Safety 1st is replacing their Canadian Grow and Go multi-mode seat with a new version – the Grow and Go ARB which features an anti-rebound bar. With plenty of fun covers to choose from, the Safety 1st Grow and Go ARB is a colourful addition to the Canadian market. How does it stack up against the version our US readers know and love? Let’s take a look!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 19-40 inches
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range: 29-49 inches
- Booster weight range: 40-100 pounds
- Booster height range: 43-52 inches
- Expiration: 10 years
- Lower anchor weight limit: 40 pounds
- Lowest harness height: 7 inches (6.5 inches with mandatory body pillow in use)
- Highest harness height: 17 inches
- Lowest booster belt guide height: 12 inches
- Highest booster belt guide height: 18 inches
- Crotch buckle slots: at 5, 6, and 7 inches from the back of the seat pan
- Anti-Rebound Bar
- No rethread harness
- Premium LUAS
- In and Out Harness Holders
- Plush cover in fun colours
The anti-rebound bar (ARB) ships attached to the Grow and Go ARB’s harness, which makes it impossible for caregivers to miss. We were very excited to see this, since this piece is required when using the Grow and Go ARB rear facing.
Installing the ARB would be easier with three hands (or two people), but since I was impatient to set up the seat, I was able to awkwardly balance the Grow and Go ARB upside down against my knees so both hands were free to shimmy the ARB into the holes in the bottom of the seat.
One of the pegs needed to be pushed on with one finger while I used my other hand to push the ARB on, but after speaking with some other CPSTs this does not appear to be a common issue (I guess I am just lucky?). The ARB installed fairly easily once I figured out how to balance everything, and it locks into the seat nicely.
In and Out Harness Holders
The In and Out harness holders on the Grow and Go ARB are handy hooks on the side of the seat that hold the harness conveniently out of the way while you’re loading your kiddo into the seat.
Single Rear Facing Recline Angle
Unlike this seat’s American counterpart, the Grow and Go ARB must be installed with the level line parallel to the ground at all times. This means that the seat will take up a fairly significant amount of front to back space rear facing and may not fit properly in small to mid sized vehicles.
The Grow N Go ARB features an optional head pillow, body pillow, buckle cover, and strap covers. All of the padding can be used rear facing, but the head pillow and body pillow must be removed in forward facing mode.
Harness Height Adjustment
The Grow and Go ARB features a no rethread harness that moves up and down with the headrest adjustment.
Moving the harness requires two hands – grasp both grey plastic adjustment handles, rotate toward the centre of the seat, and move the headrest up or down as needed. Be sure to loosen the harness first!
There is a special harness setup for smaller infants. We’ll explain that in more detail in the rear facing Fit to Child section of this review.
Mechanical Recline Options
The Grow and Go ARB features three mechanical recline options. Recline 1 is for forward facing only, and Reclines 2 and 3 are for rear facing. If recline 3 is not enough to achieve the correct rear facing recline (line level to the ground), a rolled towel or pool noodle may be used to recline the seat further.
We were a bit confused by the manual’s guidance around the recline settings and when to use a rolled towel/noodle so we reached out to Dorel’s engineers for clarification. Their response was:
“If the level to ground can be achieved in position 2 or 3 without a tightly rolled towel or noodle, that would be the best option. The key word is that [a rolled towel or noodle] can be used if needed . The addition of the rolled towel or noodle should only to be used to correct the level to ground if it cannot be achieved in position 2 or 3 without it. The correct time to use a noodle in position 2 would be if position 3 is over reclined and position 2 is too upright. We would not want to use a towel or foam noodle for other reasons.” In layman’s terms that means to try recline 3. If the level line is level to the ground, great! If it’s too upright, try a rolled towel or noodle to recline the seat further. If it’s TOO reclined, switch to recline 2 and, if necessary, use a rolled towel or noodle to recline the seat so that the line is level to the ground.
To adjust the seat’s recline, pull on the recline handle located at the front of the seat and pull or push on the top of the Grow and Go ARB.
Top Tether Storage (for Rear Facing and Booster Modes)
The top tether stores at the bottom of the back of the shell. Always use the top tether in forward facing mode. Not only it top tether use required by Transport Canada, it reduces head excursion in the event of a crash.
Lower Anchors (LUAS)
The Grow and Go ARB features premium lower anchor connectors. These are significantly easier to use than the standard hook-on lower anchor connectors.
The lower anchors clip to the side of the seat for easy storage when installing the Grow and Go ARB with the vehicle seat belt. To move the LUAS from one belt path to another, simply remove them from the one belt path and rethread them through the other belt path. The lower anchor webbing is attached to the side of the shell of the seat.
Installation — Rear Facing
Vehicle Seat Belt
Installing the Grow and Go ARB with the vehicle seat belt is very straightforward. Simply thread the vehicle seat belt through the rear facing belt path, buckle the seat belt, and remove the slack. We found that pulling the seat cover back to expose the rear facing belt path was a very handy trick with the Grow and Go ARB.
Ensure the level line is parallel to the ground and the seat is in recline 2 or 3. If recline 3 is not reclined enough, a rolled towel or pool noodle may be used to recline the seat further. When the correct rear facing recline is achieved, lock the seat belt, and ensure there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path.
Installing the Grow and Go ARB with LUAS is also very straightforward. Simply thread the LUAS webbing through the rear facing belt path, attach the LUAS to the vehicle’s lower anchors, and remove the slack from the webbing. Again we found that pulling the seat cover back to expose the rear facing belt path was a very handy trick with the Grow and Go ARB. Ensure the level line is parallel to the ground and the seat is in recline 2 or 3. If recline 3 is not reclined enough, a rolled towel or pool noodle may be used to recline the seat further. When the seat is set to the correct rear facing recline angle, pull the LUAS webbing tight and ensure there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path.
Rear Facing Installation Challenge
The biggest obstacle we ran into when installing the Grow and Go ARB rear facing was ensuring that we did not inadvertently make the seat more upright than the level line while tightening the seat belt or LUAS. It can be difficult to achieve the correct recline angle on the first try, so don’t be frustrated if the installation requires a few adjustments! We installed the Grow and Go ARB in a couple of different vehicles and were pleasantly surprised that although it is a fairly large seat when installed rear facing, we were able to accommodate the recline in the centre back seat of some mid-sized sedans like the 2000 Chrysler Cirrus pictured here.
Installation — Forward Facing
To install the Grow and Go ARB forward facing, adjust the seat’s recline to recline position 1.
Vehicle Seat Belt
Installing the Grow and Go ARB with seat belt is very straightforward. Simply thread the seat belt through the forward facing belt path, buckle the seat belt, and remove the slack. Once the slack has been removed from the lap portion of the belt, lock the seat belt, and ensure there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path. Be sure to use the top tether (legally required in Canada)!
Installing the Grow and Go ARB with LUAS is also very straightforward. This method can be used for children who weigh between 22 and 40 pounds. When the child weighs more than 40 pounds, a vehicle seat belt installation is required. Simply thread the LUAS strap through the forward facing belt path, attach the LUAS to the vehicle anchors, and remove the slack. Ensure there is less than 1″ movement at the belt path, and be sure to use the top tether (again – this is legally required in Canada)!
Unsnapping the seat’s cover and reaching through the seat to tighten the vehicle seat belt or LUAS is a trick that makes installing the Grow and Go ARB a quick and easy process.
Fit to Child — Rear Facing
For a smaller infant, the Grow and Go ARB has an interesting setup that helps to ensure the seat fits babies as small as the seat’s 19 inches tall and 5 pound minimum height and weight.
While the seat itself includes a no rethread harness, for a smaller infant there is an additional set of slots that are quite low at 6.5 inches. To use these slots, the headrest MUST be in the lowest position, and the body pillow MUST be used. With the crotch buckle in the slot closest to the child, fully recline the Grow and Go ARB, and access the metal retailer at the bottom of the crotch buckle. Push the retainer up through the middle slot to shorten the crotch buckle. Next, loosen the harness and rethread the straps through the lowest slot on the seat – through the body pillow and the seat’s shell. When attaching the straps to the splitter plate at the back of the seat, use the 2nd harness strap loops to attach the straps to the splitter plate. This shortens the straps to ensure a tight fit for a small infant.
This setup must be used until the child is tall enough for the lowest harness position of the no rethread harness setting to be positioned at or below the child’s shoulders.
We were lucky enough to have two newborn models to test in the Grow and Go ARB. For both babies we have moved the harness to the setting for smaller infants (including the mandatory body pillow), have removed the head pad and harness covers, but have left the buckle cover on the seat. For some babies, the buckle cover may need to be removed, as the buckle can be a bit short when in the required “doubled back” setting here.
Our first model is a 3 week only baby who, at 19 inches long and 7 pounds, just meets the height minimum of this seat. He was not at all impressed with being used as a seat model, but he fit the Grow and Go ARB beautifully, with the straps well below his shoulders in the smaller infant setting, and his airway was well supported by the steep recline of the seat.
Our second model is only 3 days old. She weighs 8 pounds and is 21 inches long. She had started the day in a bit of a grouchy mood, and her mom was very impressed to see her settle into the Grow and Go ARB and sleep through our entire photoshoot. Like our 3 week old model, she obtained an excellent fit in the seat, and the recline supported her airway perfectly. She was obviously very comfortable, and objected loudly to being removed from the seat when we were done!
3 Years Old
To convert the Grow and Go ARB from the setup for a smaller infant, unthread the straps from the splitter plate, route the straps through the higher harness slots, and pass them over the metal bar at the back of the seat before attaching the 1st harness strap loops to the splitter plate.
Our bigger rear facing model is a 3 year old who at 39.5 inches tall and weighing 34 pounds, is one growth spurt away from outgrowing the Grow and Go ARB rear facing by height. At 5 months shy of her 4th birthday, she is very safe forward facing if she happens to hit that growth spurt soon.
The two inner crotch buckle positions can be used rear facing, and we have moved it to the middle slot for her because she is sitting on the first slot and the next slot is more comfortable for her. We have removed the body pillow and head pillow but have left the buckle cover and strap covers on. She finds this seat very comfortable and loves that the cup holders are the perfect size for her pet dragons. Her mom loves that the cup holders are easy to wipe out for those times when she decides her cup holders are also a good storage space for her muddy pet rocks.
Fit to Child — Forward Facing
5 Years Old
This model is 5 years old, 47 inches tall and weighs 47 pounds. The harness is adjusted to the highest setting and as we can see by the close up of her shoulder, she is very close to outgrowing the Grow and Go ARB by torso height. At 5 months shy of her 6th birthday, now might be a good time to work on moving her to a booster. She rode in the Grow and Go ARB for a few weeks forward facing and found it to be quite comfortable. She was able to buckle herself in to the Grow and Go ARB but struggled undoing the chest clip herself (she is able to unbuckle the crotch buckle using her UnbuckleMe). We like that the manual mentions that the Grow and Go ARB has a maximum seated height of 17 inches – that’s a great piece of information to include in the manual (and it’s always nice when our measurements match the manufacturer’s!).
Converting from Harness to Booster Mode
The first step in converting the Grow and Go ARb to booster mode is to remove the crotch buckle from the seat by pushing the retailer clip through the seat. Be sure to store the crotch buckle in a safe place so you can find it later! Next, store the LUAS and top tether as they cannot be used in booster mode. The final step is storing the harness.
To store the harness:
- Adjust the headrest to the highest position
- Undo the snaps attaching the headrest pad to the seat cover and pull the headrest cover off the bottom of the headrest
- Undo the snaps from the bottom of the harness pad
- Thread harness straps into the storage slots on the sides of the headrest
- Place chest clip, harness straps, and buckle tongues behind the headrest and seat pad
- Tighten the harness and pull the headrest pad back down over the bottom of the headrest
Fit to Child — Booster Mode
Our 5 year old model agreed to test fit the Grow and Go ARB for us in booster mode, but did not ride in it because she isn’t quite mature enough yet for the responsibility of a booster seat.
She experienced a bit of trouble when attempting to climb into the seat – the Grow and Go ARB is a robust seat on a smaller base, so the seat was quite “tippy”. Eventually we picked her up and set her down on the seat to ensure that neither our model nor the seat fell over.
The Grow and Go ARB provided her with an excellent seat belt fit – the lap belt is low on her thighs, touching her hips, and the shoulder belt is centered on her shoulder beautifully. As she has just about outgrown the Grow and Go ARB in harness mode by torso height, she doesn’t have a ton of growing room left in booster mode, but she should have about a year of growth left in booster mode. The Grow and Go ARB manual indicates that the maximum seated height in booster mode is 18.5 inches. We measured the top belt guide at 18 inches, because we measure to the bottom of the belt guide (as that is where the shoulder belt rests when the seat is in use). Again – we’re happy to see this measurement included in the Grow and Go ARB manual!
Important Information — Where to Find
National Safety Mark: Located on the side of the seat
Airplane Use Approval Sticker: While the National Safety Mark is all that is required in Canada to show that a seat is approved for airplane use, Safety 1st has added an additional sticker indicating clearly that the Grow and Go ARB is approved for airplane use in harness mode.
Date of Manufacture: Located on a sticker on the side of the seat.
Expiration: Stamped into the plastic on the back of the shell.
Manual storage: Located at the bottom of the back of the seat’s shell.
With so few multimode car seats available in Canada, we welcome seats like the Grow and Go ARB that not only offer all three modes, but offer three modes that work well. This seat fits newborns beautifully, will rear face most children to at least their third birthday, will harness most children to at least 5 years old, and provides an excellent booster fit for likely the first year of booster usage. While it won’t be the only seat the child needs, it is one that will do the job and do it pretty well.
With the plush cover, two cup holders, premium LUAS, and fun colours, caregivers and children should enjoy this seat. The only (and really the biggest) issue (pardon the pun) is how large the Grow and Go ARB is rear facing. It’s not a seat designed to fit small or mid sized vehicles well, and that is a definite drawback for a seat marketed for use from birth to booster. For caregivers with large vehicles looking for a lot of bang for their buck, the Safety 1st Grow and Go ARB just might be the seat for them!
Our friends at Safety 1st Canada are giving one lucky Canadian reader a Grow and Go ARB! Enter below for your chance to win!
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