As sad as I was for my son to graduate […]
As sad as I was for my son to graduate from his infant car seat, receiving the Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+ made me more excited about his progression to a convertible seat. The safety features were the primary reason I looked forward to the transition: The headrest has an advance air cushion system, and the seat comes equipped with patented G-Cell foam in hexagonal shapes. These features work together to keep your child’s whole body safe in the event of a side impact.
Because rear-facing is recommended for as long as possible, the fact that the Advance SE 65 Air+ is suitable from 5-40 pounds and 19-40 inches in the rear-facing position also appealed to me. Forward-facing, the seat accommodates children who weigh 22-65 pounds and measure 29-49 inches. So this car seat should be the only one we need for a while!
I needed to keep all of these things in mind to rationalize the size of the car seat. The Advance SE 65 Air+ is so huge we weren’t sure it would fit in the backseat of our Honda CR-V. Once we confirmed it would, though, it was generally smooth sailing. The manual was simple to understand, with straightforward wording and helpful pictures. One piece of helpful information that the manual did not cover is the weight limit for using the removable body pillow. However, after contacting Safety 1st, we learned it’s solely for rear-facing use.
Assembly isn’t required. All you need to do is install the seat. The manual includes color-coded pages for installing the car seat for rear-facing (green) and forward-facing (blue) positions, which match the colors of the corresponding belt paths on the seat itself. These instructions make it extremely easy to follow; just choose which method you want to use: LATCH, lap or lap/shoulder belts.
For rear-facing use, there are two ground lines on the side of the seat. The child’s weight determines which ground line needs to be level. You can achieve this feat by using a red lever on the back of the seat to recline it in one of four positions.
For forward-facing use, only the first recline position can be used. The LATCH system is safe for forward-facing installation if your child is less than 40 pounds. When the child’s weight exceeds that limit, you need to use either the lap or lap/shoulder belts.
Threading the belts through the seat took less than five minutes. After that, the hardest part of installation was making sure the belt was tightened sufficiently (the seat isn’t supposed to move more than one inch once installed properly). What finally worked for us was putting one knee on the seat and using an extra length of strapping looped through the attached belt to get extra leverage.
As noted before, the Advance SE 65 Air+ is quite large. It’s not as noticeable when positioned for a child who weighs more than 22 pounds, but when you need to recline the seat for smaller babies in the rear-facing position, it takes up a lot of space. It stands to reason that a convertible car seat so large would be heavy (and uncomfortable) to carry. Once it’s installed, we’re not budging it until it’s time to face forward.
On the bright side, there’s plenty of room for baby to grow. As if the foam design wasn’t enough for comfort, there’s also a cup holder included. One downside is that there aren’t shoulder pads to cover the harness straps. This caused some minor discomfort for our son until we ensured his shirt covered the strap area.
Making sure baby fits snugly is so easy, between the headrest adjustment lever and the harness-tightening strap. The no re-thread harness feature is possible thanks to the lever on the headrest (which can go in 10 positions!). It’s adjustable by squeezing the top of the headrest and moving it up or down, depending on your child’s height and the seat position. To tighten the harness, the strap at the foot of the seat just needs a good pull.
Removing the seat pad for cleaning is a chore because you need to take off the harness straps and buckle before adjusting the headrest and peeling the seat pad off. After that, it’s hand washable with soapy warm water. A good spot cleaning takes care of the harness straps and headrest.
The Advance SE 65 Air+ comes in three different styles, including St. Germaine, Twist of Citrus and Plumberry. They all appeal aesthetically, although I’d argue that St. Germaine (black with grey hexagons) is the only gender neutral of the bunch.
Pricewise, at $190, this convertible car seat is reasonable. You get an extremely safe ride that can see your child through his or her first years. If you have room to spare in your back seat and don’t want to spend a lot, I highly recommend the Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+ convertible car seat. Overall, we’re happy with it!
To buy: safety1st.com