Orbit Baby is a name that’s been around for some time — when my now-driving teenager was a baby, we strongly considered getting the rotating Orbit G series rear facing only car seat for her (we went with a Graco instead, they’re still around today, too!).
Orbit took a break from the market for a few years and has returned with a refreshed version of both the rear facing only car seat and the toddler car seat. Today, we’ll look at the Orbit Baby G5 Infant Car Seat.
It has a plush cover, a very nice, ergonomic carry handle, plus some really nice ease-of-use features, and rotates as it attaches to the base. We definitely appreciate all of these features but did find that getting a good fit on our newborn doll was a real challenge and we learned that it can’t be installed in vehicles without a base. Read on to see how the seat stacks up!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 4-30 pounds
- Height range: 19-32 inches
- The child’s shoulders must be above the lowest set of harness slots
- Replace after moderate to severe crash
- Lockoff on the base for lower anchor or vehicle seat belt installations
- Level indicator
- Manual rethread harness
- Soft carry handle
- Expiration date: printed on the date of manufacture label, not listed in the manual. Our Orbit expires in 2029, seven years after it was made. The label didn’t give a specific date in 2029 so we’ll assume that means December 31, 2029 but we’ll confirm that with Orbit.
- Cannot be installed in vehicles without the base(in other words, this seat isn’t an option for ride shares or situations where caregivers wouldn’t use the base)
- Approved for use on aircraft only without the base
- Do not use in a shopping cart
- Newborn insert for lower weight babies who weigh between 4-11 pounds. The first part of the manual says that Information on how and when to use this insert is not in the manual, it’s on the website, however, page 73 of our manual does have these instructions. The insert also includes separate instructions for use.
- Lower anchor borrowing is allowed if the spacing is between 11-20 inches and the vehicle manufacturer allows it
- The StrongArm tension adjuster must be set to Zero before every install. The manual suggests to turn roughly 10 times per install.
- Width at widest point: 16 inches
- Highest harness position: 10.5 inches
- Lowest harness position: 8 inches without newborn insert
- Lowest harness position: 7 inches with newborn insert
- Carrier weight: 13.6 pounds
- Base weight: 14.4 pounds
- Front-to-back length: 27 inches (this is unofficial and will change a bit when the seat is installed in different seating positions)
The seat comes out of the box ready to go, no assembly is required. However, the newborn insert is packaged separately so families who need to use that will have to set that up. We applaud this packaging since it means that many families with average-sized babies should have a car seat that is set up for their child right out of the box.
Removing the Carrier from the Base
At this point, I’ve removed many an infant carrier from a car seat base. I have to say that without a doubt, the handle on the Orbit Baby G5 is my favorite. It’s mounted on the carrier itself, just squeeze the handle that’s inside the larger handle you’re using to carry the carrier, turn the carrier, and it comes off the base. I found that it released quite easily, no struggle required.
The G5’s manual is the prettiest, shiniest manual I’ve ever seen. It’s printed on shiny colored paper and is full of easy-to-follow accessible instructions. Did I take a picture of it to share with you? Apparently not.
I found that the harness on our seat catches a bit when it’s in the shortest position. Once I extended it past that point, it moved smoothly but it caught in that place every time. I peeled back the cover to discover two splitter plates that got off center when the harness was fully extended.
The seat includes a fairly robust newborn insert. This official piece of foam padding does remove an inch from the lowest harness slot so it can make the difference in the way a newborn might fit in the seat. Inside the package are some additional instructions on how to fit a newborn into the seat.
Newborn Fit Video
The manufacturer has produced a helpful video on how to improve the infant fit by using the insert.
Carry Handle Instructions
That Graco I mentioned earlier served us well but I can’t forget the uncomfortable feeling of the carrier’s hard plastic handle digging into my arm. Orbit has solved this common issue by having a soft carry handle that feels very tolerable when you’re carrying the carrier.
It has a few rules for use: lift the handle into the upright position. Lock the handle in place by securing the tab through the red D-ring on the handle grip. Make sure the handle is in place by attempting to move the handle. You’re ready to pick up the carrier and position the soft carrier handle grip in the crook of your arm. This will keep the infant’s weight close to your body.
To store the carry handle when it isn’t being used, undo the hook and loop fasteners and lower the soft carrier handle to be flush with the top of the upholstery.
Car seats and booster seats in tight spaces present a challenge to so many of the families we help. I’m here to share some great news — I think the Orbit is the narrowest rear facing only car seat on the market! It’s only 16 inches wide at its widest point. We installed the Orbit G5 next to a Maxi-Cosi RodiSport (tight spaces often involve booster riders, too!) and a Safety 1st onBoard 35. It did fit but rotating it into position was a bit challenging. I update my assertion that it will offer a lot of options for tight spaces to mention that it work, but needs to be installed next to a low-slung seat that doesn’t interfere with the rotation.
If I’m wrong and there’s something narrower, send me an email.
There’s a really nice, well-placed piece of Velcro toward the bottom of the carrier, the harness webbing tucks right on to that for easy storage. This is a small but thoughtful touch that makes using the seat easier.
At 13.6 pounds, the G5 might just be the heaviest carrier on the market. The fact that it does snap into the Orbit stroller might mitigate the challenges such a heavy seat might present (if a family buys the stroller as well) but by itself, it’s pretty heavy. That being said, the carry handle does help quite a bit and the weight is well-distributed.
Installation with the Base
The QR code on the seat itself contains links to instructional videos and the seat’s manual. We’re always fans of features that make accessing installation instructions easier.
The G5 includes premium, push-button lower anchors. They store in a very visible, easy-to-access location on the front of the base. To install using these little beauties, press the red button to release them from their storage location, then extend the webbing until it’s long enough to thread them through the belt path. Make sure that the StrongArm indicator is set to the zero that is pretty much impossible to see on the label. That zero is there, though!
There’s no need to open the lockoff, just connect the lower anchors to the connectors in your vehicle, then pull the tail end of the webbing tight, making sure it stays flat. I found the “keeping it flat” part a bit challenging. Once the slack is removed, turn the StrongArm knob if needed. You may not need the StrongArm to get a secure installation but it’s a nice thing to have if you need a little more leverage. If the base moves less than an inch at the belt path, and the level indicator window shows green, you’re ready to go.
I found this process pretty darn easy.
Vehicle Seat Belt
To install the G5 base using the vehicle seat belt, set the base on the vehicle seat with the belt path toward the back of the vehicle. Open the lockoff. Make sure that the StrongArm indicator is set to the almost totally hidden zero on the label.
Thread the vehicle seat belt through the belt path and buckle it. Remove the slack from the top (shoulder) portion of the vehicle seat belt while applying counterpressure to the base. Once the slack is removed, close the lockoff, then turn the StrongArm knob if the indicator is still in the red. You may not need the StrongArm to get a secure installation but it’s a nice thing to have if you need a little more leverage.
Check for movement at the belt path. If the base moves less than an inch at the belt path, and the level indicator window shows green, you’re ready to go.
I found this process pretty darn easy as well.
Installation without the Base
The Orbit G5 cannot be installed without the base in vehicles. It can be installed without the base on aircraft. In fact, this is the only approved installation method for aircraft. The manual has instructions for how to do this. If you find yourself traveling with a G5, please remember to pack your base because you’ll need it in the vehicle when you arrive.
Since I’m unlikely to be flying with an infant at this point, I’m unable to provide pictures of this scenario for you.
Crotch Buckle Positions
The G5 has two crotch buckle positions in the cover, but only one in the shell of the seat. I found that neither one worked particularly well for my newborn doll — in the innermost position, the doll was sitting on the buckle itself. When I moved it back to the original, outermost position in the cover, it looked too far out. The manual doesn’t mention this second slot so I’m not sure what to do with it.
Orbit clarified for us that the cover has two openings for smaller infants. When using the newborn insert, you must use the inner slot in the upholstery. Without the insert, depending on the child you can use the one that fits the baby the best. This is definitely a tidbit that I’d like to see in the manual.
Fit to Child
Our Huggable Images preemie doll weighs 4 pounds and is 17 inches long. Unfortunately, the doll is too short for the seat’s minimum height of 19 inches so we’re not able to test the seat with this doll. Even though the G5 has a 4 pound minimum weight limit, we don’t see too many 19 inch long preemies so I can’t assert that this would be a solid choice for a tiny tiny passenger.
Once again, our 7 pound, 17 inch long Huggable Images doll comes to the rescue. Here’s where we had some challenges with the G5 — it didn’t fit our newborn doll particularly well.
Without Newborn Insert
I first tried the doll without using the newborn insert. Since our doll weighs 7 pounds, I’ve found that it needs the insert on some seats, but not all. In this case, I’m really not sure what it needed. Orbit has advised us to contact them when a newborn needs assistance with the fit, they may have some suggestions so please don’t be afraid to reach out if this applies to you.
Note: the head support, shoulder, and crotch pads are all optional. Also, the crotch pad is the largest one I’ve ever seen.
Without the insert, the lowest slots on the harness are above the doll’s shoulders. With the insert, the doll looks squashed but the harness straps are still too high.
With Newborn Insert
I then harnessed the doll with the infant insert in place. The harness straps are a lot closer to my doll’s shoulders but now the doll looks kind of squished. The harness straps are still above the doll’s shoulders when they should be below the shoulders.
8 Month Old
This adorable 8 month old model is new to helping CSFTL with reviews and we’re so grateful to have his help! He weighs 19 pounds and is 28 inches tall. He fit very well in the seat and seemed pleased with his overall modeling experience (as are we!).
After we saw how challenging the newborn doll fit is, I was hopeful that an older, larger baby would fit well in the seat. I was not disappointed, he has a great fit in the G5.
16 Month Old Doll
Our 16 month old doll is 31 inches tall. Since the Orbit’s maximum height limit is 32 inches, we were eager to see if the bigger doll would fit.
Our doll is at the top of the height range for the seat but still has some room to grow.
Stroller and Rocker
The G5 isn’t just a car seat, it rotates into a stroller and a rocker as well. Together, these items make up The G5 System.
That interchangeability between the stroller, rocker, and car seat base is no doubt part of the seat’s charm. Since we are still not Strollers or Rockers for the Littles, we’ll just mention that those optional items exist.
Important Information: Where to Find
Date of manufacture label: our Orbit expires 7 years after it was made, this information is only listed on the label that’s on the end of the base. The manual instructs users to look at the label for this information.
Manual storage: if we handed out awards for niche things, the “Best Manual Storage” award would go to the G5.There’s a lovely zippered pocket on the back of the base.
FAA approval label: the G5 can be installed on aircraft without the base. The approval label is red lettering at the bottom of a label that’s full of words.
The G5 has a lot going for it — plush cover, interesting loading mechanism, a fairly easy to install base. But it didn’t fit our newborn doll particularly well, and that’s a thing we do expect from rear facing only car seats. We’d urge caregivers who are considering this seat for their tiny kiddos to either consider a different seat with lower harness slots or reach out to the manufacturer to troubleshoot some additional options for the harness fit.