Recently I had the opportunity to check out the latest offering to the rear facing only seat market by Baby Trend: the Inertia infant car seat in the Horizon fashion. The seat itself has many similarities to Baby Trend’s popular Flex-Loc infant seat, but the base is full of new technology for Baby Trend, featuring an anti-rebound bar and rigid lower anchor connectors.
Note: this seat has been discontinued.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 5-32 lbs
- Height range: up to 32″
- Shell height: 19″
- Lowest harness position: 8″
- Weight (carrier only): 9.65 lbs
- Expiration: 6 years
- Handle position: any locked position
- Adjustable crotch strap: single depth position is 4″ deep, adjustable from 3.5″ to 6″ in length
- 4 mechanical recline positions
- Rigid lower anchor connectors
- Removable foot muff
- EPS foam in headrest
I was immediately intrigued by the installation of the base. It looks a little bit space-age, not like any other rear facing only seat I’ve ever installed (and as a busy CPST, I’ve installed a LOT of rear facing only seats!). Over several months that I tested out the seat, I tried it in about a dozen vehicles.
The lower anchor installation is fantastic, the rigid lower anchor connectors simply push on to the vehicle’s lower anchors, then rotate the anti-rebound bar into position and you’re done. I did find a few quirks in vehicles where anchors are set deep into the seat bight, it took me a few minutes of fussing to get them to attach. But overall, I loved the lower anchor installation.
Seat belt installation is a bit trickier. When installing with the seat belt, the Inertia requires the use of this plastic cover for the rigid lower anchor connectors, which they refer to as a seat belt adapter in the manual. Once the adapter is removed, there is no place to store it, making it very likely for a parent to misplace (and I did once in the course of trying it in many vehicles). The seat cannot be installed with a seat belt without it.
The routing for the seat belt is very specific, and can be tricky. The manual offers this guide, which can also be found on the base itself.
Routing the shoulder belt around the guides is a bit tricky, but the most difficult part is the length of the base. At 24″ deep, it is significantly longer than most rear facing only seat bases, and the seat belt adapter takes up a lot of space. I ended up having to stand in front of the seat and push it into the vehicle seat back to get it tight and get at least 80% of the Inertia base on the vehicle seat. It significantly smashed the cushions in my vehicle seat bight, which some parents may not appreciate.
One thing I did appreciate is the recline function of the base. It’s imperative for a newborn to have sufficient recline so that their head does not fall forward, which could cause a breathing issue in a young infant. Often infant seat bases have a foot adjustment or require the use of a rolled towel or pool noodle to adjust the recline. Not the Inertia. To accommodate the rigid lower anchor connectors, Baby Trend made the recline happen at the interior of the base, rather than at the bight. Recline position one is required for all infants under three months old. This concerned me at first, how could one manual recline setting cover all young infants? I was skeptical, but it really works. I installed the seat in a wide range of vehicles with varying slopes to the vehicle seat, and measured the angle of the seat using an angle app on my smart phone. The result was always right around 45 degrees, plus or minus 2-3, which is the generally desired angle for a newborn. I’m still not quite sure exactly how it works, but it does, and it’s fantastic. However, the downside is that the recline mechanism itself is very difficult to operate. The red lever to set the seat more upright for older babies is difficult to squeeze, easily pinches fingers, and in fact, after switching between positions once – mine won’t depress any more to switch it to a different position.
The Inertia can also be installed without the base using a vehicle seat belt. Installation was pretty straightforward, and there is an angle indicator on the carrier itself to guide a correct angle when not using the base.
Fit to Child
Young Infant – 3 months, 11 lbs, 24″
I primarily used this seat with my daughter at 3 months old, weighing 11 lbs and measuring 24″ long. She fit nicely in the seat on the lowest harness position, with lots of room to grow.
Newborn – 6 days, 7 lbs, 20″
I tried a brand new baby in the seat, at 6 days old, 7 lbs 1 oz and 20″ long, she fit well in the seat. The bottom harness slots are 8″ tall and should be positioned at or just below the child’s shoulders. There is not a low birth weight insert, so this seat would not be ideal for a preemie or small newborn, but works for average or large newborns on up.
Older Infant – 11 months, 20 lbs 10 oz, 29.5″
Next up, I borrowed an older baby, he is 11 months, 20 lbs 10 oz, and 29.5″ tall. He fit perfectly in the seat as well and would have several more months of growing room before outgrowing the seat (height limits are 32″ or head 1″ from the top of the shell, whichever comes first).
Toddler – 17 months, 21 lbs, 30″
After Emma was done with the seat, she sent it to me (Jennifer). I used the seat for a few months for my one year old. When she outgrew the seat, she was 17 months old, 30″ and 21lbs. If it weren’t for her cloth diaper, she might have squeezed in another inch before getting too close to the top of the seat. This was my daughter’s weekday seat. Yes, she has a weekday seat and a weekend seat! On week days we used this seat in one of captain’s chairs since my older kids are rarely in the van then. When all the kids are with me I load her in through the trunk to our third row, but I just prefer to keep things as easy as possible. I loved the way this seat installed with lower anchors; it was amazing and the best part of this seat. This made it insanely easy to take this seat in and out when her brother needed his seat back. I’ve never had an infant seat with a triangle handle, so that was a bit different for me, but nothing game changing one way or the other. I also didn’t care much for the puzzle buckle and sometimes her feet got caught in the anti-rebound bar when was getting her out, but overall it was a great seat for our needs with an older child.
How does the Inertia compare to other rear facing only seats? I compared it to two popular seats with similar stats: the Graco Snugride 30 (the black and green seat) and the Chicco Keyfit 30 (the red seat). The seats offered similar amounts of growing room for my daughter (2 months old in these photos). The Baby Trend by far has the largest canopy coverage, a huge plus. I also compared the installation using the seat belt and lower anchors. The Baby Trend was the easiest to install with lower anchors, but the most difficult when using the seat belt. It fell in the middle for front to back space, with the Graco taking up the most space in the vehicle (a 1998 Honda CRV) and the Chicco taking up the least space.
The Inertia does require the handle in the down position at all times in the vehicle (the others allow any locked handle position), it takes a good amount of clearance to swing the handle down when it is clicked in the base, but once its in, the handle doesn’t take up any more room than the head of the seat does. I found the easiest way to get around this was to set the seat in the car sideways first, rotate the handle down, and then click the seat into the base.
Friendly (and some not so friendly) Features
- Buckle: The Inertia has what’s called a puzzle buckle, which means that both tongues of the buckle must be held together and placed in simultaneously, rather than buckling the tongues independently. This particular buckle frustrated me, the pieces don’t hold together very easily, and over a squirmy baby they are very difficult to get closed.
- Multiple harness loops: There are two settings for the harness length, allowing you to shorten the harness to get a snug fit over a smaller baby. This is great, however I found it problematic on the smaller loops, because the extra fabric gets caught up in the base and makes it difficult to smoothly adjust the harness tightness.
- Triangle handle: The shape of the handle is supposed to make it easier to carry. I didn’t find it made a difference, it still bumped my leg awkwardly when I walked with the carrier. I did appreciate, however, the flat design of the rest of the carry arm, it sit nicely in the crook of my elbow and was more comfortable than other, more rounded handles.
- Adjustable crotch buckle: The buckle can be adjusted in length by folding excess fabric into the seat, which makes it easy to get a perfect fit for your baby.
- EPS foam: Found in the headrest to absorb energy in a crash. The cover also removed fairly easily to get to this state, convenient for washing.
- No re-thread harness: adjusts easily to position the straps properly at or below the child’s shoulders.
- Angle indicator: this bubble is only used for baseless installations, but the guide makes it easy to ensure the correct angle when using the seat without the base.
The Bottom Line
The Inertia has some great features; I loved the simple lower anchor installation, anti-rebound bar, huge canopy, and no re-thread harness. I had some dislikes as well: the confusing seat belt installation and adapter, puzzle buckle, and thin straps that are prone to twisting. Overall, the Inertia is an innovative addition to the rear facing only seat market, and may be a nice choice for your family’s new addition, too!
***UPDATE Aug. 2014***
I’ve had a chance to use the Inertia with my son and have been overall pleased.
Here he is at almost 2 months, 12 lbs 10 oz, and 24″. His shoulders were right at the lowest harness slot and the head support gave him nice support for his head.
He’s currently 5 months, 18lbs, and 26″ and fits well. It seems a bit narrow compared to some of the other seats I’ve tried with him, but he still seems comfortable. The adjustable headrest fits around his head perfectly and really helps with head slump when he sleeps. The biggest drawbacks are the thin twisty straps and the lack of harness comfort pads. My little guy has a chunky neck and the straps rub on his neck. To solve this, I just pull his shirt up under the straps. I love the large canopy, easily adjustable crotch buckle, and adjustable head support. Since the recline was broken on our base, I contacted Baby Trend and they were great about replacing it for us. I’ve found it’s a little hard to adjust into the more inclined position. I love that the base provides the ability to adjust it for older infants though. My son is excited to be able to see out the window. I didn’t have any issues with installation in my 2012 Nissan Quest. The rigid lower anchors are amazing and went in well even though my anchors are a bit buried. Overall I’ve been pleased with this seat so far.
*** UPDATE #2 – April 2015***
Our model got to try the Baby Trend Inertia out one more time before it gets retired to storage. He has outgrown it by height at less than 1″ from the top of his head to the top of the head support. His overall fit is still pretty decent besides being a bit squished.
Baby Trend kindly provided the seat at no cost for this review, however, CSFTL was not compensated for this post and opinions are all our own.
**Giveaway is now closed, congrats to the winner, Erica H!**
Love the Inertia? Now is your chance to win it! Contest is open to US residents only, ages 18 and up. Winner will receive one Baby Trend Inertia infant car seat. Enter today!