As a child passenger safety specialist, the Graco Extend2Fit car seat is the type of seat I’ve been waiting for. Many multi-stage car seats are complete with the right pivot bases, build up and pull off options you’d want out of your seat choice. However, laws aside, your child’s growth tends to dictate when your seat is ready to move onto the next phase. It should never be this way. My recommendation is always that you should be rear facing your child for as long as possible, regardless of whether Canadian laws tell you that they only have to be rear facing for a year. The Graco Extend2Fit is the first seat I’ve seen that advertises extending legroom capabilities (and proper weight accommodation) so that your child can rear face.
Why rear face your car seat longer?
Transport Canada says that the minimum period of time in which you should rear face your child is 12 months before moving them over to front face. However, it’s recommended that you rear face your child for a minimum of 24 months if not longer. Parents often wonder whether a child’s legs pushing up to the ends of the seat are safe for them and tend to use this as the talking point to forward face a seat. The truth is, even for an 18 or 24 month old, rear facing still provides the safest injury prevention in accidents, as stated by pediatrician Ben Hoffman of the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Oregon.
The trouble is that it becomes increasingly difficult for your child to fit into a rear face in the first place as they get older. I’m not immune to this. My daughter was 3 feet tall before her first birthday and even now at age 3 ½ is a head taller than some of her friends at daycare. The seat in our SUV thankfully allowed us to rear face her until she was 3 but it was sheer luck.
With these safety implications in mind, it’s time to take a look at whether the Extend2Fit takes care of this adequately and whether your growing (or tall) babies will get benefit of this.
The Seating Stages of Graco Extend2Fit
The Graco Extend2Fit car seat does have a little bit more of a limited shelf life than All-in-One or 3 / 4-in-1 car seats. There are 2 main stages to the Extend2Fit seat as follows:
- Rear-Facing – 4-50 lbs
- Forward-Facing – 22-65 lbs
While it doesn’t support back/backless booster phases, this shouldn’t deter you from looking at a seat like this. For starters, a 4lb weight basement on a car seat is great news. Most seats start at 5lbs, so if you do have a very light child you need to bring home from the hospital, rest assured that this seat has been tested for such.
The biggest selling point in my opinion is the rear facing support as I mentioned above. These features alone make this seat a winner to me. My daughter was 36 inches tall by her first birthday and it made rear facing in a passenger sedan very difficult. This seat would have made it possible and would have my life a lot easier than constantly driving her around in an SUV for 2 years until we felt comfortable forward facing her.
In addition to the two stage approach, the seat also has 10 different head and neck rest position options, 6 reclining options, 2 optional cup holders, a machine washable and fully removable cover and uses Graco’s INright latching system.
The ease of Installation of the Graco Extend2Fit
The INright latching system is one of best car seat features ever for parents. The latch system allows you to simply push it up against the universal anchor tether (UAT) system until it snaps in. Un-installation is just as easy with just the push of a button and pull release. The connection to the tether is still just as strong as the regular, less convenient but more traditional systems you see.
While installing, please be mindful of the requirements for proper tethers to front face as well. If your vehicle is newer than model year 1996, you’re well on your way and should have everything you need. If it’s older, you may not have the top tether. Your dealership may have first party retrofitting kits, but if not, you can usually find one at your local major hardware store. If you also do not have child lock seatbelts (something you’ll need if you belt path install over UATs, you’ll have to use the additional hardware that comes with the seat to do a manual lock. Once again, most standard vehicles nowadays should have the automatic child lock.
The review video will show some of the basic elements of safety with this car seat, but doesn’t show installation itself. If you have difficulty installing the seat, reach out to your local police or fire safety as they may have an expert on staff to install the seat for you.
How does this seat support tall children better?
A traditional car seat doesn’t do a lot to support the legroom of growing children. You’ve usually got to work within the constraints of the swivel base, headrests and level position of the seat. Even then, you’re not necessarily supporting legroom itself. You’re just making sure that your child fits comfortably into the seat. What results is that they may move up into neckrest holes they’re not ready and may compromise the level of support they get from the seat. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but why do it if you don’t need to? The Extend2Fit has a 3 prong legrest base that pops out from just below the seat. Fully stretched, it provides up to 5 inches of additional legroom to your child without your having to finagle with the belts and harness placements. Your child can sit much more comfortably and you can drive without the worry of how comfortable you feel they are or aren’t.
How long will this seat last me?
One thing to keep in mind about the Extend2Fit is that you will need to eventually upgrade your seat to a booster. Unlike some of Graco’s other models, this is not a single point car seat that will last you from infancy to age 9. The Extend2Fit is only capable of baby and toddler years and your child will outgrow the seat’s support capabilities once they’re taller than 49 inches or over 65lb. Your child should be comfortably in primary school by the time you need to upgrade this seat.
That said, as mentioned, the seat supports children as small as 4 lbs, which is the lowest weight support that I have ever seen for a common seat. With rear facing support up to 50lbs, that’s the best in class that I’ve ever seen and many average children can rear face up to the age of 3 with the added height boost bonuses.
Why the Extend2Fit is a good seat for you
I do like the Extend2Fit for a few reasons. It’s a very comfortable car seat for your child to sit in and it’s easy on you, the parent, from a few different aspects. A 50lb rear facing limit means it provides the highest level of rear facing safety possible. The extendable leg rests mean that you can rear face longer without making your child feel cramped or uncomfortable. While it doesn’t last your child the entire 9 years that they will need a car seat, it does have a 10 year lifespan, which means that a second child will definitely get use out of it before expiration.
We used this seat in one of our vehicles for a week (forward facing) and my daughter had no complaints at all. The cup holders do tend to be a bit bothersome to her (especially since she likes to climb into the seats by herself and gets her feet stuck here and there) and I left them off but she had no complaints otherwise. Myself as her dad really appreciates how easy this seat is to install and of course, that she’s fine and wasn’t uncomfortable at any point.
At the end of the day, the innovative Graco Extend2Fit is easy for everybody and it’s a great choice for your car seat needs. You can pick up the Graco Extend2Fit now online at BestBuy.ca