In the wake of the Alpha Omega Elite being discontinued, Safety 1st has released its successor, the Grow and Go 3-in-1. With its release comes important questions. How will it stack up to the seat many have both loved and dreaded for well over a decade? Does it fit in vehicles rear facing? Does the booster mode give proper belt fit? Let’s dive right in to the new Safety 1st Grow and Go and find out.
Safety 1st has a number of convertible and multimode seats. We’ve created a handy comparison chart to detail the differences between models.
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″
- Highback booster weight range: 40-100 lbs.
- Highback booster height range: 43-52″
- Shell height: 26″
- Lowest harness position: 6″ with insert
- Highest harness position: 16.5″
- Highest booster guide position: 18.5″
- Lower anchor weight limit: 40 lbs.
- Expiration: 10 years
- No-rethread harness when not using the newborn setting
Installation and Use
The Grow and Go can be used rear facing for children weighing 5-40 lbs and 19-40″ in height. This seat fits a variety of children rear facing and offers multiple recline options to help it fit in most vehicles. The Grow and Go has three recline positions. Position 1 is for forward facing only; while positions 2 and 3 are rear facing. There is a handy guide on the side of the seat to show which position the seat is in. The higher the number, the more reclined the seat will be.
For an infant who cannot sit up unassisted, the Grow and Go must be in recline position three and have the red rear facing line on the side of the seat parallel to the ground. Once the child can sit unassisted, you can have the seat installed in a more upright position. Recline positions two or three may be used at this time.
The sloped seats of the Town and Country required using recline position three in conjunction with the noodleless installation method to get the level line parallel with the ground. In a vehicle with less sloped seats, recline position three alone should be sufficient.
When the Grow and Go is fully reclined, the seat takes up a good amount of space front to back. It wouldn’t be recommend for compact cars for infants who can not yet sit up unassisted because of its large size. However, recline position two gives much more room front to back making the Grow and Go a good choice for older infants and toddlers in smaller vehicles. The difference in front to back space between recline 2 and 3 will vary by vehicle. For example, in a four door Cavalier, the Grow and Go can easily be installed rear facing using recline position two with the front seat all the way back.
Thanks to our friends at Vancouver Island Car Seat Techs, we have a few insights to the Canadian Safety 1st Grow and Go. In Canada, the seat has only one recline line and it must be used at all times, regardless of child’s age or size. Unfortunately, this makes the seat much less compact; so it will only fit well rear facing in larger vehicles.
The Grow and Go can be installed with seat belt or lower anchors. It comes with the standard j-hook lower anchor connectors. The lower anchor weight limit is 40 lbs. child weight, which means you do not have to use the seat belt installation until the child has outgrown the rear facing limits and is ready to ride forward facing. It’s important to only use seat belt or lower anchors, not both, and the tether is never to be used when rear facing.
The Grow and Go has a no-rethread harness unless you need the bottom harness position for a small infant. This position will need to be used more than likely until around 6-9 months due to how high the first no-rethread harness position is. If using a rear facing only seat before using the Grow and Go, you may not even need this step as the seat comes out of the box using the lowest no-rethread position.
Threading the harness into the bottom position is not the easiest thing, but thankfully it won’t need to be done often. The harness was hard to thread through all the padding and the harness slot itself was sharp. Trying this task on another Grow and Go seat was much easier; this seat must have been an odd one in the bunch. Again, this isn’t really a concern as this will not be done often, if at all. To use the lowest harness position, the head rest must be in the bottom position. It’s physically impossible to thread the harness through the harness slot if the head rest is not in the lowest position.
The Grow and Go also comes with additional body and head supports to provide even excellent harness fit for the youngest users. The body support must be used when using the lowest harness position. The harness threads through the body support to help keep it in place. Once the child is using the lowest no-rethread harness position, the body insert can be removed. The additional head support has tabs that hook into the built-in head rest on the car seat and can be removed at any time. The harness also has a shorter harness position to allow the harness to get tight enough on even the smallest baby.
Like other new seats on the market from Dorel Juvenile, the Grow and Go has a two-year minimum to forward face. This means all children using this seat must ride rear facing until at least age two, weigh 22 lbs., and are 29″ tall. Your child must hit all three milestones in order to forward face in the Grow and Go. It’s safer to continue to rear face until your child outgrows the limits of the seats; which is 40″ or 40 lbs. or when there is less than an inch of space above the child’s head when using the correct head rest position, whichever comes first.
Once your child has outgrown the rear facing limits of the Grow and Go, the seat will need to be installed with the seat belt (or lower anchors if the child is under 40 lbs.) and the tether is required. When forward facing, the car seat must be installed using recline position one. The top tether is an integral part of safety for forward facing restraints and should always be used per the manual. To position the harness for forward facing, adjust the head rest so the harness is close to the child’s shoulders, but still above them.
High Back Booster
This is probably the most exciting feature of the Grow and Go! It’s a multi-mode seat with a reasonable price that has a good seat belt fit in booster mode. This means that the Grow and Go can potentially last from birth to age 7! The 2015 IIHS Booster Ratings awarded the Grow and Go a Good Bet meaning it has acceptable fit in most vehicles. I had no concerns when using it and it provided an excellent fit for my model. When using the Grow and Go in booster mode, the seat must be in recline position one just like when used forward facing with the harness. The seat doesn’t allow for the lower anchors or tether in booster mode so the seat has to be buckled in when not in use and connectors stored. There are storage spots for the both the lower anchor connectors and tether.
Like other boosters, the belt guide is positioned above the child’s shoulders and the head rest adjusts to achieve proper fit. The highest belt guide on the Grow and Go is approximately 18.5″; which isn’t unusually short and will get many children to an appropriate age to use a backless booster.
A drawback to many multi mode seats is that the harness must be removed from the seat before using it as a booster. This poses issues when sharing the seat between children and also may mean you have to store the harness for an unknown about of time before passing the seat down to a younger family member. Safety 1st has addressed that issue with their harness storage system. It’s easy to use and keeps the harness and chest clip under the cover so no way for it to get lost. You do have to keep track of the crotch buckle, but that’s easily stored in the vehicle glove compartment.
To switch to booster mode in the Grow and Go, simply unsnap the cover and pull it back after removing the crotch buckle and pad. Close the chest clip and thread the harness through the notches on the red head rest support. You can then tighten the harness and the chest clip then slides up behind the support and out of the way. This keeps the chest clip from irritating the child’s back and there’s no need to keep track of the harness. Snap up the cover again and you’re all set to use the seat in booster mode.
The Grow and Go has multiple features that are designed to make using the seat easier for care givers. The first feature is the easy to remove, washable cover. Unless you are using the newborn harness position (the shortest lived position in the Grow n Go), the cover can be removed without removing the harness. The Grow and Go doesn’t have to be uninstalled just to wash the cover.
Another new feature on the Grow and Go is the harness/buckle holder. You can either insert the buckle tongue into the holder or it can hold the webbing to the side instead. Both are meant to help keep the harness out of the way so the care giver doesn’t have to awkwardly dig the buckle out from under the child every time the child gets in the seat.
Fit to Child
Rear Facing Infant
This is Fiona, CSFTL’s Huggable Images newborn. She is 7 lbs. and 17″. She fits great using the newborn harness position with the harness just below her shoulders. She fit well using both the newborn crotch buckle setting and regular small setting. I think most babies will fit well without using the newborn buckle setting. The harness covers were removed to allow the chest clip to be at armpit level and allow easier access to the harness to do the pinch test. The harness pads can be removed at any point when using the harness.
The infant adjustment involves pulling the crotch buckle down under the seat and then back up through the middle crotch buckle to shorten it. The crotch buckle isn’t overly long making this adjustment a bit of a chore. Skipping this step should still provide a nice harness fit on most newborns, the alternate newborn routing is a great option though if your baby requires it. If the Grow and Go you purchase comes with a crotch buckle cover, it is required at all times which makes the newborn position also a bit cumbersome. The Grow and Go Air does not come with a crotch buckle cover.
Rear Facing Toddler
This is Unity, she is 30 lbs. and 36″. She is below both the 40 lbs. weight limit and 40″ height limit at just turned 3. She is using the third harness slot of the five available and it is right even with her shoulders. The additional head and body inserts were removed and she is using the middle crotch buckle position with the required crotch buckle cover. When rear facing, only the closest two crotch buckle positions may be used. She’ll get easily another year out of this seat rear facing and since rear facing is the safest way to ride, this is how she normally rides. Here she is in an Isuzu Ascender with plenty of room to spare between her seat and the driver’s seat using recline position three on the Grow and Go.
This is Unity showing the forward facing use of this seat. She’s newly 3, 30 lbs., and 36″ tall so meets all requirements to forward face in this seat. She’s using the fourth harness slot of the five available, has the tether attached for maximum safety, and the required crotch buckle pad. She could easily use this seat forward facing for another 2-3 years on her current growth curve. This is great for her since should be at least five before moving into a highback booster and mature enough to handle the switch.
High Back Booster
This is Olivia. She’s 6.5 years old, 55 lbs., and 48″ tall. She’s tall for her age and has a long torso so outgrows car seats sooner than her peers. Even though she still meets the written requirements to use the harness, here she’s using the highest position for the booster belt guide. She’s almost outgrown the Grow and Go even in booster mode. The booster is outgrown when the height and weight limits are met or when the child’s shoulders go over the belt guides as Olivia’s are close to doing. However, she fits well and has proper belt fit for a booster. The lap belt is low on her lap, not on her abdomen, and the shoulder belt crosses well and touches her body, not hovering in front of it. This is a superior belt fit compared to the discontinued Safety 1st Alpha Omega. Seeing this excellent seat belt fit makes a CPST very happy!
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval- The Grow and Go is FAA approved when used in harness mode. It is not approved in booster mode though and because of its size, would not be recommended for travel if you were using it without the harness. You can find the FAA approval statement on the sticker on the child’s right side. When used rear facing, if the child is sitting unassisted, it may fit well front to back for airline travel using it on recline position two. FAA information is found on page 31 of the manual.
Expiration- The Grow and Go has a ten-year expiration from the date of manufacture. The date of manufacture is found on a white sticker on the side of the seat, while the seat is imprinted on the bottom with Do Not Use Ten Years from the Date of Manufacture. Near the date of manufacture sticker is also one of the QR codes available to help with installation videos. When I tried to use the QR code though, it took me to a promotional video with no option for installation videos.
Manual Storage- The manual is stored in this little compartment on the base of the seat, right near the storage for the tether anchor when using the seat rear facing. When forward facing, the tether should always be used, so no need to store it then.
This seat is so many steps above the Alpha Omega I can’t even compare them! There are few all-in-one seats that both work well in all modes and that are affordable for many parents that Safety 1st has done an amazing thing. The seat is a little cumbersome when used for a newborn, but this will only be an issue for those who skip the rear facing only seat. It provides an excellent fit for the average newborn though, so if you have the space, you can safely start with the Grow and Go. The Grow and Go becomes a compact option, once the child is sitting unassisted, that will then rear face many children until age 4, harness to ages 5-6, and booster until around age 7. A backless booster can then be used until the child passes the five step test around age 11.
The Safety 1st Grow and Go retails for $169.99 and can be found at several retailers including Amazon.com. Other versions of this seat are the Grow and Go Air and the Grow and Go Air EX. Also available are the Safety 1st EverFit and MultiFit 3-in-1. These car seats only harness forward facing to 40 lbs so won’t be as long lasting as the Grow and Go. They also cannot be used in booster mode until 40 lbs, so there is often a span of time the seats are unusable.
While Safety 1st did not compensate CSFTL for this review, and all thoughts are our own, they have partnered with us to do a giveaway for our readers. Please enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.
Originally written by Jennifer Penick. Edits maintained by CSFTL.
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