The Safety 1st Grow and Go (3-in-1 Car Seat) – Discover the Pros and Cons in our 2021 review

Grow and Go All-in-One Car Seat

Over thirty years ago (1984 to be precise), Safety 1st released the famous yellow diamond sign that read “Baby on Board.” It’s hung in millions of cars over the years. Since then, as the name suggests, this company has put safety first and foremost in all their products.

In recent years, they’ve become philanthropic, donating to parent-founded charities such as The Way Home, Inc. and longer-running organizations like the March of Dimes.

What makes this company stand out is probably their participation in popular events, such as Mom 2.0 and The Biggest Baby Shower. They were also a proud sponsor of Safe Kids Day, highlighting all the work of Safe Kids Worldwide, including a valuable message about preventable injuries.

Using the proper car seat and installing it correctly is one of the biggest ways to prevent injuries to your child. That’s why we’re taking a look at the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 convertible car seat. Does it live up to the standards of Safety 1st, and most importantly, does it live up to yours? Let’s take a closer look.

Why choose a convertible seat?

rear-facing position

First, you need to know the difference between infant seats, 3-in-1 seats and convertible seats. Infant seats are always rear-facing and are usually designed to safely hold preemies as low as 4 lbs up to a maximum of 30 lbs. Once your child outgrows this, it’s no longer an option.

Convertible seats are those that you can use rear-facing to begin with, and then switch it to a forward-facing seat when your child is ready. These car seats last until your child is 60-90 lbs, more or less.

Some brands (like Safety 1st) use the 3-in-1 term for a convertible seat. However, brands differ in that the 3-in-1 seat in some instances cannot be used rear-facing and instead is a seat that transitions forward into a backless booster. The seats have inserts for small toddlers, which can be removed when they’re big enough, and then the back of the seat can be removed to use as a backless booster when they’re ready for a booster seat.

How do you decide which is best? Consider these questions:

  • Is this your first child or do you have a newborn? Consider starting with an infant seat, as some experts believe they are the safest options for very young babies.
  • Is this your last child? Consider starting with a convertible seat so it will grow with your baby and you won’t need to buy a second (or third) seat for her.
  • Will you be switching cars a lot? Many convertible seats don’t have a base that allows you to carry the baby from one car to the next. This means you’ll have to pick up a sleeping baby and might disturb her or reinstall the seat every time you switch cars.
  • Are you on a tight budget? Convertible car seats will save you money in the long run so you won’t be buying two or even three seats for her.
  • Do you have a small car? Convertible seats can be heavier and larger, so it could pose a challenge with front passenger leg room or if you need to seat 3 passengers in the backseat.

When looking for a convertible seat, pay special attention to ease of use. If the instructions aren’t clear or overly-complicated, chances are you could miss something and end up with an improperly installed seat. Your convertible seat should also have a 5-point harness and good side-impact protection.

What makes the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 different?

The Grow-and-Go is designed with ease of use in mind. This means not only installation, but daily usage and cleaning as well.

Key features

  • No-rethread, 5 position harness with separate newborn position (has to be rethreaded)
  • Infant insert with more head and neck support
  • An easy-to-remove, machine-washable cover
  • Harness holders that keep the straps out of the way when you’re getting your child in and out of her seat
  • 3 recline angles (with numbered guide on the side of the seat) to lessen the need for a pool noodle or towel for leveling
  • A level line to guide positioning
  • Can be used with lower anchors or seat belt in rear-facing position
  • QuickFit harness allows you to adjust the harness and headrest at the same time
  • 2 removable cup holders
  • 1 year warranty
  • 10-year lifespan before it expires
  • Earned a “Good Bet” rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

What are the child size ranges for the Safety 1st 3-in-1 convertible car seat?

The car seat built to GROW for extended use through 3 stages

Position Weight Height
1) Rear Facing 5-40 lbs 19-40 inches
2) Forward Facing 22-65 lbs 29-49 inches
3) High Back Booster 40-100 lbs 43-52 inches

* Note that there are other Grow and Go car seat models, including the Grow and Go Air Sport and the Grow and Go EX Air. They have identical weight limits, except for the EX Air. In the rear-facing position, the EX Air has a weight range from 5 – 50 lbs instead of 5 – 40. They also tend to be more expensive than the original Grow and Go.

How big is this seat, and will it work with your vehicle?

As we mentioned before, there is no separate base and the seat will not work as a portable infant carrier. Though it is designed to offer extra leg room for front seat passengers, it may still be bulkier than most infant seats in the rear-facing position and more of a challenge to fit comfortably in compact cars. Though it is FAA approved as a harness seat, it will be heavy and doesn’t fold up for easy carrying through an airport.

baby on booster
  • Height of shell w/ headrest: 26 inches
  • Newborn rethreaded harness position: 6 inches with insert
  • No-rethread harness height: 10 – 17 inches
  • Highest booster belt guide position: 18.5 inches
  • Seat depth: 12.5 inches
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs

Safety tip: A tricky thing to remember is that the LATCH anchor weight limit is 40 lbs. After that, you need to use the seat belt for installation. Install it from the beginning with the seat belt so you won’t accidentally forget to switch them out when your child reaches 40 lbs.

How safe is the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 convertible car seat?

The Grow and Go is designed to lengthen the time used as a rear-facing car seat, which is what most experts believe is the safest position for a young child. You may be eager to turn them forward facing because you’re worried about their leg room. Children are much more flexible and comfortable with their legs bent than adults. Crash data has proven a lower rate of leg injuries with rear-facing seats. Plus, they provide much better head and neck protection.

Some parents like forward-facing so it’s easier to hand food and drinks to their child while driving. Remember that turning back to hand your child a snack is a distraction, much like texting. If a young child is snacking in the car seat while you’re driving, it also increases the risk of choking, and will delay your response time. Save the snacks for when they’re older and can help themselves.

There are a few good safety features to remember. Grow and Go has removable infant padding to ensure a better harness fit while in the infant (lowest) harness position. You must use this insert while using the infant harness position, which could mean using it until your baby is around 6 to 9 months. As a booster, the high back and shoulder belt positioner helps you adjust the seat belt to the safest position for a booster seat rider.

As the biggest manufacturer of child restraints, Safety 1st uses extensive crash testing to ensure they exceed federal safety standards.

Real-mom testimonials support the safety standards of the Grow and Go. One mom reported the car seat did great in a 45 mph crash. Her toddler (18 months) was perfectly fine and even slept through the accident.

Possible flaws: Several parents reported they had difficulty tightening the straps in the rethreaded (infant) position, so the car seat flopped around. Others could not get a proper recline angle so the child’s head wasn’t supported enough while sleeping. Both of these issues could be due to a flaw in the car seat design or with the model of car and type of backseat (i.e. bucket seats). If in doubt, call the company or do some research to see if your vehicle is compatible with this seat.

A few people didn’t like the wide chest clip because it made their baby uncomfortable and left marks on the skin. One parent in Arizona said the chest clip melted and warped in the heat while they weren’t in the vehicle.

The seat pad is machine washable and dryer safe so parents find it easy to clean. The pad has snaps that make it simple to take it on and off the seat for cleaning without having to remove the harness. Previously this car seat had fixed cupholders, but the new model has removable cupholders that are easy to take off and dishwasher safe.

How hard is the Grow and Go 3-in-1 to install?

Keeping the recline and belt positions accurate could be a challenge for new parents. There are 3 recline positions to help children find a comfortable ride. For newborns who need head support, you must fully recline the seat to position 3. For older babies and toddlers in the rear-facing position, you can use recline positions 1 or 2. Then in the forward facing and booster mode, the seat back must be upright and reclined positions should only be used to keep it flush against the vehicle seat. Always consult the owner’s manual when installing.

The 5 position no-rethread harness slots are only for older babies and toddlers. While your child is a newborn and young infant, you’ll need to use the infant (lowest) rethread harness slots. This means you’ll have to manually thread the harness through these slots. For new parents who’ve never had experience with rethreading car seat straps, there’s a higher chance of incorrect installation. You very well may need some help from experienced parents to get it right.

Since getting these straps tight enough is an issue for several people, you may want to consider using an infant car seat for your newborn and then switch to this one when she’s big enough to use the 5-point no-rethread harness positions.

Possible flaws: Parents discovered the splitter plate sometimes got stuck on some plastic ribs between the bottom of the seating area and base, which could be why it’s so hard to tighten them for some people. This may or may not have been addressed by the company. Call and ask them and be sure to check for product recalls as well.

Optional Accessories

While there aren’t any specific add-ons for the Grow and Go, here are a few things other parents like to use with it:

Munchkin Auto Seat ProtectorNot only does this protector keep your vehicle seats cleaner, but the non-skid surface helps prevent the car seat from slipping, which could be very handy if you have slick vinyl or leather seats. The front pocket is great with the booster position for storing crayons, small books, tissues, and snacks for your older toddlers.

Lebogner Car Seat Protector + Kick Mat Seat Back Protector – If you have a problem with the forward facing child who always kicks the seat in front of her, leaving dirty shoe marks all over the upholstery, this combo pack is a great option. The seat back protector also has pockets to keep storing crayons, coloring books, etc. within easy reach of your child for those long car trips.

Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup – For the older toddlers who can handle cups easily, you can make use of the Grow and Go’s cup holders with this non-spill, spout-free, 360 degree drinking edge cup! It comes in a 2 pack and is BPA free, plus the handles make it easier for small hands to hold.

Best Car Seat Hub’s Final Verdict

Let’s sum up the positives and negatives about the Grow and Go 3-in-1.

  • 3-in-1 use as rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seat to fit a wide age and size range
  • Easy booster conversion for vehicle belt use with storage for harness straps
  • Quick fit 5-position harness makes it easy to secure your baby as she grows
  • Harness holders keep the straps out of the way so you can get your baby in and out without getting tangled in loose straps
  • Provides more front seat leg room in the rear-facing position than other car seats on the market
  • 12 Attractive colors to choose from
  • Easy to remove machine-washable and dryer safe cover
  • 10-year expiration
  • Made in USA
  • Newborn straps must be rethreaded and are hard to tighten for a lot of parents
  • Takes up more space when fully reclined (rear-facing) so it might lessen the front passenger leg room
  • May not fit well or at all in compact cars or in certain vehicle seat types such as bucket seats.
  • Can’t use LATCH with the booster option
  • Wide chest clip may be uncomfortable for some babies

As a convertible car seat, the Grow and Go does the job, but may be better for children old enough to use the 5-position harness as opposed to the newborn setting. For use with older children in rear, forward and booster modes, it’s a great option.

The IIHS rated it a “good bet” for the booster seat setting, and there are positive testimonials from moms who were in car crashes, so we are pretty confident in the safety features. It’s also more affordable than many other convertible seats.

Grow and Go Go 3-in-1

We love the fact that the cover is easy to remove and machine wash. Moms will definitely appreciate that feature, but we’d like the cup holders to be removable for dishwasher cleaning as well.

If you have a compact car or a newborn, this is probably not the seat for you. We recommend an infant seat for the littlest ones. Do your research to find out if your car is compatible with the Grow and Go, and check for product recalls.

Overall, the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 convertible car seat is a solid option for older babies, toddlers, and young elementary age children, especially if you don’t want to spend the time and money changing car seats every few months. It’ll last through several growth spurts, which will happen quicker than you realize.

Check Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Price

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)


  1. Frustrated dad says:

    How the hell do I put the straps back into my safety first grow and go sprint car seat. I pretty much know but how does the main shoulder strap cross under the back bottom of the seat

  2. Andrea says:

    Which level is best for 7 1/2 month old who is sitting up

  3. D B says:

    This car seat sucks especially for rear facing. So many people have issues trying to tighten it. It’s in many reviews regarding the difficulty. DO NOT BUY. DANGEROUS

  4. chelsea l howie says:

    I think I’ve read all the reviews however my problem is not the same as everyone’s. my seat was purchased about 10 months ago and we purchased it at Walmart for my granddaughter.
    There’s a little gray pieces on the left and right side which are supposed to hold the belt buckles back. The piece came off i did not notice that the piece came off until the screw that was holding the piece on came through the cushion and stabbed me in my arm. I’m not really sure why they have a screw this large holding an item that’s small on a car seat. I contacted the company and I was told that they will send me another carseat if I destroy and send pictures of the one that I have the issue with. now my question is what the hell am I supposed to ride my granddaughter around in until they get me a car seat here. I’ve sent them the serial numbers I sent you a picture of the sticker I send them a picture of the carseat I send them a picture of where the screw is protruding through the cushion on the car seat and they are still asking me to destroy the car seat in order for them to replace it with a new one. I think this is the stupidest idea.This screw could have harmed my granddaughter she literally could have poked her eye out on this screw because she’s at the age where she’s getting in and out the car seat herself had it not got me first this could have been really bad. it may need to be recalled and they may need to rethink this 2 inch screw that they have in there.

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Chelsea, thanks for your email and sorry for the issues you’ve been having. It is important to dismantle a broken car seat, so we can understand why they’d ask you to do that. There are several places you can recycle the seat rather than destroying it yourself. This website has tips and locations for both recycling and disposing:

      You have a few options for getting another seat to use, at least temporarily, while you await the replacement. One is to borrow a car seat from a trustworthy friend or relative.

      You can also rent a car seat through a business such as They operate in 31 states and are run by local parents and grandparents. If you have one close enough to you, they can even deliver it.

      You can also invest in a new seat, since it’s always a good idea to have an extra seat on hand. You didn’t mention how old she is, but we have listings for the most affordable infant and convertible seats that will save you money:

      Best wishes to you and your granddaughter!

    2. Pam Bankston says:

      Dear Chelsea, The answer from the manufacture is BS. They should send you a new seat and then pay for you to send the old seat back to them. This is a perfect example of TERRIBLE customer service. You should put your post and the response on FB or somewhere so that consumers can see what a crap company this is. Good luck and thanks for the heads up on the dreadful customer service by Safety First. PPB

    3. Evelyn says:

      I can’t unbuckle the button is too hard to push…it should come with a gadget called unbuckle me that Amazon sells for $15.00….anyone else know another remedy ?

  5. Ann says:

    The headrest on my daughters car seat constantly rattles. Is there a way to fix that?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Ann, thanks for your question. Rattling in this seat has been an issue for some parents. But be sure to call Safety 1st Customer Care at 1-800-544-1108 to see if they can offer any help. A local car seat tech may also be able to help you figure out the issue.

  6. kyla Spindler says:

    I’m having issues getting this car seat level for my 3 month old daughter. I drive a suv and this has never happened

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Kyla, thanks for your comment. This has been one of the complaints with this seat. Some car seats that are more sloped than flat could impact the recline. Also, be sure you’re using the correct recline position – it should be in position 1. You can also call Safety 1st Customer Care at 1-800-544-1108 to see if they can offer any help. They can do live video chats to help you as well.

  7. Kellina says:

    My husband, myself and my two year old daughter were in a car accident. Our car ended up being total. We were hit as the cops estimate of 50-60mph. Every airbag deployed. My daughter, myself and my husband are all alive and here to tell our story today because of KIA.

    I have your Safety 1st Grow and Go to thank for my daughter. She walked away from the accident in one piece, she did experience some minor injuries from the seatbelts on the car seat and emotionally is still recovering but she is safe, she is home with me. SHE IS ALIVE. I have never been so impressed before. Your car seat saved my daughter’s life!

    Unfortunately, we need to buy a new seat now and as soon as we are able we plan to repurchase this same seat, and I plan to purchase it for future children and highly recommend it to all new moms! Thank you so much for your safety checks, and caring about my daughter.

    1. Marie Bynum says:

      So glad you’re okay! Your car insurance should replace the seat. I would check with them before purchasing a new one.

  8. Hollie says:

    We are on our second Grow n Go after the company replaced our first one. We are, again, experiencing the same issue we began having with the first one. The issue (addressed in this article) is that the seat is becoming almost impossible to tighten. (Our child is 2.5 years old.) Are there any solutions available for this issue? We’re wondering if maybe we should just purchase a different brand of car seat. We have a Graco seat in one vehicle and have never had issues with it.

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi, Hollie, thanks for your question. We discovered a few reasons why these seats may not tighten. First, you mentioned having a seat in another vehicle. With this particular seat, it may not be compatible with all car models. The splitter plate sometimes became stuck between the seating area and base, which prevented the straps from getting tight. You could call the company and see if your vehicle is compatible with that seat. It might be as simple as switching it to your other vehicle.

      Also, if your child is still rear-facing, he or she may be big enough now (at least 22 pounds and 29 inches) that you could turn them to forward-facing, which could make strap tightening easier.

      If neither of these is an option, we’d recommend trying another brand of car seat. Lot of people love the Britax Marathon ClickTight. The ClickTight system makes it easy to get the seat nice and tight. You can see more in our review here:

  9. Kim says:

    Just received the car seat and noticing it looks like the head area/pads will push the baby’s head forward. And if you remove the first set of head pads, there is a hard ridge feeling and the styrofoam under it is pretty firm. I can’t imagine that will go over very well if a child is uncomfortable during every ride. Have you gotten any feedback on those issues?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Kim, thanks for your question. If you’re using the infant (lowest) harness position, the manufacturer says you must use the infant insert. Usually this isn’t a problem as long as the seat has the proper recline. First, make sure you’re using the proper recline position. Newborns who need more head support must use recline position 1. The red level line on the side of the car seat should be parallel to the ground. Make sure the harness height is adjusted so the straps are at or just below the child’s shoulders. To get a better angle, some people have also used rolled up blankets or pool noodles under the car seat.

      If you’ve done all this and it looks like the baby’s head is still not at the right angle, the car seat may not be a great fit for your vehicle or the design of the back seats. For instance, customers have reported the seat is not compatible with vehicles such as a Honda HRV. Give Safety 1st customer care a call at 1-800-544-1108 and/or find a car seat inspection site so they can determine if the seat is installed at a proper angle:

    2. Rachel says:

      My 2 year old is complaining about how her back hurts every time she is in her car seat due to this ridge. I’ve been trying to find if anyone else’s child complained of discomfort and if there are and solutions.

  10. Lora Swenson says:

    We have been told that the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-n-1 Convertible is not safe. Can you explain what we should be looking for regarding national safety standards, and the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-n-1 Convertible ranking, and how we can be assured of it’s safety? Has it ever been recalled?

    Thank you

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Lora, thanks for your question. All car seats on the market must meet or pass federal safety standards, or they cannot be sold. We did find at least one customer who reported that this seat performed excellently in a 30-45 mph crash in which her 18 month old slept through it and was uninjured.

      There seem to be no current recalls as of Nov. 15, 1018, however keep this link on hand to check. The NHTSA keeps excellent up to date listings on current recalls for all kinds of car seats.

      Of course, if your pediatrician recommends that you use a different seat, or if you feel uneasy about it, it’s never a bad idea to purchase another brand.

  11. Mary says:

    I just had the same situation occur as you mentioned in your article about heat melting and bending one side of the chest clip while not in the vehicle. Didn’t even happen on the hottest day! Contacted the manufacturer and they indicated that as long as it still clips and locks it’s safe though they are happy to send a replacement at no charge 🙂

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Mary, thanks for your comment. We’re glad the company has offered a replacement, which is probably the best option since you’d rather be safe than sorry. As for the seemingly mild temperatures, we wrote an article for Live Grow Play Austin that shows how the inside of a car can climb to over 100 degrees F even on a 68 degree F day. So your situation is certainly possible.

    2. Joanna says:

      How do I get the number to claim ? My car seat belt doesn’t clip at all ?

    3. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Joanna, for any issues regarding your seat, please call Safety 1st Customer Care at 1-800-544-1108. Good luck!

  12. Eve M says:

    I just bought this car seat and it has a strong smell , Is this normal?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Eve, thanks for your question. This doesn’t seem to be a normal occurrence according to customer reviews, though we did find a couple of parents who noted a cigarette smoke smell and one who noticed a “medicine” type of scent. It could be chemicals from flame retardants or some other scent the product may have absorbed in the warehouse. Try contacting the seller and/or Safety 1st to ask for a replacement cover or for their recommendations on how to proceed. It could be that washing the cover itself will remove the smell, but contact them to be sure.

  13. Kaitelin says:

    I just bought this carseat for my three year old and on the tallest setting for the headrest his head is already above the headrest. I’m worried he’ll outgrow this to fast. Is it still safe for him if his head is already over the headrest?

  14. Metha Andayani says:

    I watched numeral videos on how to properly install rear facing with vehicle belt. But for some reason, the car seat keeps tilting during the drive. Any suggestion?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Metha, thanks for your question. There are a few things you can try to adjust the car seat’s tilt, and we recommend them in this order.

      1. Be certain to thoroughly read your owner’s manual for the seat to see if they have any specific troubleshooting tips.
      2. Call the manufacturer to see if they can offer specific advice depending on your car model, etc.
      3. Visit a local car seat technician or your pediatrician to see what they recommend.
      4. Some parents use objects like towels or pool noodles to support the bottom and lift it to the proper angle. Here’s a video from a mom illustrating how to do this:

      Hope this helps!

    2. Kelly Root says:

      Mine Too! I’ve called the company, and have not heard back yet. They asked for photos of the seat installed, which have been sent. It is installed correctly. I had to have frequent training for work to install car seats and I read the installation manual twice. It is installed properly, I find that the bottom is thin, and when I hear my grandson say……… It’s tipping Grammy, it is not acceptable. Anyone else have this problem?

  15. S. Martin says:

    I have found that the red button is hard to press and very difficult to release the straps to get the child out. Is there some trick to get the button to release the metal parts that are inserted into the buckle? I have to press the button numerous times before it finally releases each clip.

    1. Jill Wiltfong says:

      I just tuck my hand behind the crotch button and press my thumb down and squeeze. I’m
      A smaller woman with tiny hands and this works well. I typically have my nails long so I always keep my thumb nail shorter for this very reason. You wouldn’t want the button to release easily or else your child could get themselves out.

    2. Emma Lachey says:

      Thanks for the info, Jill! Also, be sure to check for any accumulated crumbs or dirt that may have fallen into the buckle. That can sometimes interfere with its operation.

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