The Graco SmartSeat is the third review I’ve done on Graco models. There’s no denying that they have a great selection of infant and toddler car seats, and that they continue to be innovative. When it comes to research and design of new seats, the SmartSeat all-in-one is proof of that innovation.
This new car seat is a system that means a single seat can grow with your child from birth right through to 100 pounds. Graco has become the king when it comes to convertible car seats. Like the Nautilus and Nautilus Elite, the SmartSeat transforms from a rear facing seat for an infant, right up to a booster seat for an older child.
The Smart Base
The seat is built upon the foundation of something called the Smart Base. Whether you’re using your car seat in the front or rear facing position, the steel reinforced Smart Base is used. So when you first bring the car seat and baby home, you install the Smart Base, and assuming you don’t change cars in the ensuing years, the Smart Base stays in position.
Its design allows it to be installed either using the car seat belts or LATCH system. Like the Nautilus Elite, it also has a lock off system, making it easier to install securely.
Once it comes time to make the transition from a rear facing car seat to a forward facing seat, it’s quite easy to accomplish. Changing it from an infant car seat into a toddler car seat is a snap. On either side of the seat, you’ll find a knob. You turn them to release the seat from the base. As soon as you do that, hooks pop-up through the seat so that you can unlock it from the base. Once you’ve got the seat turned around and are ready to reattach it, just adjust the side knobs once again.
As confirmation that you have the seat securely locked into position, the Smart Base has a locking indicator that will let you know when it’s locked. There’s also a level on the car seat. Once you’ve installed the seat simply check the level to make sure you have it at the correct angle when in rear facing position.
The seat has five different recline positions, and not every position may work for every vehicle. So once you’ve installed the seat and adjusted it make note of which positions are acceptable for your vehicle.
Rear Facing Infant Seat
Assuming your baby wasn’t born premature or is just very tiny, he or she can come home from the hospital in the Graco SmartSeat. As a rear facing infant seat it will carry a baby from 5 pounds through to children who are 40 pounds.
Most pediatricians, safety experts, and car seat manufacturers now recommend using the rear facing seat for as long as possible. With a seat that allows you to keep it rear facing up until 40 pounds, it’s more likely that you will adhere to this.
Forward Facing Toddler Car Seat
If you choose to transition your seat to a forward facing seat for your toddler, you can do so as soon as they are 20 pounds. One great feature is your ability to adjust the length of the harness automatically. With some car seats, it’s very difficult to make this adjustment, as you have to rethread the harness. Not so with the SmartSeat. The headrest can be readjusted to six different positions.
It’s time for the third evolution of the SmartSeat. Once your child is 30 pounds, and it’s time to switch to the booster seat you can use your SmartSeat as a high-back booster using your car seat belt. You simply remove the Smart Base.
- All in one convertible seat
- Seat-to-base locking indicators and Easy-to-read level indicator.
- Fits infant 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing in a harness, fits toddler 20 to 65 pounds forward-facing in a harness and fits youth 30 to 100 pounds in a belt-positioning booster.
- Smart LATCH-equipped
- 1-hand height adjustable head rest and 5-position recline.
- Machine-washable cover. Convertible seat grows with your child
Pros and Cons
Due to its steel reinforced frame, keep in mind this is a heavy seat. Once you’ve put it in your car, you won’t be taking it out and carrying your child around in it. Another issue is the height of the seat once is sitting on the Smart Base. It may be difficult to lift your child up that high, depending on your vehicle. This is partially solved by the fact that the armrests flip up.