The Graco convertible car seat clones are among my favorite car seats on the market. Whenever parents email me asking for recommendations to help them practice extended rear-facing and note that they’re willing to spend whatever it takes to make it happen, I tend to recommend seats like the Fllo, Foonf, Rainier, or Pacifica, which allow you to rear-face until 50 pounds.
However, if they’re on tighter budgets, I steer them toward seats like the My Size 65, Head Wise 70, Size4Me 65, and Contender, because they cost less than $200 on Amazon and allow parents to rear-face most children until they turn 4. And given the fact that most parents are still turning their children forward-facing between 1 and 2, any seat that helps make parents make a safer decision for their children is a seat worth recommending over and over again.
The Fit4Me 65 is yet another addition to the Graco stable of 40-pound rear-facing convertible car seats, and after taking a close look at one for the past week (they’re available for a song on Amazon with free shipping), I’ve decided that this clone is as good as any of the others when it comes to inexpensive ways to practice extended rear-facing. It’s a great convertible car seat that won’t break the bank and that will also let you fit 3 across in a number of vehicles.
The Graco Fit4Me 65 is yet another great budget-friendly convertible car seat by child safety giant Graco. It features a lot in common with its other Graco clone siblings, with the biggest differences being limited to fabric print changes and price differences. Unlike the Contender, it does come with a pair of LATCH connectors, and unlike the Size4Me or My Size, it comes with a ball level indicator on the side to give you a more accurate way of determining your recline angle. Besides these basic differences, it’s just about the same seat.
When you get to the heart of it, the Graco Fit4Me is a convertible car seat that features very high height limits, which means that the majority of children will be able to sit in it in a rear-facing position until they outgrow the seat rear-facing at 40 pounds. Because it’s a convertible seat, it can then be used in a forward-facing configuration for another 25 pounds of weight.
Since the Fit4Me, like its clone seats, features a wide range of harness strap height options and a low 4 pound starting weight limit, you can buy the Fit4Me online via Amazon, install it in your family vehicle (or better yet, install one in each vehicle where you plan on transporting your child), and use it to bring your baby home from the hospital (or birthing clinic). And because the Fit4Me comes with a 7 year lifespan, you’ll actually be able to take advantage of the 40-pound rear-facing and 65-pound forward-facing weight limits, presuming your child doesn’t outgrow it by height first.
Let’s dig into the details of the seat together.
2016 Graco Fit4Me 65 Limits for Weight and Height
Rear-facing: 4 to 40 pounds. You’ll want to rear-face as close to that 40 pound limit as you can before you turn your child forward-facing, as the rear-facing configuration is the safest position for a child in a moving vehicle. There is a 1″ rule that states that your child’s head needs to stay below 1″ of the head rest when the head rest is extended to its maximum position. Because the shell height is a full 28″ tall when it’s fully extended, just about every child out there will be able to reach 40 pounds in weight before outgrowing the seat rear-facing by height. This is one of the many reasons I love the Graco clones.
Forward-facing: 20 to 65 pounds. There is a 49″ height limit when children are forward-facing. While Graco allows you to forward-face your children from a minimum age of 1, I recommend as a reader of The Car Crash Detective that you aim to delay forward-facing for as long as you can in this, or in any other seat, and then continue to forward-face for as long as necessary before switching to a booster seat. There’s no need to rush forward-facing, especially in a seat that actually allows you to get several years out of it in the rear-facing configuration.
Dimensions and Key Stats of the Graco Fit4Me
The Fit4Me’s shell is 18.5″ wide, while the seat itself is close to 23.5″ in height and 22″ long. The seat can be used for 7 years from the date of manufacture, and the harness height ranges from 7″ at the lower end with the included infant insert to 17.5″ at the top. You can choose from 8 head rest positions and a no-rethread harness is present, You can choose from 2 crotch buckle settings, with one 4.5″ from the back of the seat and the other 6″ from the seat back. The Fit4Me weights 19 pounds, or 3 pounds more than the Contender, but about the same as the other Graco twins. Because it’s just over 18″ wide, you’ll be able to fit it in a range of small cars and SUVs, as well as larger ones, when it comes to 3 across installations. Check out the 3 across car seat guide for more ideas about seats that are likely to fit in your vehicle.
There is a lower LATCH anchor weight limit of 45 pounds that decreases to 42 pounds if the seat was made before 2015; check your seat’s manufacturing date to know for sure.
Using the Graco Fit4Me 65
The Graco Fit4Me Compared to the Size4Me, Head Wise, My Size, and Contender: Similarities and Differences
Out of the box, the Fit4Me looks nearly identical to the other Graco twins. To be honest, the biggest differences you’re likely to notice are that it’s available in slightly different colors and is molded ever-so-slightly differently than the other seats. Compared to the Contender, it features dedicated LATCH straps for both forward- and rear-facing, and it also has a lower starting weight limit of 4 pounds vs 5 pounds, which might make it a better choice than the Contender for parents of potentially smaller newborns. On the other hand, it does weigh a few pounds more than the Contender.
Installing the Graco Fit4Me 65
Installation of the Fit4Me is the same as the process for the other Graco clones, which is typical for the installation procedures for most other convertible car seats out there. You can choose between using the seat belt or LATCH when rear-facing and can use the seat belt when forward-facing. In either case, whether rear-facing or forward-facing, and whether using the LATCH system or the seat belt system, it won’t take you much time and will simply depend on your needs and preferences.
I tend to prefer LATCH installations when installing single seats and seat belt installations when installing multiple seats, especially when aiming for 3 across car seat installations. A side ball indicator helps you find the correct recline angle, which can vary between 30 and 45 degrees.
Child Fit in the Graco Fit4Me 65
One of my favorite things about the Fit4Me is how easy it is to use with newborns. Generally, convertibles marketed with minimum weights of 5 pounds may fit average-sized newborns, but they might need a bit of additional padding to do so well. However, only seats that are rated for 4 pounds or below can be expected to do a good job with regular newborns, preemies and smaller-than-average newborns. The Fit4Me does a great job with all three, and I love it for that.
Keep in mind that when you use the Fit4Me with very young children, such as newborns, you’ll absolutely need to use the infant insert (body support) if your child’s shoulders don’t reach the lowest harness setting. Similarly, you can only use the infant insert while the Fit4Me is rear-facing, and the insert must never bunch or fold behind your child. Besides that, it’s just like any other insert.
I was able to achieve a good fit with a range of kids (and a bit of patience) between the infant stage and the elementary years. The Fit4Me comes with a no-rethread harness that’s adjustable up and down in several positions. There are a number of car seats out there, particularly in the budget range, that make you rethread your harness straps whenever you need to raise or lower your harness height. In the Fit4Me, as with all the Graco clones, there’s a red handle behind the child’s head that you hold, squeeze, and then move up or down. It makes it easy to find the right harness height and it also makes it easy to have multiple children use the same seat.
There are 8 positions to choose from, ranging from 8″ to 17.5″ at the top of the shell in terms of seated torso height. If you use the infant body support, the lowest harness setting drops to 7.” As I noted above, there is a built in level indicator in the side of the Fit4Me that lets you make sure you’ve got the correct recline set up. It’s a ball level indicator, which is much more obvious than lines or obtuse markings that resemble hieroglyphics.
Additional Bonuses of the Graco Fit4Me
Because the Graco Fit4Me is essentially the same seat as the Head Wise, Size4Me, My Size, and Contender, it has the same levels of flight-friendliness. In other words, it installs easily on airplanes and has FAA approval. The sticker’s in an awkward place, however, within the back of the seat shell. This means you’ll have a tough time showing it to the feds if you have a flight attendant, TSA agent, or anyone else along the way who questions you.
Why Buy the Graco Fit4Me 65?
At this point, we’ve discussed lots of neat features in the Fit4Me, but in the end, it all comes down to one question before you buy it–what makes it worth the money? Personally, I say the Graco Fit4Me is worth the money because it lets you rear-face to 40 pounds by weight and gives you the room in height to actually reach 40 pounds. First of all, the vast majority of kids in the US are turned forward-facing much too early. Part of this is because parents don’t know better, but part of it is simply because many seats run out of height room too quickly.
Because there’s a generous amount of headroom in the Fit4Me, the likelihood of pretty much every child reaching the 40 pound rear-facing limit is very high. And rear-facing is absolutely safer than forward-facing, which is why the Swedes, who have the best child safety record in the world, don’t forward-face their kids until they turn 4. Let’s learn from the folks who use best practices. Don’t fall into the trap of forward-facing your children between 1 and 2, the way the vast majority of parents in the United States currently do. Those extra years rear-facing are worth it, and it’s worth investing in a seat that makes that possible.
Keep in mind that there are several seats that will let you rear-face beyond 40 pounds. However, 40 is much better than 35 or 30 pounds, which are your limits in the vast majority of infant seats on the market. And the Fit4Me offers the advantage of greater side impact protection and does so while taking less out of your pocket than a lot of 40-pound-capable convertible car seats on the market.
Overall, the Graco Fit4Me is a quality, well-thought out seat that offers parents the opportunity to practice extended rear-facing without breaking the bank. It’s lighter, cheaper, just as safe, and offers you the ability to keep your children safe for several years on a shoestring budget. You can buy the Graco Fit4Me in Lacey and Flip here.
Unfortunately, it’s not yet available in Canada, but Canadians can buy a similar seat, the Boulevard ClickTight, here.
If you find the information on car safety, recommended car seats, and car seat reviews on this car seat blog helpful, you can bookmark and shop through this Amazon link. Canadians can bookmark and shop through this link.