Our search for a convertible car seat came sooner than we expected. We loved our Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat . It was an awesome car seat that I was sad to see the little guy grow out of! However, at a whopping 20 lbs by 5 months we needed a new solution. He did not care to be inclined so far back any longer. Not to mention, I couldn’t carry the seat around with him in it anyway! Weeks of extensive research lead us to the Diono brand. We were impressed by the Britax Advocate, but many previous reviewers found that taller children would often outgrow this seat long before they reach the weight limit. This was a major concern for us given we already outgrew one seat. We wanted to find a seat that could keep big, bad Baby J safe (and rear facing!) as long as possible.
According to a study done by the medical college of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, children really need to stay rear facing until 3-4 years of age due to their hugely underdeveloped spinal column. The AAP recommends that children stay rear facing until AT LEAST 2 years old. See here for a good recap of why even longer is better!
The Diono Radian RXT got great reviews. So when I found out that Diono was releasing a new, updated line of their already awesome car seats I was super excited to get my hand on one. I pre-ordered my Diono Rainier and patiently waited for May 15th, 2014!
I don’t pretend to be a car seat expert, but as a new mom I wanted the safest possible option for my son. For that reason, this decision was a big one.
Here are some of the selling points for me:
- Incredible safety features
- Extended rear facing capacity
- Extended height limit up to 57″
- Converts to a booster for children between 50 and 120 lbs.
- Fits 3 across in the back seat, in the event we need that one day!
- It is still small enough to fit in the back seat of our 2013 Hyundai Sonata
Based on the safety standards and the previous reviews I was sold! Unfortunately, May 15th came and went and I was incredibly disappointed. This was a bummer because honestly a car seat is not something you can wait for. Diono issued the below apology. Thankfully, we did have another seat (Graco Headwise 70 exclusively for Target) so we decided to wait it out. Given that the limited availability of this seat was due to overwhelming demand, they had to be doing something right!
Like I said before, I am no car seat expert! In fact, this is only the third car seat I have ever owned! However, I am very glad that I waited!
Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat being the first, and the Graco Headwise 70 for Target being the second.
Luckily, I was able to track down a seller who was willing to ship one of the few they had left in stock the same day. It shipped on Monday 5/19 and I received it on Thursday 5/22. I was so excited to get home and install this baby! Oh man, how my life has changed. Who knew car seat releases would be so exciting?!
The first thing I noticed was the weight of the seat. With a steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides, I kind of expected this. It folds up nicely and you can purchase a Diono Radian Carry Strap for easy travel. This is an awesome feature, but I will probably need to have my husband to carry it due to the weight.
I was expecting a fairly difficult install in comparison to what I am used to, given that the keyfit is probably the easiest car seat in the world to install using the LATCH system. I was pleasantly surprised. I ran into a few hiccups along the way, but honestly after I figured out what I was doing the process was fairly smooth and took about a half hour. This video was fairly helpful for clarifying some of the not so clear directions in the included instruction manual. The video is specifically for the Radian model (not the Rainier) so be sure to read the included manual for directions. However, the install process was not much different than what is demonstrated below
Since I am a newbie, I struggled at first finding a few key things:I wasn’t 100% clear on how to correctly attach the detachable base. The key being to lock the seat in it’s unfolded position first. Then, insert the base into the holes on the bottom of the seat. Slide it back until it is aligned with the metal tab lock. Press the metal tab down and ensure that it is locked in place. Pretty easy.
The next thing that took me some time to figure out was how exactly to install using the rear facing LATCH. After a bit of investigating I learned that you should not use this method for a rear facing child over 35 lbs. Here is a photo of it installed:
This is what it looks like installed in the back seat of our 2013 Hyundai Sonata:
This, for me at least, was a lot easier than trying to maneuver all of the LATCH straps. Make sure that your car has the proper seat belt locking features! Read your car’s manual to determine if it does. Following the directions in the manual to install the top tether and the tether connecting strap (for rear facing only) was fairly easy and self explanatory. At this point, I am pretty impressed with myself (and Diono) at the ease of installation for a newbie! Granted, I have now read the instruction manual cover to cover at least 10 times.Now the ultimate test, will it pass Baby J’s final judgement?
Yup, adorable baby approved!
So far so good! Overall, I am VERY happy that I waited for this car seat and didn’t give up on my first Diono purchase after my first failed attempt to purchase. Having one delivered only 8 days after the release date was AWESOME! I am impressed by the comfort level for Baby J and the ease of install. I am yet to install forward facing but I am confident that it will run just as smoothly. Diono boasts the most compact space saving design, allowing for 3 across rear facing. Not a selling point for us yet, but an important feature nonetheless. It is very easy to install, especially for a newbie mom! It appears incredibly comfortable for the little guy, important for those long car rides (do they make an adult size?). In general, this is just a good looking seat! The husband refers to it as “sexy”. So happy I waited for this seat and I will definitely want another in the future if God were to bless us with the need for one! 😉
Close up of the fabric. – Featured color is “Shadow”
Disclosure: I was NOT compensated in any way for this post. It is my honest review of a product that I own. However, this post does contain affiliate links. That just means, if you click those links and make a purchase, you help me keep my blog bringing you awesomeness non-stop!