A car seat is one of the most important items you will buy for your child. Whether you’re driving to the grocery store or taking a long trip, you want your child to be happy, comfortable, and above all else, safe. There are many car seats on the market, with different features to suit the age and stage of development of your child. Where do you begin to decide which one to buy for your child? How do you know which one is the safest option for you within your price range?
There are different types of car seats – infant car seats, convertible car seats, booster seats, toddler booster seats, and all-in-one car seats. Which one you need depends on the age – or more accurately, the height and weight – of your child, as well as what you are looking for in terms of whether you want to use it with a travel system, for example.
Today we’re looking at two convertible car seats – the Graco 4ever vs the Chicco NextFit, both of which you can adjust as your child gets older. Having a car seat that you can use for a long time is obviously a bonus because it saves you having to make multiple purchases as your child grows. We will take a close look at both models, including how comfortable they are for your child, their safety features and technical specifications, and how they work as your child moves onto the next stage. We will also be taking a look at real reviews from parents who use car seats every day.
- 1 Keeping Your Child Safe
- 2 What is a convertible car seat?
- 3 The Main Differences Between Graco 4ever and Chicco NextFit
- 4 Graco 4ever
- 5 Chicco NextFit
- 6 What’s the Final Verdict?
Keeping Your Child Safe
The main point of a car seat is, of course, to keep your child safe. In the worst-case event of an accident, a well-made car seat will be vital in terms of protecting your little one. There are a few things to remember when buying and using a car seat:
- Car seats have an expiration date. A convertible car seat should last from birth right through to your child is ready for a booster seat, but they don’t last forever – you can usually find the expiration date on the base or the sides of your car seat. A couple of reasons for the expiration date is that the materials can wear down over time and that as car seat technology improves, safety standards change, therefore making it a wise decision to upgrade as new car seat models emerge.
- You should never buy a used car seat. For one thing, you don’t know for sure if it’s never been in an accident. A car seat that has been in an accident, even if it looks fine externally, might have internal issues that you can’t see. This can also be the case for older car seats even if they haven’t been in an accident – you don’t know if the car seat has been dropped or damaged from moving, for example. Occasionally a car seat model will be recalled, which is another reason to buy new. Although car seats can be expensive, and it may be tempting when you see a used one for cheap, it’s a lot safer to buy new.
- You should always ensure your car seat is fitted properly. There are car seat inspection stations around the U.S – if you want to make sure you have installed the car seat properly, this is a great way to get peace of mind. They will be up to date with car seat laws and will be able to show you how to make sure everything is in place.
- Pay attention to the height and weight limits. It is always best to read the instructions thoroughly when you buy a car seat and to check periodically if your child has reached the weight or height limit of their car seat. It is equally important not to move them onto the next stage of the car seat before they are over the minimum height/weight limit, as this could compromise their safety.
What is a convertible car seat?
Today, we are talking about convertible car seats. As the name suggests, a convertible car seat can be changed as your child grows. It starts as a rear-facing infant car seat, the safest position for new babies. They then transition into a forward-facing seat as your child grows into a toddler, and sometimes into a backless booster seat. It makes them a great investment and saves you worrying about going out to purchase a new car seat for a while. However, due to their size and their bulky design, they are not compatible with travel systems the way infant car seats are – they aren’t designed to clip in and out of a stroller frame.
Of course, there are differences between models of a convertible car seat. Generally speaking, this is the gist – it should be a purchase that will last your child a good few years. One word of note, however: make sure the car seat fits your car! The manufacturers’ website will usually have a compatibility guide. Convertible car seats can be on the large side, so it’s important to check before you commit to buying whether the seatbelt will be able to fit around it properly, to avoid disappointment or having to return it.
You can read our rundown of convertible car seat models here.
The Main Differences Between Graco 4ever and Chicco NextFit
If you’re struggling to choose between the two, here are the main differences in a nutshell:
- The Graco 4ever lasts longer – it is a four in one car seat, designed to last your child from birth to ten years, meaning you don’t have to worry about buying another one any time soon. The Chicco NextFit only lasts up to 65lbs, usually around 5-6 years old
- The Chicco NextFit has 9 reclining positions, which means that you have more choices to keep your child comfortable on long journeys
- The NextFit has a few different designs with a couple of extra features, like washable seat pads and breathable backrests, if you want to spend a little more cash
The Graco 4ever claims to give you ten years of use from one car seat – from 4 to 120lbs. So if you don’t want to worry about purchasing another car seat for a decade, this could be a great option! It transitions from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing 5-point harness seat, to a high-back belt-positioning booster, and finally, to a backless belt-positioning booster.
In terms of safety, the Graco 4ever boasts a lot of technology. It has a latch system that makes for easy installation. It’s side-impact tested. This means that as well as meeting or exceeding minimum safety standards in the US, the 5-point harness system has been tested for occupant retention, too. Basically speaking, this means they’ve tested to see if your child would remain in the seat in the event of a side-impact accident. It has a steel-reinforced frame which helps it to last as your child grows. It also has a level indicator, helping to keep correct rear-facing installation simple.
As far as comfort features for your child, it offers plush inserts for your child’s comfort, and parents say it is very soft, which is especially nice for a newborn. It’s machine washable – this is actually a great bonus for every parent, but especially for those whose kids get car sick – and it has a cup holder, which is handy for keeping your child’s drink within reach on long journeys. It also has a six-position recline adjustment, which is again very useful on long journeys if you want your child to sleep comfortably.
We checked out what parents think of the 4ever, and the reviews are mostly good. The Graco 4ever has a star rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Parents say that the car seat is safe, is easy to install, and very comfortable for their children. They also liked that the child can be rear-facing (the safest position for young children) until they reach 40lbs. They also appreciated how easy it is to clean, with its removable machine-washable cover.
However, some parents had issues with the cup holder, which would pop out by accident at times. A few parents found the straps quite hard to undo or tighten. Some parents found that the headrest would shake when their child was not using it, which was annoying as it needed to be re-adjusted when their child got back in the car again.
- Weight: 22.75lbs
- 24” H/ 20” D/ 21.5” W
- Color options: multiple choices, including matrix (black), basin (teal), and Kylie (pink)
The weight limits for each of the four car seat positions are:
- Rear-facing infant car seat: 4-40lbs
- Forward-facing 5-point harness seat: 22-65lbs
- High-back belt-positioning booster: 30-100lbs
- Backless belt-positioning booster: 40-120lbs
Frequently Asked Questions about the Graco 4ever
Here are some commonly asked questions about this model:
When does this car seat expire?
-10 years from the manufacture date.
Can it be used with a newborn?
-Yes- from 4lb and up. The plush padding makes it nice and comfortable, too.
Does it fit with any stroller?
-No – convertible car seats are too bulky to be used in a travel system. You will need an infant car seat to use with a stroller. (If you want to know more about travel systems, check out our rundown of best jogging stroller travel systems, or our guide to Graco travel systems.)
The Chicco NextFit is another great choice. It is designed to be used from 5lb to 65lb, and it has both rear-facing and forward-facing modes. It comes in three different styles, all of which are designed slightly differently, and some of which have added features.
In all the models, the safety features are great. It has a steel-reinforced frame, Duo Guard protection with a deep rigid shell, and energy-absorbing foam, all of which make it a tough, durable car seat. It has a slide and lock installation system, making it a simple process to install into your car. All models come with a newborn positioner, great for keeping your baby safe and comfortable. The covers are machine washable and come with a dishwasher-safe cup holder, too. It has a latch push button system which makes securing your child in the seat simple. It has 9 reclining positions, too, helping to keep your child comfortable and to fit the seat nicely in your car.
The NextFit Sport comes in black, graphite, and shadow color options. It has attractive white stitching. It is the cheapest option of the three, so may be the one for you if you’re watching the pennies.
The NextFit Zip comes in a variety of color options, including Juniper (teal) and Vivaci (purple). It has a zip-off washable seat pad, too, which the Sport doesn’t have.
The NextFit Zip Air comes in two color choices – Azzurro (teal accents) and Rosso (red accents). Like the Zip, it has a washable seat pad, but it also comes with a padded harness and breathable AirMesh backrest, so this might be a good option if you live in a particularly hot climate and have to deal with a sweaty toddler.
The NextFit Sport has a 4.9 out of 5-star rating on Amazon, so slightly higher than the Graco 4ever. Parents say that the NextFit is very safe, and with its high sides, they feel their child is protected at every angle. They liked the padding, and they felt their children were comfortable rear-facing, too, with plenty of leg room. They liked the zip-off machine washable cover, finding it very useful. They also found the fabric durable despite many washes. The dishwasher-safe cup holder was a nice bonus for many parents, too.
Some parents found it to be heavy, though, with some finding it difficult to lift. This might make installation tricky and may require more than one person for the job. Some parents also said it is a bulky car seat, making it a tight squeeze for some cars, although others suggested this was a plus, given that it made them feel their child is safer and well protected.
- Weight: 25.1lbs
- Size: 21x19x29.2 in
- Color options: multiple depending on style chosen
The weight limits are:
- Rear-facing: 5lb-40lbs
- Forward-facing: 22lbs-65lbs
Frequently Asked Questions about the Chicco NextFit
Here are some commonly asked questions about this model:
What is the lifespan of this car seat?
-8 years from manufacturing date.
Does this fit in a Chicco travel system?
-No – it is not designed to be used with a travel system – you will need an infant car seat for this.
Does it come with a car seat base?
-No – it does not come with a car seat base.
Is it air travel approved?
-Yes – all the NextFit models are approved for use in an aircraft
What’s the Final Verdict?
The Graco 4ever and Chicco NextFit have a lot in common. They’re both made by brands that are trusted by parents. They both have cup holders for your little ones to use, and they have machine washable covers, which as any parent knows, is a very handy feature. They’re both adjustable with multiple reclining positions, helping to keep your child comfortable no matter how long the journey. Most importantly, they both boast great safety features including a steel-reinforced frame, so you can be assured of the safety of your little one with either model.
In terms of picking which one is best – it really depends on what you want. Parents say that the NextFit is bulky and heavy, which means it may not fit all models of cars, and it might make it a bit of a squeeze in the back. However, they really liked how safe it felt – the high sides made it feel extra sturdy and secure. They also liked the durability of the material and how easy it is to clean.
On the other hand, according to parents, the downside of the Graco 4ever is that the straps can be stiff and difficult to use, the cup holder can fall off unexpectedly, and the headrest rattles out of place when the child isn’t using it, meaning it must be readjusted a lot. These are small problems, but they can be annoying if you’re using it day in, day out. However, it has the massive advantage of being able to be used from birth right up to 10 years, in a variety of positions.
For that reason, Graco 4ever is our choice. In terms of value for money, it’s hard to beat. Although the NextFit is well designed with some great features, the 4ever is only $20 more than the NextFit Sport (the cheapest design of the NextFit). You can use the Graco 4ever for longer in a variety of positions, which makes it a great investment.
- The Ultimate Guide to the Best Graco Infant Car Seats
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