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Safety 1st Complete Air Convertible Carseat: Cutting Edge Features at a Lower Cost

10/11/2009 at 10:00 AM ET

Safety 1st

In the event of a car crash, head and neck injuries pose the biggest threat to a small child. That’s why it’s important to buy the best carseat available. However, not all carseats are made the same — and all too often, you get what you pay for.

That’s why we were excited to check out the new Safety 1st Complete Air Convertible Carseat ($250). It offers cutting-edge side-impact technology at a competitive price without sacrificing safety.

Click below to read about the groundbreaking crash tests conducted on the Complete Air.

With their latest version, Safety 1st has gone to great lengths to protect your child’s head. There is extra cushioning that literally cradles your baby from the neck up — and I’m not talking about the standard energy absorbent or EPS foam you’ll find on most carseats. Instead, the cushions are filled with air, which release when compressed. They also extend the “ride down” time (the term for the amount of time it takes for a child’s head to strike an object after impact), which diverts energy from the crash, resulting in reduced crash forces.

Fortunately, we didn’t need to crash our car to find out if the Complete Air works. Safety 1st tested its ‘Air Protect’ technology by simulating side impact collisions –the most violent and often deadly car crashes for children. The testing was the result of a collaboration between the Dorel Juvenile Group (DJG) and Kettering University’s renowned Crash Safety Center, who together developed a new standard for side impact testing so groundbreaking that their findings have been shared with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The expanded safety features don’t end there. Up to 40 lbs. and 40 inches, the Complete Air allows you to position your child in an extended rear face position. That means you could extend rear face a preschooler. There aren’t very many carseats on the market that offer that kind of rear-facing longevity, and with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending that children rear-face as long as possible, it’s a huge upside. Once you’re ready to turn the seat around you can do a five-point harness up to 50 lbs. which — while not the longest harness on the market — is still a nice safety feature.

Speaking of the harness, it is one of the easiest we’ve ever used because you don’t need to uninstall the Complete Air from your car in order to adjust the height. The carseat conveniently features a single-click latch system making the switch-out from car-to-car a breeze. It’s also easy to install with a seat belt if your car does not feature a latch. It comes with a detachable cup-holder and is available in two color pathways: McKenna (black/grey) and Harvest (brown/orange).

It’s hard to argue against the Complete Air. It combines the cutting-edge safety features employed by pricier brands, but at a price point that you can afford. What’s more, when you consider the years of extended rear-facing/extended harnessing use it offers, it becomes an even more solid pick. I’d recommend the Complete Air to any new or expectant mom, especially for inclusion on their baby registry.

– Missy

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Showing 25 comments

Em on

My daughter is just about to outgrow her infant seat (probably within the month, height-wise) and I’ve been researching researching researching for her next one. This seat is at the top of my list based upon the unique side-impact safety features. Does anyone have any real life experience with the safety first air convertibe, or with safety first in general? The only downside I can see is that most convertibles go to 65lbs and this one only goes up to 50. Is it worth it to get this seat for less use (time-wise) but for (what seems like) better safety? My daughter is also pretty long for her age (90th percentile @ 6 mos) so she may even outgrow the seat sooner than average. Any advice anyone?? There are so many options! Thanks!

Christine on

I am a CPST (car seat tech) and I do not recommend this seat. After installing it rearfacing and forward facing, it is a VERY DIFFICULT seat to install. For a $250 price tage, which is not a “lower cost”, this seat should be very easy to use. Also, when I peeled back the cover, there is no additional padding. The cover is over plastic. Infact, this seat is very similar to their $40 Scenera- the only difference being the higher weights and the head wings.

For the cost, I’d highly recommend the Graco MyRide 65 ($150, rearfaces to 40 lbs and forward faces to 65 lbs) or the Britax Roundable 50 ($199, rearfaces to 35 lbs, forward to 50 lbs).

Don’t waste your money on this seat.

Brooke on

Em, most children outgrow their seats by height long before they reach the weight limit. If your daughter is in the 90th percentile, I’d be more concerned about the harness height etc than the weight limits.

jennifer on

This is just my opinion, but why not just spend a little bit more to get a Britax. I don’t think that’s cheap for Safety 1st

Wowza on

Regarding installing a carseat, it is absolutely best to have your carseat installed by a professional installer or someone who is trained to do so, such as a sheriff. The majority of carseats are not installed properly. If you are ever in an accident, while driving someone else’s child, you could easily be sued for having improperly installed a carseat.

Erika on

Wow I want this seat for me lol. It looks so comfortable!! (I don’t have kids yet but it looks cool)

Rebecca on

Wowza, any good cps tech will show you how to install the carseat, and then have you do it yourself, not just install it for you and send you on your way. Once you know what you’re doing and can install it properly, there’s nothing wrong with doing it yourself.

wavybrains on

$250 isn’t a price point I consider “affordable” or a lower price. If the car seats at the lower end of the price spectrum are so unsafe, I’d really like to see something done to get the safer carseats more affordable for all families. $250 just isn’t realistic for most families I know. We have a Graco, and while you can’t put a price on your child’s safety, everything else DOES have a price, and that sucks.

Valerya on

This carseat is much more expensive than I was expecting. After reading the review I was considering it for my next child but I won’t be getting one. We have a Britax Boulevard CS for our daughter right now and we all love it. It has great side impact protection and the straps are adjustable with the seat installed. The Britax is very plush and before we installed it my daughter always tried to use it as a chair.

If you’re going to spend $250 you might as well spend a little more and get a Britax.

Elisabeth on

I agree with Christine, Safety 1st is a bad company it’s more known for cheap low end baby items (their travel system retails for $140) than its actually known for safety. Case in point it was one of a few baby gear brands to be fined $1 million dollars for hiding defects in their products. Several children were hurt and there were a few reported deaths. Would you trust your child with a company’s products who have a track record like that(Cosco sometimes under the name eddie bauer were also a part of the fine) ? I wouldn’t. I’d spend $20 more and buy a Britax. Low cost at $259.99? No way.
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/cosco.html

My baby will ride in a chicco keyfit (once he or she is born) and once they grow out of that we have a Britax car seat.

Elisabeth on

wavybrains, Yes some car seat brands are not the safest they can be. Evenflo is one brand you’ll find posted on the recall board where baby items are sold most often. I’ve noticed that their carseat has been recalled not once not twice but 3 plus times in ten years for the same defect. While the Car seat is used as a carrier the handle would release and carrier would flip forward causing the child to fall out of the seat.

Graco is one example of safety at an affordable price.

My family isn’t well to do yet we plan and save for items for our baby. My husband is in medical school and we live on one income. Our travel system retails for $300-320 (depending on the model) But we saved our change and watched for coupons ( babies r us sends out great ones) our coupon took off 20% or $60 and we sold some items on ebay. By the time we did all this we paid $90 out of pocket.

Families don’t have to settle for evenflo, Cosco or Safety 1st. Some do because they can’t stand the thought of spending what we did on a travel system. For us quality and safety were the features we were looking for. We’re very pleased with our Chicco and wish they’d make a covertible seat.

My husband and I are not

JMO on

Yeah this carseat isn’t “affordable”….I think there are other better brands for cheaper prices. I always liked Graco products they’re safe and affordable for any family. And yes some other products are cheaper and probably not as safe but sadly that’s all some families can afford. I agree that if they made things more affordable for all families people would def. buy the better products (i.e. Britax, Chicco, etc).

Rach on

Elisabeth, I believe you ! There is a car seat blitz going on here and they had a report on the news about seats,and this was one of them. The tests looked awful.I turned to my mom in surprise because I was so very close to buying this seat for my son.

And Brooke, I agree with you too, the very same thing happened to my son, he was well under the weight limit of his seat,but his height had went over it much sooner than expected.

The price def sucks. Over here you can get a Britax for the same price (maybe ten to twenty dollars more).

When my son was born my best friend had no idea how to properly install his car seat,she had installed if as per the instructions, but ever doing it before,she wasn’t sure if it was correct. She took it to the police station (where you see them telling you to take your seats all the time to get help) and they told her to go to Sears to have them do it (She said “I guess no one wanted to come outside and check the seat in the middle of winter”.Some 17 year old worker at Sears told her that it was going to cost her $85 dollars to get her seat checked by her. My friend said forget it and took it home and in between her,her dad and a neighbourhood mom, they got it right.

I think the nurses at the hospital should actually come out and check to see if you know how to install the child correctly when you leave the hospital. I always thought it was pretty pointless that they check the way you harness them and the expiry date alone, as you would think the most important would be the way you install it.

Dee on

To those mentioning spend a little more and get a Britax, if you shop online you can get a Britax for WELL under $250.

So you don’t even have to spend more… Spend LESS and get a Britax. ;-)

Albeebaby.com, elitecarseats.com, hipmonkey.com ALL have Britax (and other GOOD companies) all the time on sale, Free Shipping. Can’t beat that!

MomE on

I too think this is too much for a car seat. And if it’s so safe, I think they should offer it at more than just Babies R Us. That really peeves me to no end. And, really, that’s why I haven’t even considered it. I think safety should be available to everyone and not some retail game.

I got my Boulevard for $189 out the door on sale and with coupons. I never wanted to buy Britax because I didn’t like that they price their seats so high. Another thing about safety being available to everyone. But when I got it for just a bit more than other seats, I had to try it. It sure is the LaZBoy of car seats and really safe! My daughter is tall and I don’t think she’ll make it to 40 pounds RF in most seats out there anyway. I have a True Fit on standby should she outgrow the Boulevard by height. And that was only $140. Then there is the MyRide as has been mentioned here. I might get that one for Dad’s car.

So yeah, this seat is not affordable…. And I just have other issues with it too.

Jen on

I have a True Fit, made by The First Years. It has the same exact safety rating as a Britax, is rearfacing to 35 pounds and forward facing to 65 pounds, and retails for about 189. We got ours from amazong for 170 with shipping. I think Britax is over priced and they can be based solely on their reputation, but you can find seats just as safe made by other companies.

My daughter’s infant seat was a Graco Snugride which is quite possibly the safest seat out there and affordable for most families. As you can see from this link…

http://www.cnn.com/2007/AUTOS/01/04/car_seats/index.html

…more expensive does not always mean safer. (Britax and Combi performed poorly and Chicco and Peg Perego were just ok).

Rach on

MomE I agree !

Dee, for some reason, in Canada we are warned not to buy american car seats.Appar Americans have different safety standards or something, that is why so many car seats aren`t offered here.

Elisabeth on

Jen, I remember that report there was alot of controversy about that test and the results were retracted two weeks after the first report came out.
http://abclocal.go.com/wjrt/story?section=news/local&id=4949633
http://www.babycenter.com/0_consumer-reports-retracts-car-seat-safety-alert_1511019.bc

Several safety tests and talking with other moms and being a former Graco Snugride owner lead me to try something new. And I don’t regret it for one second. It blows Graco (still a good company) out of the water. The base is so much easier to install and the seat itself is made with the same components a bicycle helmet would be made of. The next time I am in the market for a travel system it will be another Chicco again by saving money it’s easy to get items at a reasonable price.

I haven’t seen any test results for TFY, but personally I’ve had bad luck with their rude customer service and they don’t have a long safety track record for me to buy one. When buying a seat I wouldn’t go by customer reviews alone since some fail to read the instructions and there for give the seat a good or bad review. But if it works great for you thats wonderful.

Dee I agree I love Albee baby and their free shipping! I got a $230 playard and a $120 travel lite crib for just $240. Wonderful company.

Jen on

Actually Elisabeth, I purchased the True Fit based on the recommendations from Car Seat Techs and its safety rating, not on reviews by others. We did a lot of research and felt assured by our own readings and the opinions of some car seat techs, both online and in person, as well as local law enforcment, that we were buying a seat that was just as safe as the considerably more expensive seats, specifically the Boulevard. I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that I was merely using the reviews of other customers and not really doing my research, but that is the way your comment came off.

As for those test results, I apologize and didn’t check the date. I was actually thinking about the tests done earlier this year or late last year that were printed in the Tribune. Your seat and the Snugride tested the best out of all seats and that includes the Britax.

My original point, and which I still feel is valid, is that more expensive does not necessarily equate to safer.

Elisabeth on

Jen, I do appologize for how my comment sounded. I meant in no way to imply that your purchase was based on customer reviews and for that I am truly sorry. I am very glad you are happy with your seat. What I meant to say (before I was interupted and lost my train of thought) or ask rather is how you came upon those reviews but I am sure it was through Consumer reports or through the NHTSC.

I remember when I was buying my travel system a two ladies were there looking at an evenflo system. I thought it was a mother and daughter (who was pregnant) they were deciding over the Graco system or the Evenflo system. They had a store person helping them and she told them that she liked the Graco (which was just $20 more than the evenflo) and about Graco’s awesome safety record however they picked Evenflo just because it had a baby wipes holder in the parent console. Then the real mom came over and (who they were actually buying it for) and said she liked it because it was inexpensive.

It would be nice to have a price cap on travel systems because some are downright silly in price. Safety and quality should be something we all can afford.

Jennifer on

I have this seat and I personally am not happy with how it installs rear facing. I do like how high the harness is and of course the 40lb rear facng limit, but I believe this seat is WAY over priced. The head wings are nice and I actually prefer them to my Britax Boulevard wings, but over all I much prefer the Boulevard. Fot the same price point I would go with Britax over safety first. For an actual affordable seat my top choice is the Evenflo Triumph Advance or Graco MyRide, both should get children to at least 2 years old rear facing (longer in the myride!) and 5 years old in the forward facing harness, at which time a booster can be appropriate

For those of you buying seats based off consumer reports or other crash test, hold off and talk to an actual technician, many of these ratings are based off ease of use which is subjective, and consumer reports as well as other independent crash tests have been found to have inacurate results.

Another poster mentioned having your seat installed by a certified child passenger safety technician, as a technician I agree, however… a good technician will teach you how to do it properly, not just do it for you!

The BEST car seat is one that fits your child, your car, and the one that you will use CORRECTLY EVERY TIME!

Dee on

I played with this seat in person, and the $250 price tag is borderline extortion. IMO.

It has some nice ideas in it, but it still has ALL of the major Dorel flaws, cheap, flimsy shell, the FFing kickstand thing that breaks if you look at it wrong, twisty, thin cheapo harness, a royal pain to install…etc.

What am I paying $250 for if this seat isn’t any better than their cheap $45 seat?

I’d really love to know on WHAT Planet $250 is a “lower cost” option. ROFL…I can just picture the coronary someone likely had over that title.. they thought there was a lower cost option and that $250 tag hit them like a Prevost Bus.

C on

to the poster who mentioned that nurses should check how your car seat is installed before you leave the hospital: nurses have a lot to do, and it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your car seat is installed properly BEFORE your baby is born. I am a nurse and make sure to tell all of the parents I teach prenatal classes to, to know how their car seat works, install and have their car seats checked around weeks 32-35.

happy n content! on

After being in a rear end accident and front end accident (less then 3 days ago), I went out and bought this car seat the next day. I really feel this car seat has major advantages compared to
The alfa omega elite I had before. I don’t think that when it comes to safety price should be an issue, if it gets good reviews by professionals I’m getting it! Parents look out for sales! I purchased the air protect from babies r us for 179.99 located in massapequa ny.

Mama of 2 on

We have this car seat & find it very easy to use & sturdy. It has a newer version of the LATCH system that is easier to put in and take out and doesn’t require so much loosening & tightening.

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