Few items bought for our little ones see as much use as our car seats. We rely on them for peace of mind from the minute we leave the hospital, entrusted with the safety of those carefully counted fingers and toes (and everything else), until, years later, we transition those big kids into booster seats. I remember my husband wrangling the complex web of straps and buckles as he practiced strapping in stuffed animals in preparation for the big day (way easier than the ever-squirming infants who sought to defy all 5 points of the harness as we scrambled to properly strap them in under the watchful eye of the hospital discharge nurse). From the “bucket” seat that we carried in the crook of an arm, to the more toddler-friendly combination car seats, the transitions in the back seat of our car have mirrored the growth of the kids we’ve relied upon them to protect.
It’s no wonder that long debates have been held regarding the pros and cons of various car and booster seats. Like everything used on such a frequent basis, we each develop our own preferences based on our routines and experiences (heavily influenced, of course, by the opinions that somehow sprout unexpectedly from the precious cargo themselves). We hit a milestone this summer when the car seats our youngest inherited from his older brother finally hit their manufacturer-imposed expiration dates (you knew they expired, right?). Our little guy is, although 4 years old, a bit on the small side for the transition to a booster seat (there may be parental disagreement in our house on this subject, but *I’m right*), so we found ourselves once again checking out car seats in the baby aisles of our local superstore.
One of our first stops for researching car seats was the Car Seat Finder from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is a great site that allows you to enter your child’s birthdate, weight and height to get a customized recommendation regarding which type of car seat is best for your child. The site showed our son was probably still going to fit in a forward-facing car seat for about 2 more years (and since he is on the smaller side of average, I think that’s probably right). The site also provides an ‘Ease of Use’ report for each car seat model. I like to especially check the ‘securing the child’ rating since that “Examines the ease of using features that pertain to securing a child correctly in the restraint” (that’s the part that we have to do correctly many times a day, even when distracted or sleep-deprived!).
We recently had the opportunity to review the Graco Extend2Fit(R) Platinum car seat and we were happy to jump on the opportunity since it was one of our top choices after a lot of searching and debating. The Extend2Fit had a 5-star ease of use rating from the NHTSA.gov site for ‘securing the child’, so that was a big plus! Some of the many great features that sold us on the Extend2Fit Platinum were:
- Cup holders!
- EZ Tight(TM) LATCH
- RapidRemove(TM) cover
- 10-year lifespan
- One-hand adjustable headrest
- The extendable foot rest was a cool feature that grabbed my attention, but upon reading further, can’t be used in the forward-facing orientation
The instruction booklet made a great first impression with color-coded instructions for rear-facing (blue) or forward-facing installation (orange). There were a few bobbles on our side as we prepared for installation, mostly because ‘someone’ skims directions more than they should. I was concerned about removing the seat cover to install the mandatory cup holders (or ‘trash cans’ as my son excitedly remarked when he first saw his new seat!) and to move the LATCH straps from the default rear-facing path to the forward-facing path. This was really hard for me to visualize just by reading through the instructions, but it was easier than I thought and the RapidRemove cover made it extra simple. This is a feature that I”m sure we will use a lot as it will be so easy to clean up little boy messes and spills. I also loved the one-hand adjustable headrest – this is huge help as it seems I’m always noticing a growth spurt has kicked in just as we are rushing off in the morning. The headrest is easily adjusted in one easy motion, even with the child in the seat – bonus!
The EZ Tight(tm) Latch was also as awesome as advertised. My husband tends to be the primary car seat installer in our home, mostly because I hate straddling the seat and fighting to tighten the LATCH straps. The EZ Tight LATCH made it super-easy to get the seat tightened properly – simply push the retractor button to preliminarily tighten the straps and then push down on the seat to allow the retractor to tighten even more. When the retractor stops clicking (and you confirm the seat moves less than 1 inch when you try to wiggle it from side-to-side and front-to-back), you’re all set! This was so simple and easy!
The extendable foot rest is intended to help keep kids backwards facing for longer, as they often seem uncomfortable once their legs extend beyond the edge of the car seat. Since our son is older, he is already forward facing, but I would have loved to have had this feature on our previous convertible car seat. (Remember, it’s not only safer for kids to ride backward facing, but the sooner they face the front, the sooner their dangling feet are tempted to kick the bejesus out of the back of the seat in front of them. Over. And Over. And Over. And with muddy feet. Believe me, everybody is better off delaying this source of family irritation.)
We’ve used the Extend2Fit(tm) Platinum seat now for a couple of months. We’ve taken several long drives (5+ hours) and my little guy is still thrilled with his new seat. I’m pretty happy with it too and wish we had tried it earlier.
Interested in giving the Graco Extend2Fit Platinum a try? Here are 2 ways you might be able to get an even greater deal on this awesome car seat:
- Sign up for the Graco newsletters. You’ll get email notifications of discounts (they are currently offering 20% off strollers and travel systems). Look for the newsletter subscription option at the bottom of the Graco website.
- April and September are usually months that Target offers a ‘trade-in’ programs where you can recycle your old car seat for a 20% discount on a new one. Here are some details about the program Target and Terracycle are offering for September 10-23 <link>. (Here’s a hint: Don’t have a car seat to trade-in? Check craigslist.org or freecycle.org in your area to see if you can score a free one – Just remember that it isn’t recommended to actually use a second-hand seat for protecting your child unless you are very confident you know it’s history and condition.)
Product received, thank you to Graco & PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.