The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat Reviews
The First Years True Fit convertible car seat:
Table of Contents for The First Years True Fit, Model 630: (Jump ahead!)
- Best Price
- Video Overview
- Ease of Strap Adjustments
- Ease of Installation
- Customer Reviews
- Pros and Cons
I actually created a huge spread-sheet of car-seat-facts during my research, and here is what I found out about the True Fit car seat from experienced consumers and my in-depth analysis and comparisons to other convertibles:
The First Years True Fit: This is a true convertible car seat, which can be used for your newborn on the way home from the hospital until she is 65 lbs and 50 inches tall. (Many other convertible car seats, such as the popular Britax Marathon, accommodate infants by weight, but practically do not fit infants well as newborns are too short for their straps until they are several months old.) The First Years True Fit is truly a car seat that will last your child from the day of her birth until around first grade!
The First Years True Fit Car Seat’s Dimensions:
The True Fit car seat is 19.5 inches wide.
The “seat footprint” (which sits on the vehicle seat) is 12.5″ wide.
The top shoulder harness slot is 17 inches in height.
Rear-facing height: 21″
Forward-facing height: 28.5″
Weight of True Fit: 18.5 lbs.
Seat depth: 24″.
Seat Area: 12″ deep X 12″ wide.
Shoulder Width: 14″.
Harness Slot Heights: 9 – 16″.
The car seat weighs in at 19 lbs.
The True Fit’s rear facing weight limit is 35 lbs, which means that you can keep your child riding rear-facing until the age of two or even four, which is the safest position for children.
Video Overview of the True Fit convertible car seat:
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This video of the First Years True Fit was produced by the Learning Curve, the parent company of True Fit, and is just over four minutes in length.
You’ll view the details of this safety seat, its unique features, get a good look at the shell beneath the cover, and how babies and big kids fit into this versatile and long-lasting convertible car seat.
How Safe is The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat?
The first aspect of a car seat that I looked at when doing my comparisons was safety . My primary concern was the seat’s safety ratings. In this day and age, simply paying a higher price does not guarantee that I will get extra safety features!
The True Fit is at the top of the list when it comes to safety. It has deep, padded side wings which offer more cushion and side impact resistance to protect the child in case the car is struck in the side. When I encountered certified car seat technicians, I noticed that they are often partial to this seat — so you know that this convertible will provide a truly secure ride for your child.
Be aware that any car seat sold in the USA has passed government safety regulations, and those tests are graded as pass/fail, so there is no way to really know which seat is actually safer than the other. Car seat manufacturers do their own independent tests, and independent agencies like Consumer Reports only report with icons like shaded circles in a variety of categories — so you cannot know if one seat scored at the “bottom” of a shaded circle, while the other car seat scored at the “top” of a shaded circle, and thus determine much information based on those types of charts. The very best seat is the one that you will use and install properly each time you drive!
Consumer Reports gave this car seat a grade of 60 out of 100. That does not sound too great until you realize that the highest grade given to any convertible car seat was 70, and the lowest was 48. Here is a screenshot of Consumer Reports’ report card for this seat: As you can see, the shaded circles give you some idea about how it fared in their testing, but leave a lot of detailed questions unanswered.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave this seat 3-5 stars for all of the categories which they use to grade car seats: I posted an image of the star ratings below for your convenience. These ratings are among the highest in the entire convertible car seat category.
How Easy is it to Adjust the Straps of the True Fit?
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The adjustment of the car seat’s harness straps is an important factor in the safety and proper usage of every car seat. I was looking for a seat whose straps are simple to operate, so that my baby’s grandparents and other caregivers will use the seat appropriately without having to read the entire manual!
The First Years True Fit has a different type of harness system than those commonly found in five-point harness convertible car seats. This seat features a continuous harness, and some parents adored it while other parents disliked it. The continuous harness means that the right and left sides of the straps are connected internally, so in reality, the harness is all one long strap. Therefore, you can borrow a bit of harness from one side to another. Place your child in the car seat, pull up on the hip strap to get some slack, and then put one arm through the strap. Then, pull on the other hip strap, which will tighten the first side and give you slack on the second side. Put the second arm through. Afterward, you can even out the straps by adjusting at the hips.
In the rear-facing position, the center strap adjustment is very challenging to reach, as it is pushed against your vehicle’s seat. However, because of the continuous harness, you only need to use that strap adjustment to make the harness longer every few weeks, as your child grows. When the True Fit is forward-facing, the center strap adjustment is easily accessible.
The crotch buckle moves from one position to the next without re-threading, just press a button to move it closer or further away from your child’s body.
Raising the harness strap to a higher position, as your child grows taller and her seated-shoulder-height increases, is very simple with the True Fit: There is no re-threading required, you simply make an adjustment in the back of the car seat which raises the harness slot of the seat.
Parents love the way that the straps can be pulled around the wide “wings” of this car seat when unbuckling the child. The straps will stay there nicely without twisting until it’s time for your child to get buckled in again. There’s no rough velcro to rip your little ballerina’s delicate tutus!
How Easy is it To Install the First Years True Fit convertible?
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Installation of The First Years True Fit convertible car seat is fairly straightforward, with the exception of those with very small cars.
There is a removable head-rest which adds to the front-to-back room of this car seat. The head-rest may be removed for use with babies under 22 lbs and whose head are at least one inch from the shell of the car seat. After growing taller and weighing over 22 lbs, the True Fit car seat must be used with the head rest in place. Practically, this means that if you plan to keep your child riding rear-facing when she is over 22 lbs, then you will have a sizable car seat that takes up about the same amount of space as similar convertible car seats.
If you have a minivan or larger sedan, then the seat fits nicely and it is not too complex to install. While it is a much tighter fit in a compact car, it can be done but it is not as simple.
The True Fit comes with built in lock-offs, making installation that much easier than other car seats which require the use of locking clips.
As is the case with many convertible car seats, the use of a pool noodle under the seat may be necessary to get in installed at the correct angle when it is rear-facing. Once installed though, it has a solid adherence to the vehicle.
If you read through the reviews of the True Fit on Amazon.com, you will notice that quite a few parents had trouble with the installation of this seat in the rear-facing position. That is because this seat is shipped with the belt positioned ready for use in the forward-facing position, and it must be re-threaded to use rear-facing. So, read your instruction manual carefully before you attempt to install this car seat!
The True Fit should be reclined at a 45 degree angle for infants, and then, as your baby grows, can be installed more upright, at a 35 degree angle. You can use a rolled towel or pool noodle to help achieve the 45 degree angle if your vehicle’s seats are sloped significantly.
Parents did report that installation got easier with repeated practice, so allow yourself some time for the first few installs, and then it will go faster!
How Comfortable is The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat?
The First Years True Fit car seat is extremely comfortable and comes with thick, removable padding for your little baby.
The padding is like the Princess and the Pea – but without the pea! It is very soft, plush, and comfortable.
There is a lot of leg room for rear facing older kids in this seat – about equal to the leg room of the Sunshine Kids Radian, which means that you can keep your toddler riding backwards for longer – which is a significant safety advantage. Many other convertible car seats are rated for up to 35 lbs for children riding rear-facing, but do not offer this amount of leg room for older children.
The straps cushions are a nice feature to help your baby avoid a ‘carpet burn’ type of rash from rubbing against the harness, as after-market strap covers are not advised by car seat technicians, since they can allow too much slack in the straps during a motor vehicle accident.
Customer Reviews for the First Years True Fit car seat:
“Love the seat. I have twins so I needed to be sure the seats would fit in my Scion plus have room for my 11 yr old daughter in between them. They fit perfectly and so does my daughter. My twin girls love the seats. It was very simple to install just be sure to read the directions. It literally took us 15 min to install them. Had read on a previous review to use a pool noodle to level them and that worked perfectly too.”
from Greta. Read more reviews on Amazon
“I’m a child seat safety technician and I found that all the safety features on this car seat are EXACTLY what I wanted for my 7 1/2 month old son. He weighed 21 pounds at the time so he is a big boy. The deep seats are great protection for side impact crashes and the seat is big enough to fit him in there comfortably.
The adjustable straps are very easy to work with. Make sure when you put the seat in rear facing that you use the base located under the seat and move it toward the front of the seat. This way you can get the proper seat angle. Don’t be intimidated to use the latch system to secure the seat in the vehicle. I have had the seat for about a month and every time my son gets in the seat he looks sooo comfortable. I got 2 seats for the price of 1 of those higher end child seats and I even got a 3rd seat for my mother. ” from Delila. Read more reviews on Amazon
“This car seat is great. I wish I had bought this car seat first, instead of investing in the car seat/infant carrier system first, as you can use this one from birth on up until they are ready for a booster seat. It is easy to install and remove, using the latch system in my car, and very easy to adapt to my son’s needs. Versatile and rugged!”
from Jules. Read more reviews on Amazon
“After speaking with several CPS techs, I decided on the True Fit car seat for my toddler. I got it when he was 15 months old and at 2 years he is STILL rear facing! I love the high weight limit which allows me to keep my son in the safest position possible – rear facing. After researching the benefits of extended rear facing, I knew I would need a seat that would last a long time. There are other seats NOW with a higher rear facing weight limit – but the True Fit is still my favorite. The depth of the seat allows for TONS of leg room for my child, and the incline in the rear facing position still allows for plenty of leg room for my passenger in my Toyota Corolla.
Best Price for the True Fit car seat:
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After lots of surfing, visiting local stores, and calling stores miles away, I found that Amazon.com beat local stores and other websites by $20 – $45 on a regular basis. However, because they are generally the cheapest, it can be out of stock, so if you see it in stock on Amazon grab it while it’s still available!
Sometimes, when you check out this car seat on Amazon, you will not see a price, rather, Amazon will show you a button that reads: “Check price in cart”. Therefore, you need to add the item to your cart, and then you are shown the price. While this may be inconvenient, it saves you a lot of money: The manufacturer does not allow the product to be sold for less than a certain amount of money publicly. Since Amazon sells this car seat for less than the manufacturer’s allowed price, they cannot display the price until you have added the item to your shopping cart.
Therefore , that extra click of your mouse will save you some money — be sure to put your savings into your baby’s college fund!
Pros and Cons of the First Years True Fit convertible car seat:
- The True Fit has a higher than average shell height, which means that taller kids won’t outgrow it as fast by height, as is common in other brands of seats.
- The design of this seat makes it a good fit in cars where front-to-back room is tight, even in the rear-facing position. (This is a huge plus over other car seats that take up a lot of front-to-back room and require the front seat to be moved very much forward.) However, it still can be a tight fit when the headrest is on in small cars.
- Unlike other convertible car seats which are often too big for newborn babies (despite the labels that say that they can be used from 5 lbs!) the True Fit truly fits (pun intended, lol!) infants well. Many other convertible seats only fit very tall infants, so you need to use a different seat for your baby’s first couple of months of life.
- The seat cover can be removed for washing without uninstalling the seat, always nice for when milk spills!
- The True Fit’s harness is thick and does not twist.
- Comes with plush strap covers to protect baby’s delicate skin from chaffing when rubbing against the harness straps.
- This car seat has a seven-year expiration, while most other seats have a six-year expiration, so you’ll get an extra year of use out of it!
- This seat does not sit up upon a large base like many other convertible car seats, and older children like that the seat sits lower, so that they are not in a high, baby-like car seat!
- The True Fit has more seat depth than the Britax Marathon or Boulevard, which means you can keep your child rear facing for longer before your child’s legs get cramped in that position.
- Harness adjuster can be a difficult to reach when rear-facing, if you have super flat back seats in your car. (This was fixed the Premier version.) However, the continuous harness design means that you only need to adjust the harness length once in a while, when your child grows taller – for everyday use you can pull slack from the opposite side of the harness for ease of getting in and out.
- This seat does sit lower in the car than other convertible car seats, which means that short kids may strain a bit to see out the window.
- The cup-holder (shown in the photo on the right) is placed a bit low; some parents complained that their toddlers could not reach it.
- When you take the seat out of the box, the latch belt default is for the forward-facing position. To use it in the rear-facing position, you have reposition the belt, which was not clear in the directions. This frustrated lots of new parents who wanted to use the seat in the rear-facing position.
- The red stickers that show the proper incline level for this car seat (it should be parallel with the ground) fall off easily- so tape them on securely right away!
- The seat cover is not machine-washable; you’ll want to wash it by hand in a basin or in the sink.
- Because the cover is easily removable, there are lots of little slots in the car seat cover where pieces of cereal, crumbs, and vomit can fall into the body of this seat. (Some parents suggested lining the seat body with a garbage bag under the actual seat cover.)
- One customer reported that it was impossible for her to get the seat at the correct rear-facing incline in a 2009 Acura MDX, even with the use of pool noodles; she returned this seat for a Britax Marathon, which installed easily and properly.
- Installation is more challenging than the Britax Roundabout or Marathon – it takes more muscle to get the seat tightly installed, but once it is installed, it is solid with your car. The anchor system is challenging to use and get a tight fit. This is a significant consideration if you’ll be transferring the car seat between Mom and Dad’s cars regularly.
- There is no crotch buckle pad to prevent the buckle from laying and rubbing against your child’s body.
- This seat is too large for the car seat travel bags, so this may not be your best bet to take while traveling on a plane. Although, you can wrap it in a garbage bag and check it in that way.
Conclusion: Although it is not perfect (and no car seat is!), the First Years True Fit is a terrific convertible seat and a great value.