The new SafeSeat from Graco has arrived, and although it’s been a very quiet product launch, this is one of the most important new arrivals of 2006. Until now, parents have generally accepted that they will need a minimum of three car seats to get from infancy through childhood. Even under the new standards, infant car seats can accommodate babies up to 22 lbs. and 29 or 30 inches, depending on the model. Most babies outgrow these seats several months before they reach the two imperative milestones required to sit forward-facing in a car, their first birthday and a weight of 20 lbs.
From the infant seat, babies generally move into a convertible seat, which can start rear-facing and then be turned around. Finally, after they outgrow these seats (usually between 40-65 lbs.), they move to a belt-positioning booster, where they’ll stay until they are old enough, big enough and mature enough to use just a seatbelt.
The Graco Snugride is already the bestselling infant car seat in America, but with the SafeSeat, they have broken through the glass ceiling on the weight and height requirements for car seats, managing an impressive 30 lb. weight limit and 32″ height limit. It may not sound like much of a difference, but the SafeSeat will accommodate even a 95th percentile baby up to (and beyond) the first 12 months. No other infant seat on the market can do this.
Why not? The competition is wondering the same thing. From what we’ve been told, the official testing facilities are only equipped to certify seats according to the current standards. I’m trying to get some more information about how Graco went about developing and approving this seat, but if it’s bad news for the competition, it’s probably good news for parents.
Theoretically, now parents who invest in the SafeSeat will be able to go straight into a forward-facing car seat, like the Britax Regent or the Recaro Young Sport, which converts from a 5-point harness to a belt-positioning booster. The only potential downside is this: carrying around a toddler in a 10 lb. car seat will get very, very heavy. Good thing the SafeSeat will fit into any Graco stroller that already accommodates the Snugride.
We are in the process of testing other manufacturer’s car seat adaptors to see if they too are compatible with the SafeSeat. I will post our findings here soon.