Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat

Product Reviews Approval Seal

Best for Families looking for a convertible car seat with an expandable height (ideal for smaller vehicles) or a lighter-weight car seat that’s easier to move between vehicles
Top benefits Most harness height adjustment can be made without rethreading, plush padding, machine-washable and dryer-safe seat pad and headrest pad
Considerations Adjustment of harness height for newborns requires re-threading, undoing the chest clip and harness buckle require some strength
Bottom line The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat has a lot of great features: it offers a plush, comfy ride for kids, has machine-washable covers and is one of the lighter car seats on the market, making installation a little less laborious

Features

  • Padded body pillow for infant protection and support
  • Harness holders to keep straps out of the way as you're putting your child into the seat
  • Machine-washable and dryer-safe seat pad and headrest pad
  • 2 dishwasher-safe cup holders
  • Expires 10 years from manufacture date
  • Approved for use on aircraft

Tech Specs

WEIGHT OF CAR SEAT
  • 18.66 lbs.
DIMENSIONS
  • Width: 18 inches
  • Height: 24 inches, extends to 29.5 inches
WEIGHT AND HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS
  • Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs., 19-40 inches
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs., 29-49 inches
  • Booster seat: 40-100 lbs., 43-52 inches
HARNESS
  • 5-point harness
  • Separate harness shoulder slots for infants and small babies (requires rethreading)
  • 4-position harness height and headrest adjustment—no rethreading required
SAFETY FEATURES
  • Polypropylene PDE plastic shell
  • Air Protect featuring polystyrene in the headrest to protect the head and cervical spine

Review

The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat is one sweet ride: it’s loaded with plush padding, comes equipped with not one but two cup holders, has a machine-washable and dryer-safe seat pad and converts to a booster seat so you can use it until your kid hits 100 pounds. Our editors and parent testers found it relatively easy to install this car seat and the majority of parents were impressed with the quality of this car seat.

Like all the car seats we tested, the Safety 1st Grow and Go has been crash tested by the manufacturer and approved for use in Canada by Transport Canada and Health Canada. Given the rigorous testing that car seats go through to get approved, we focused our testing on the car seat’s quality of materials, comfort, ease of installation and use, and the value for the cost.

EASE OF INSTALLATION WITH UAS (A.K.A. LATCH)

Figuring out whether UAS or seat belt installation is best might take a little trial and error. Your car seat and vehicle could be incompatible with one type of installation, and you’ll also want to think about your routines—especially if you need to move the car seat from one vehicle to another. A good user manual can make a world of difference when you’re installing a car seat, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro. The Safety 1st Grow and Go manual includes user-friendly diagrams, plus colour-coded sections in the manual correspond with features on the car seat, which we found super helpful.

Step one of installing this car seat is threading the UAS connector belt through the appropriate belt paths, and we found this simple for both the rear- and forward-facing installations. If you’re installing the car seat in the rear-facing position, you’ll have to adjust the recline of the seat, ensuring the level line on the side of the car seat is parallel to the ground. Our parent testers found it easy to do this, though it took a bit of effort in our lab installation and ultimately required using a piece of a foam pool noodle to get the seat level—which just goes to show that installation can differ from vehicle to vehicle. (Like a lot of other car seat manufacturers, Safety 1st allows you to use a foam pool noodle cut down to size or a tightly rolled towel under the front of the car seat to achieve the appropriate recline angle. Tip: If you’re using a towel, roll it and then secure it with packing tape to ensure it stays nice and tight.)

Once you’ve got the car seat level, you’ll need to connect the UAS connectors to the anchors in your vehicle and tighten the UAS belt. Our editors and parent testers had no difficulty attaching or detaching the connectors; you just need to press the connectors onto your vehicle’s anchors to attach and push a button to release. In our lab testing, we struggled a bit when it came to tightening the UAS belt so the car seat wouldn’t budge more than an inch in each direction, but removing the seat padding gave us more leverage to push down and get a tighter fit. When you’re installing the seat forward-facing, you can also place a knee in the seat and use your body weight to add more pressure (but don’t thrust your knee or a foot into any car seat as it can compromise the structure). Our parent testers reported that they needed to move their passenger seats forward a little to make room for the car seat in the rear-facing position.

Take a look at your vehicle’s manual before you buy a car seat. Some manufacturers have dos and don’ts that conflict with some car seats’ installation instructions. The car seat you’re eyeing could even be completely incompatible with your vehicle—and you don’t want to find that out after you’ve made a pricey non-refundable purchase.
EASE OF INSTALLATION WITH SEAT BELT

We found installing the Safety 1st Grow and Go with the seat belt virtually seamless and easier than the UAS installation. Getting the car seat reclined and level for rear-facing or flush with the seat back for forward-facing is the same as with the UAS installation. Again, the belt paths on the car seat are colour-coded to match the manual, so it’s easy to figure out where the seat belt feeds through.

Once you’ve fed the belt through and buckled it—making sure you don’t twist the belt in the process (twisting makes it less strong under the stress of a crash)—you’ll need to lock it. Newer vehicles have a locking mechanism built into the seat belts, which will hold the car seat securely in place. To engage the locking mechanism, you’ll need to slowly pull the seat belt all the way out and then let it retract; you’ll hear the belt clicking as it retracts and locks. Again, you’ll need to make sure the belt doesn’t twist as you’re doing this. If your vehicle doesn’t have locking belts, you’ll need a locking clip to install this car seat.

Tightening the seat belt in the rear-facing position is a bit more work than in the forward-facing position because you can’t get leverage as easily. Our editors found they needed to lean their hips against the back of the car seat as they tightened the seat belt to adequately secure the seat. Parent testers told us that installing the car seat rear-facing with the seat belt was being very easy. They had zero trouble tightening the seat belt until it was taut and flat against the car seat. Similar to our experience, keeping the seat cover off for tightening helped a lot. If you’re installing this car seat forward-facing, it’s an even easier install because a knee can be placed in the seat to compress while tightening. Again, a properly installed car seat shouldn’t budge more than an inch in each direction when you try to move it at the belt path.

SECURING THE TETHER FOR FORWARD-FACING

When you’re installing the car seat in the forward-facing position, you’ll need to also attach a tether strap to your vehicle’s tether anchor to help stabilize the car seat. Be sure to loosen the tether from its hook on the back of the car seat before you begin installation (it’ll be impossible to remove once the rest of the car seat is installed) and loosely attach it to the tether anchor. The tether anchor is usually on the back of the seat, on the floor behind the seat or on the shelf behind the rear seat (in a sedan), but check your vehicle’s manual to locate the correct anchor in your vehicle. Tightening the tether strap—which you do after you’ve tightened the UAS belt or seat belt—is quite simple.

SIZE AND WEIGHT

At 24 inches tall, the Safety 1st Grow and Go’s height is pretty average in comparison to the other car seats we’ve tested. We really like the extendable headrest, which expands the seat height to 29.5 inches. It means the car seat is more compact when you’ve installed it rear-facing for an infant—making it less likely that you’ll have to move the vehicle’s front passenger seat forward to make room for the car seat—but it can grow with your child as the car seat can be installed more upright or forward facing.

If you need to fit two or three car seats into your vehicle, the width of the seats is pretty important. The Safety 1st Grow and Go is 19 inches across at its widest, so a lot of vehicles would be able to accommodate two of these car seats. But depending on the size and contour of your vehicle’s back seat, you might only be able to install one seat in the centre.

This car seat is one of the lightest convertible car seats we tested—it’s just 16 pounds—which is a plus if you need to move it from car to car fairly often.

SAFETY HARNESS

The chest clip and buckle on the harness of the Safety 1st Grow and Go are simple to use and don’t cause any painful pinching. While we found that the chest clip was a bit stiff and the five-point harness buckle required a little extra hand strength, but these things are fairly normal so little escape artists can’t undo the buckles mid-car ride. Adjusting the harness straps is a cinch—you simply pull a strap on the front of the seat to tighten and press a button and pull the shoulder straps toward you to loosen.

It’s really easy to tighten and loosen the straps—less effort than with our other car seat, which is a struggle.” —Nomi, mom of one

Easy-to-adjust harness height is a huge plus in a car seat. If you’re using this car seat with a newborn, you have to use the body pillow and re-threading is required to use the lower shoulder harness slots and to adjust the placement of the buckle. After your little one has grown enough to use the upper harness slots, the harness can be adjusted along with the headrest height with simple leavers—no re-threading required.

When your kid outgrows the highest shoulder height, you can use the Safety 1st Grow and Go as a seat belt-positioning booster. With some relatively simple adjustments, the harness is stored behind the seat pad, always available to use again if you need it for a smaller child.

For a safe ride when rear-facing, the shoulder straps must be positioned at or slightly below your child’s shoulders. Once your child is riding forward-facing, the straps need to be at or slightly above your kiddo’s shoulders.
FRAME AND FABRIC

This lightweight car seat has an exterior shell made of polypropylene (#5) plastic with energy-absorbing polystyrene to absorb energy in a crash. The fabric on the pads and pillows has a tight weave and is smooth and soft, and it’s made from polyurethane, foam and polyester fibres. During testing, we found rings and other jewellery can snag the fabric, and one of our parent testers noticed some minor snags in the car seat during the testing period. The pads and pillows are however easily removed when you need to give them a wash.

The headrest pad and seat pad are machine washable in cold water on a gentle cycle—but they should be washed separately from other items. They can also go in the dryer on low for 10 – 12 minutes, and should be removed immediately and placed back on the car seat. The body pillow for infants and the head pillow, however, need to be hand-washed and air dried, and the harness has to be spot-cleaned by hand with a damp cloth and warm soapy water.

CHILD’S COMFORT

The Safety 1st Grow and Go is like a small easy chair for your kiddo, with soft, plush padding and dual cup holders so your kid can have a drink and snack within arm’s reach at all times. (Plus, the cupholders are dishwasher safe.) All of our parent testers said the headrest is comfy for their child and they found it easy to adjust.

The added harness covers on the straps and the headrest are really great. Our son loves this car seat and always falls asleep in it!” —Stefanie, mom of one
FINAL WORD

A car seat that’s light enough to move between vehicles when needed, with lots of comfy padding and energy-absorbing features has a lot going for it. Most of our parent testers give the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat a very good rating for quality and felt their kid was safe and secure riding in it. Our editors, meanwhile, appreciated the adjustable height for easier installation in smaller vehicles when rear-facing, and the ease of the seat belt installation in particular. Plus, all of our testers feel this car seat deserves the Today’s Parent Approved seal and would recommend it to other parents or parents-to-be.

It’s important to try before you buy. As we found in our testing, there are all sorts of incompatibility issues between vehicles and car seats. The belt path could be too low, the tether might hang loose or a car seat’s height might interfere with the vehicle’s front seats. Or it just might be challenging for you to lift your kid into and out of a particular seat. Ask retailers if you can try installing the floor model in your vehicle to see if it’s a good fit. And when you’re buying a new vehicle, be sure to take your car seat to see if it’ll work—or be prepared to shell out for a new car seat if you love the car.