For many, many years, the Safety 1st Alpha Omega family of car seats was the default car seat for many, many families. While it claimed to be a multimode car seat, the belt fit in booster mode was poor and unsafe for most children. When it was discontinued, CPSTs across the nation rejoiced and welcomed the Grow and Go 3-in-1 in its place.
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 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 19-40 inches tall
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range: 29-49 inches tall
- High back booster weight range: 40-100 pounds
- High back booster height range: 43-52 inches tall
- Shell height: 26 inches
- Lowest harness position: 6 inches with insert. This is a separate harness position. The harness must be threaded separately into this slot when it’s being used.
- Lowest no rethread harness position: 10 inches
- Highest harness position: 16.5 inches
- Highest booster guide position: 18.5 inches
- Lower anchor weight limit: 40 pounds
- Expiration: 10 years
- No-rethread harness when not using the newborn setting
The Grow and Go has multiple ease of use features, among them is the easy to remove washable cover. When the harness is in the reathread position, the cover can be removed without removing the harness or uninstalling the seat!
The buckle holder is another ease of use feature. It can hold either the buckle tongues or the harness webbing 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.
Installation: Rear Facing
In rear facing mode, the Grow and Go fits children who weigh between 5-40 pounds and are 19-40 inches tall. This seat has 2 rear facing recline angles. These options can help the seat fit into most vehicles, regardless of how sloped or not sloped the vehicle seat is.
The Grow and Go has three recline positions. Position 1 is for forward facing only, 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 along 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 for newborns, it has a pretty sizeable front to back footprint. This footprint means it’s not the best option in compact cars for infants who cannot yet sit up unassisted. For older babies who have neck control, recline position two gives much more room front to back.
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 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’s lower anchor connectors are the standard j-hook style. The lower anchor child weight limit is the same as the rear facing weight limit of 40 pounds so it could be installed with lower anchors for the entire time a child rides rear facing. However, the vehicle seat belt can be used at any weight. Install using only the vehicle seat belt or lower anchors, not both, and the tether is never to be used when rear facing.
Newborn Harness Position
The Grow and Go has a no rethread harness for all but the tiniest passengers. There’s a newborn harness position for small infants. This harness position will probably be required until most children are around 6-9 months old because the first no rethread harness position is a fairly tall 10 inches.
We found threading the harness into this lowest harness position on our particular seat pretty challenging. There’s a lot of padding to work through and the harness slot itself on our review model was sharp. We’ve tried this task on another Grow and Go seat and found it much easier to do.
To use the lowest harness position, the headrest must be in the bottom position. It’s physically impossible to thread the harness through the separate harness slot if the headrest is not in the lowest position.
The Grow and Go also comes with additional body and head supports to provide a consistently good harness fit for the youngest passengers. The body support must be used anytime the harness is in the lowest newborn harness position. The harness threads through the body support to help keep it in place.
The harness covers can be removed to fit the tiniest of passengers. Please store them in a location you’ll remember — replacements cannot be ordered separately. The manufacturer only sells the harness pads as part of a set along with a new cover.
Once the child is large enough to use the lowest no rethread harness position, the body insert can be removed. The additional head support has tabs that hook into the headrest and can be removed at any time.
Our Grow and Go has a two year minimum age for forward facing. This means all children using this seat must ride rear facing until at least age two, weigh 22 pounds, and are 29 inches tall. Your child must hit all three milestones in order to forward face in the Grow and Go. It’s safer to continue to ride rear facing until your child outgrows the limits of the seats. That’s 40 inches, 40 pounds, or when there is less than an inch of space above the child’s head when using the correct headrest position, whichever comes first.
Newer models of this seat and other car seats made by Dorel have a one year minimum age for forward facing. We advocate that children ride rear facing as long as possible.
Once your child has outgrown the rear facing weight limit of the Grow and Go, the seat will need to be installed with the vehicle seat belt. Lower anchor installation is allowed if the child weighs less than 40 pounds. The top tether is required for forward facing.
Forward facing installations require recline position one. The top tether is an integral part of safety for forward facing restraints and is required. To position the harness for forward facing, adjust the headrest so the harness is close to the child’s shoulders, but still above them.
High Back Booster Mode
Not only does the Grow and Go have rear and forward facing modes, it’s also a transitional booster seat that offers a good seat belt fit in booster mode. The 18.5 inch shoulder belt guide position means that this seat may not last terribly long in booster mode but it’s a nice option to help new booster riders adjust to their new responsibilities.
The 2015 IIHS Booster Ratings awarded the Grow and Go a Good Bet, which means that it has an acceptable vehicle seat belt fit in most vehicles.
In booster mode, the Grow and Go must be in recline position one. This is the same recline position used for forward facing harness mode installations. 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 the lower connectors stored away.
Converting to Booster Mode
Some multimode car seats make swtiching between harness and booster mode quite challenging because the harness must be removed and stored. The Grow and Go’s harness storage system keeps the harness attached to the seat, the chest clip is stored under the cover so no way for it to get lost. The crotch buckle must be stored.
To switch to booster mode in the Grow and Go, remove the crotch buckle and pad, then unsnap the cover and pull it back. Close the chest clip and thread the harness through the notches on the side of the plastic headrest support that extends behind the child’s back. Tighten the harness and the chest clip will slide up behind the head support and out of the way. Snap up the cover and the seat is ready for booster mode.
Newborn Crotch Buckle Routing
To adjust the Grow and Go for an infant, pull the crotch buckle down under the seat’s shell, then back up through the middle crotch buckle to shorten it. The crotch buckle isn’t overly long so this adjustment is a bit of a chore.
Skipping this step should still provide a nice harness fit on most newborns, the alternate newborn crotch buckle routing can help the Grow and Go fit the smallest of babies well. If your particular Grow and Go includes a crotch buckle cover, it is required at all times in harness mode.
Fit to Child
Rear Facing Infant
Our Huggable Images newborn weighs 7 pounds 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. 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.
Rear Facing Toddler
This model is 3 yars old, weighs 30 pounds, and is 36 inches tall. 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.
This model is newly 3 years old, weighs 30 pounds, and is 36 inches tall. She meets all requirements to ride forward facing in this seat. She’s using the fourth harness slot of the five. 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 high back booster and mature enough to handle the switch.
High Back Booster
This model is 6.5 years old, weighs 55 pounds, and is 48 inches 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. For the moment, 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, 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.
Other Versions of this Seat
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 include the Grow and Go Air and the Grow and Go Air EX. Similiar, but shorter-lived versions of the Grow and Go are the Safety 1st EverFit and MultiFit 3-in-1. These options only harness forward facing until the child weighs 40 pounds, which is a very low weight limit. They also cannot be used in booster mode until the child weighs 40 pounds, so there is often a span of time the seats are unusable. We’d suggest sticking to the Grow and Go family of products instead of these options.
The harness or vehicle seat belt fit in all three modes remains the Grow and Go’s leading feature. After so many years of having the ill-fitting in booster mode Alpha Omega on the market, the Grow and Go is a welcome change that can fit children from birth through their first days as booster riders.