Welcome to our little space on the net! This blog is just about our family life, and began as a way to keep family and friends updated on what was going on with my pregnancy with our first son, Gage. We've since added Evie to our family, and I continue to blog about family life, car seats, spina bifida, and anything else that catches my attention.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

The First Years True Fit, Initial Review

So, I've just had my First Years True Fit for a few hours, but I thought I would go ahead and post my initial impression and installation thoughts with pics. I'll update after we've used it for a little while. I also had to use my camcorder without a flash to get these pics as my camera seems to be missing at the moment. I'll do installed pics when I find my real camera. It's too dark in the garage!

This seat rear-faces to 35lbs, forward faces to 65lbs. It has a removable headrest that can be removed until the child is 22lbs or his head is within an inch of the top of the shell. This allows the full 45 degree recline required for a little baby. Once a baby is as old as Gage is, the recline doesn't have to be as much, so replacing the headrest isn't as big a deal as far as space goes, because the seat can be more upright. It has high top harness slots- the specs say that they are a little lower than the Britax Marathon and Boulevard, but a tech tested this, and once installed, it is actually functionally higher than the Britax seats. This is important since most kids outgrow seats by height first. Gage will be able to use this seat for a long, long time.


Out of the Box
The fabric and padding is really soft and plush. It seems really comfy. It would be doubly so for a tiny baby because the infant insert is really nice as well. The cover comes off really easily with the snaps. The headrest snaps in easily, too.


with the infant insert


without (but with the head pillow thing)


I like the chest clip. It's easy enough to do 1-handed, but I don't think Gage will figure it out for a while.
I like that the crotch strap adjusts to 3 positions very easily and without uninstalling the seat. Gage uses the middle one. According to the manual, the furthest one out is for kids 50lbs+. This is it in the middle position.


The harness adjusts without rethreading. It's really easy. You just pull out on the yellow knobs on either side of the seat and move it up or down. You don't even have to uninstall the seat to do it!
The manual seems fine for me, because I know a little about car seats, but it might not be really clear for someone else. I even found a typo in the one I have. I did like that they emphasized extended rear facing (past the old 1 and 20lbs rule). They were clear about harness tightness and the use of after-market products as well.

The harness is one strap that goes from one shoulder, down by one hip, up by the other, then out by the shoulder. Because of this, I can see where someone might get frustrated that the straps weren't even. I had read a previous review and knew about it, so it wasn't a problem.

Here is my model:


Installation

I drive a 2006 Ford Explorer.

Seatbelt

I tried to install it RF in the center with a seatbelt and was unsuccessful. The seatbelt latch plate got in the way of the lock-off on that side. I didn't think we had unusually long belt stalks, so I was a little miffed by this. I also had trouble closing the other one over both belts. I just couldn't get it compressed enough to close. We worked at it for a while. I could loosen the belt a little and try, but then it wouldn't be tight enough. Anyway, we decided to scrap it and just try an outboard install with LATCH.

UPDATE: I just found out that you can twist the seat belt stalk up to 3 times to shorten it. I also found out that I might be able to install with just the lab belt through the lock-offs and lock the seat belt in place. I haven't gotten exact details on that yet, but I am going to try it when I do and I will let you know how it goes.

LATCH
This was easy. When we started out, I thought we were going to have to move the passenger seat up quite a bit, but when tightly installed, there is plenty of room. The LATCH connectors are really nice ones...I have never used a Britax seat, but I think they're the same.
Some reviews have complained about not being able to pull at the right angle to tighten the strap, but I had no problem. I just threaded the tail back up through the seat so it was coming out of the side of the pad by the lockoff (so I was pulling up on it). I got it in rock solid. It won't budge. The lockoffs were easy with just the 1 belt through. You pretty much need to get the straps at the tightness they need to stay RF because the adjuster is pushed into the seat back when installed. I left the strap out where I could get to it so I can yank on it to tighten it a little if it gets a little loose, but this is something I would change if I could. The directions say to remove the cover to route the seatbelt or LATCH belt, but there are 2 little openings that you can see through to install just fine and it is hard to snap the cover back down while installed since they are against the back seat.

Overall I really like this seat. It fits our needs really well and I think it will be nice for Gage for many years. If this had be available when he was born, I might have just gotten it and skipped the baby bucket seat. It's much more plush. The only issue would have been the hand full of times we took his seat inside a restaurant or something. We will eventually need to be able to install using the seat belt but that will be when he turn forward-facing, and I don't anticipate needing to do that for quite a while (not until he hits the 35lb rear-facing weight limit). Maybe soon I will try to install it FF and review that process as well. The FF lockoff is different than the RFing one, so it may be a little better.

Any questions? Just ask!

3 comments:

Ashley said...

Very interesting! I've thought about not getting an infant seat and just going for the UT Britax one.

Emmilu said...

looks nice... i'll be awaiting more reviews

Adalynn said...

This is the seat that Maebrie got as well. I don't know if Jamie has installed yet or not? I will refer her to your site.