As a child passenger safety technician, one of the twin purchases I thought about the most before purchasing or registering for was a set of infant car seats. The main things I was looking for in a car seat included: safety, fit, convenience, affordability, and compatibility with a double stroller that fit similar parameters.
I knew I wanted infant carriers for my twins as their first car seats so they would be easy to carry, so we could buy extra bases for my partner’s car, and because I wanted to be able to quickly snap the infant carriers into a compatible stroller. Truthfully, I had to research strollers at the same time as the infant carriers for this reason – however, I will not be doing a full review of my stroller in this post. But, the stroller choice definitely impacted my car seat choice too since they would be used together. Although, most strollers have car seat adapters you can purchase separately so you can get your car seat and stroller of choice and not have to worry about that (but, like stated before, affordability was one of my key deciding factors and I personally couldn’t justify spending lots of extra money on multiple attachments on an already more-expensive double stroller).
Ultimately, I ended up deciding on the Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX car seats! Here is how I came to that decision:
As a child passenger safety technician, I work with Graco car seats all the time. The brand has been around for a long time, and we frequently come into contact with the brand. It may not always be the “fanciest,” but it serves the purpose of transporting children safely at a more affordable price. Graco is also one of the brands I find easy to install correctly every time, since it doesn’t have so many bells and whistles to navigate. The infant car seat bases that come with this particular model come with an anti-rebound bar. While this isn’t a feature that is “necessary” for infant seat base safety, it does give additional peace of mind.The bases can be installed either with the LATCH system, or with a seatbelt lockoff that is built into the seat bases that come with this seat.
As mentioned earlier, we actually bought an additional set of car seat bases for my partner’s vehicle. To save a little money, we actually purchased bases without the anti-rebound bar (but that were compatible with the infant carriers). These bases also could be installed with the LATCH system or with the seatbelt lockoff. In my partner’s Tesla Model 3, we actually have the seats installed with the LATCH system, while with my Subaru Crosstrek, we installed the car seat with the seatbelt lockoff. We installed the bases with two different methods just based on how the bases fit in the respective vehicles. We could use either method, but felt the seat bases were more secure with the method selected for each vehicle. We both have leather seats, and the fit with the various kinds of leather played a small part in the installation process and how the seats fit. I love how easy the seatbelt lockoff is with this car seat base.
Graco also has a universal click-lock travel system, meaning that (almost) all recent Graco infant seats fit in all Graco bases and strollers. This is how we got away with getting the cheaper bases for my partner’s car and using the Graco Ready2Grow LX 2.0 Double Stroller as our primary stroller for the first 6 months. As stated above, I will do a full review of our Ready2Grow LX 2.0 Stroller, but it was a very convenient and easy to use stroller to click our car seats into. It was perfect for helping transport our twins and it also fit great in our trunks. Plus, it didn’t break the bank since it was already one of the cheaper travel systems, and since we didn’t have to buy car seat attachment pieces for the stroller.
As far as fit in our vehicles – this car seat is pretty standard. Not particularly large and bulky, but it’s not the smallest in the market either. My partner is 6’1” and I must say, there is not much leg room for him in my Crosstrek with the car seats installed. We would have had that issue with any rear facing car seat though, because the issue is more so the Crosstrek not having adequate space for him in the first place. In the Tesla though, my partner has enough leg room to sit comfortably and not have the driver’s seat pressed against the back of the car seat (which you don’t want). We are looking into trading in the Crosstrek for a larger family vehicle for more space so the twins can continue to stay rear facing as long as possible, and for more trunk space for the stroller, our wagon, and anything else we have to haul.
Some convenience features that pushed me to select the SnugRide SnugFit DLX 35 opposed to other Graco infant carrier models included the following items:
- The No-Rethread Simply Safe Adjust™ Harness System makes adjusting harness height quick and easy without having to rethread the harness webbing through the back of the seat to get the desired harness height (for rear-facing, harnessing should be at or below babies shoulders). With twins, the convenience of this would save me so much time not having to manually adjust the harness every time I noticed they were getting taller and needed that adjusted.
- The 1-hand adjustable handle is more convenient than the traditional two hand system, especially with twins (when having an extra hand free may be a hassle). Having the button to adjust the handle in the center of the handle is just so convenient (this was the selling point for me honestly – this is such a convenient feature that I’m not sure why all infant car seat handles aren’t like this). This handle is also contoured so it is easy to carry, which is helpful when you are carrying two infant seats!
- The material is so soft, easy to clean, and aesthetically pleasing. I wanted something neutral in color, and this seat provided great options for neutral colors (we got the color Jacks – and the infant insert and base color for this seat is black, which is great for blowouts and other stains. The headrest is sporty, which my partner and I both liked the look of). It also matched the Ready2Grow stroller well, which we got in the color Clark.
These convenience factors were things I saw in higher-end seats, not typically Graco. But Graco stepped it up with their DLX seat to compete with other brands, and still was able to keep the cost relatively inexpensive compared to others on the market. So I was willing to add the DLX seats to my registry and “splurge” for the slightly more expensive Graco seat because they were still cheaper or the same price as other well-loved and sought after brands. Specifically, the DLX Graco seat was the same price as the base model Chicco KeyFit (which I was heavily considering for my twins), but after seeing the higher-end features the DLX provided for the same price and after comparing compatible strollers (the Chicco stroller reviews I read said the turn radius wasn’t great, the stroller was bulky and didn’t fit it some trunks, and it was not very lightweight), it was a no-brainer.
And almost 6 months in, I haven’t once regretted my seat choice! Even after returning to work and doing more car seat installations with other styles and brands of infant carriers. The only negative thing I have to say about this car seat is that the head support looks bulky, and I am worried about my girls noggins fitting comfortably in it long term…sometimes their ears buckle and are folded when I put them in the seat.
Overall, I think this car seat choice was the best for my family and my twins. I do like some features from other infant carriers, but I have had little complaints about this seat! It has hands down been our most used item for the twins and will continue to be.