booster there are no armrests or even a very typical belt path. However, the belt fit on the child is very good. The lap belt sits low on the hips and stays snug to the child’s body. The shoulder belt should be routed under the Easy Out Harness Holder on the buckle side. It provides a nice shoulder belt fit as well. My 6 year old was able to buckle it in herself and had no complaints at all about the seat in booster mode.

This seat does NOT use the lower anchors when in booster mode. The lower anchors and tether must be stored away, and the seat buckled when not in use to keep it from becoming a projectile.

Fit to Child

Small Newborn

A great small newborn fit with the straps below the shoulders, the crotch strap not too long to be cumbersome, and the harness passing the pinch test.

A great small newborn fit with the straps below the shoulders, the crotch strap not too long to be cumbersome, and the harness passing the pinch test.

This doll is too squishy to have even an approximate weight or height, but the Grow and Go Air starts at 5 lbs and 19″, so let’s go with having a child just at the lowest ends of this seat’s allowance.The small newborn doll fit VERY well. I was actually very surprised, this doll doesn’t fit in all seats.
In order to use this seat for a newborn the harness needs to be unthreaded from the headrest and rethreaded through the main body of the seat. The inserts should be added at this time, and the inner loops of the harness should be used. This sounds like a lot of work, but the manual makes it very easy with step by step picture instructions of every step needed. I just followed along with what the manual said and found myself with a very nice fit for a newborn. Fantastic!

The instructions for rerouting the harness into newborn mode.

The instructions for rerouting the harness into newborn mode.

You can see the straps are just a hair below the small newborn’s shoulders. They passed the pinch test, and with the crotch buckle in the shorter setting (it’s in the innermost slot, but routed back up into the middle slot) everything fit the doll very well.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air with the newborn doll.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air with the newborn doll.

The harness was difficult to tighten in this mode, but my 6 year old was able to tighten the doll in it, so it’s certainly not something an adult can’t do, just harder than most seats. I don’t know if this will get easier with time and use, however.

This seat has a FANTASTIC newborn fit.

This seat has a FANTASTIC newborn fit.

Newborn, 7 lbs, 17 inches

The newborn sized Huggable Images doll is listed at 17″, not long enough to use this seat, but I suspect with his legs unbent he’s the required 19″.

I kept the inserts and routing from the previous small doll, and you can see with the average newborn torso this seat fits babies easily. The straps are WELL below the shoulders of the doll, and I was able to get theme to pass the pinch test with ease. For the average newborn, this seat will fit without a worry.

Two Year Old

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX: 2 Years Old

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX: 2 Years Old

This model is 21 months old, weighs 29 lbs, and is 34 inches tall. The seat’s low sides make loading him into the seat pretty simple and he’s got a good bit of room to grow.

Three Year Old Doll

Harper the doll set up for rear facing at three years and 38 inches tall.

The 3 tyear old doll set up for rear facing at three years and 38 inches tall.

At 3 years old, 30 lbs, and 38 inches tall, the 3 year old doll is within the rear and forward facing limits of this seat, so I tried her in both modes in the house. Rear facing there was still room above her head to grow by a couple of inches, so it’s very likely she’d hit the 40″ rear facing height limit before the relative height limit of her head even with the top of the fully extended headrest. The 40 pound rear facing limit is also a very fair and average limit on the market, and a decent weight for the height allowed on the seat. Strapping her in was easy rear facing with the inserts removed and the crotch strap moved to the middle position and elongated for a non newborn.

Growing room available above the head.

Growing room available above the head.

Forward facing room until it's outgrown.

Forward facing room until it’s outgrown.

Three and a Half Year Old

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX: 4 Years Old

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX: 3 Years Old

This model is 3.5 years old, weighs 28 lbs, and is 36 inches tall. She’s on the smaller side of the growth curve so she’s still got plenty of rear facing room left in this seat!

Three Year Old

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX 3 Years Old

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX 3 Years Old

This model is 3.75 years old, weighs 36 lbs, and is 38.5 inches tall. She’s she’s pushing the height and weight limits for this seat. Using the third harness position from the bottom, she’s got a little room to grow in this seat, but not much.

Six Year Old Doll

In the house the straps were right at the shoulders, trending to below.

In the house the straps were right at the shoulders, trending to below.

The 6 year old doll weighs 45 lbs, and is a very tall 6 year old at 48″.  She’s one inch away from the overall height limit for the harness on this seat, and her shoulders were just at the top harness height. If she was a real child she might have settled a bit after I buckled her up and she might have just fit, but at her height it was so close I would call this outgrown. But only just.

Right at the shoulders, but one good sneeze and it's outgrown.

Right at the shoulders, but one good sneeze and it’s outgrown.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air with the tall six year old doll.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air with the tall six year old doll.

Six Years Old

In the house, six years old, with a little room to grow in the harness.

In the house, six years old, with a little room to grow in the harness.

I used 6 year old Laine the child to model the seat in harnessed and booster modes for us. She weighs 54 lbs and is 46 inches tall. She found the harness uncomfortable, though I suspect that had a lot more to do with the fact that she’s only just moved to a booster and doesn’t want a harness again rather than any actual discomfort. I can’t imagine she disliked the feel of the very large and thick allowed strap covers, and she did like the feel of the cover quite a bit.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air with the straps in the highest harness height for a six and a half year old.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air with the straps in the highest harness height for a six and a half year old.

When she first sat in the seat she said it was very soft and she liked that. She was able to buckle herself in harness mode easily, and kept telling me to tighten it, there was no complaint about the feel of the straps on her shoulders (again, part of why I think she said it was uncomfortable is because she would rather sit in a booster).In booster mode, the belt fit was great, and she was able to buckle herself in. She said it was quite a comfortable seat and liked it quite a lot once I stored away the harness.

Unique Features

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's harness storage instructions from the manual.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s harness storage instructions from the manual.

When not using this seat for a newborn, the harness is a no-rethread, pulled up by a handle at the top of the headrest rather than two independent handles like the Grow and Go.

In booster mode, the harness does not need to be removed, it gets cleverly stored behind the headrest plastic panel on the seat. The crotch strap and the strap covers are removed, so if you will be using the seat again in harnessed mode in the future, please put these where you won’t lose them. My 6 year old couldn’t feel any of the harness, chest clip, or buckles while they were stored away. She had no idea they were there at all. It’s great when a seat’s harness can be stored right with the seat in booster mode, though it would be nicer if the crotch strap could also be stored, that way if there was a need to use the seat harnessed suddenly it could be. However this way, at least, the main harness will not be lost while the seat is in booster mode, so at the worst and a crotch strap is lost, that’s the only part that needs replacing (and it’s far easier than redoing the entire harness).

The seat comes with three added inserts, plus the strap covers. There’s an insert for under the child’s bum, another for behind the child’s back, and then a third for the head. The two pieces for behind the body and under the bum are together called the body pillow. They are required when using the seat with the straps in the lowest position for a newborn, but are not mentioned further for rear or forward facing. In order to use the head pillow, the back body pillow must be used (it holds the head pillow in).

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air recline line.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air recline line.

The seat requires a single recline when a child cannot sit unassisted, but as with other Dorel seats that have come out in the last 18 months, when a child can sit unassisted the seat has no maximum allowed incline. The Grow and Go Air can be very compact when using the more upright of the two mechanical rear facing recline positions and the base installed just flat on the backseat, great for smaller cars or taller front seat passengers.

Dorel's Air Protect technology, airbags for the head.

Dorel’s Air Protect technology, airbags for the head.

The main differences between this seat and the Grow and Go, though, are the Air bladders that surround the head, and the open belt path for the forward facing routing. The Air bladders are basically thick balloons of air, and in a side impact the child’s head will hit those rather than plastic or foam.

There is no buckle padding with this seat compared to the Grow and Go. Some kids will prefer the padding, and I don’t know if it’s available for this seat from Safety 1st. However, it’s one less required thing that can potentially be lost, so there may be an upside to it as well.

Important Information: Where to Find

FAA Approval

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air aircraft approval.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air aircraft approval.

The aircraft approval statement for this seat is located at the child’s right shoulder, and is clearly marked with an airplane symbol to make it easier. However, it is approved only when using the harness, as the booster portion requires a lap and shoulder belt.

Manual Storage

Manual storage location.

Manual storage location.

The manual storage is at the bottom of the base, in the back, and is clearly marked on the seat and in the manual itself.

Expiration

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's expiration is completely on the bottom of the seat.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s expiration is completely on the bottom of the seat.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's expiration is stamped on the underside.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s expiration is stamped on the underside.

On the very bottom of the seat, turn it completely upside down to see, the seat has a stamp to not use after 10 years from the sticker on the side. This is also repeated in the manual.

Manufacturer Information

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air's manufacturer's information.

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air’s manufacturer’s information.

The sticker with the model name, number, and date it was made is located near where the child’s left leg will sit.

Pros

  • Good fit in all modes (rear facing, forward facing, booster)
  • No re-thread harness after newborn setting
  • Hideaway harness in booster mode
  • Multiple recline angles for rear facing mode

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of front to back space when installed for a newborn
  • Top harness slot of 16.75″ is a little lower than other seats in this category

Overall Thoughts

GrowgoAs Jennifer said in her review of the Safety 1st Grow and Go when it came out, this is a far cry from the Alpha Omega Elite and cousins. This seat DOES fit newborns well, it DOES make a good booster, and it DOES work for the average child to four years old rear facing and a mature booster age forward facing. In general, it’s far easier to install than the Alpha Omega Elite, but for a newborn it may take a few tries to get the angle just right. While at a few newborn recline it’s not compact, it’s smaller than the Alpha Omega Elite. Dorel did a great job of listening to parents and revising a seat that had great potential into one that actually works well. And with the Air version they’ve added their Air Protect technology, along with the ease of the open belt path for forward facing to help with installation. The Grow and Go Air can be purchased from Amazon.com.

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