The final review from our selection of Graco products is the Graco Milestone All-in-One Car Seat. Now, car seats are a very sensitive subject, because the safety of your children is of the utmost importance isn’t it? Regulations for children and car travel are changing over time – the UK law now states that children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm (4ft 5in) tall, whichever comes first, as an example.
I also feel it is worth stating that there is an ongoing discussion over the benefits of extended rear-facing, and, as a mother of two, this is something that is speaking louder and louder to me, the more I read or hear of it. And that is something I have taken into account in this review, as I think that car seats are much more complex to review, in comparison to a pram or a travel cot, as I’ve done previously.
So, the Milestone is a 3-in-1 car seat that converts into three different car seats – a bit like a Transformer, except perhaps less jazzy. And, as I mentioned before, given the new UK car seat guidelines for children, this would be a perfect option to see from birth through to 12 years of age.
I think this is a really key point to make, because having a child is not exactly a cheap option to make in life. And there are a lot of things that are absolutely necessary and unavoidable, especially when it comes to their safety. And a car seat is right up there with a purchase you need to make, if you have a car.
So, the car seat converts in to three stages:
- First stage: Group 0, rear facing, ages 0+, suitable for 0-13kg.
- Second stage: Group 1, forward facing with harness, suitable for up to 18kg.
- Third stage: Group 2/3, high-backed booster that uses the seat belt, suitable from 15-36kg.
So really, this means you can bring them home as a tiny, curled up newborn bundle, and then see them way into high school with school runs all made from one car seat – it could potentially even outlast your actual car!
Ease of use
Now, when you hear that the Milestone has three different stages, you’d probably think that it means you need to keep different parts and pieces safe for moving up as your child grows. But the best thing about the Milestone is that what you see is what you get – you use the red handle at the top of the car seat to expand it, based on height, by pulling it upwards. And the level at the bottom takes it into different reclines (two for the first stage) or stages (1, 2 and 3), best suited for your little one. The only thing you need remove is the padding suitable for younger babies. But that’s one thing to look after and keep safe, rather than a whole box full.
The harness straps for the first two stages have a compartment where they can be folded away and stored, keeping them safe, should the car seat go from one child to another over time.
The Graco Milestone fixes into cars using the seatbelt, which is convenient for some families like us, who have a car that is not compatible with Isofix. This is actually a bug-bear of mine though, and our next car most certainly will have that feature! So, depending on you and your preferences, the seatbelt fix may be a perk or a downside.
So, we’ve been trying the Milestone out with our daughter Daisy, who is currently eight months old. We have had the Milestone for a couple of weeks and I have to say that it has been a real joy to use. It seems so sturdy and secure and I love that about it, I also find it really simple to strap Daisy in and out, because of where the seatbelt lies in the base of the seat. There’s no double-buckling needed and, once it’s in, it’s very permanent.
What I will say, on that note, is that getting it in was quite tough! We have a Ford Focus, which isn’t a particularly small car, and I had to move the front passenger seat (usually my seat) forward a notch, just to squeeze it in! This is obviously due to it being such a big seat that caters for a 12 year-old, as well as a baby under one like Daisy, but it did make me wonder how smaller cars would fare in the rear-facing position. I don’t think forward-facing would be an issue due to the opposite angles, but it’s really worth noting. I also found that it was very hard to get our seatbelt all the way around the seat and into the buckle, but we find it quite tight with all car seats that we use, so it could well just be our car. Definitely ask if you can test the seat in your car first though, or check the returns policy wherever you purchase your car seat from. This goes for all car seats though, not just the Milestone.
Safety-wise, because of the sheer size and how secure it feels, I felt really happy for Daisy to ride in this. And it is so padded and comfortable for her, that she seems really quite happy. You often wiggle a car seat to make sure there isn’t much give when it’s installed don’t you? And the Milestone barely budges, and I feel quite confident in its ability to keep Daisy safe.
A few perks for Daisy include the fact that, as a rear-facing seat, she is has a much better vantage point as the Milestone is slightly higher up so she can see out of the rear window nicely. She’s also at a better level with her brother now, which I like for them both, as it means they can interact much more easily when riding together. It also has a cup holder which is great for drinks, snacks or dummies!
I obviously can’t comment on what it’s like in the following stages, but I can say that my little boy is able to fit in the Milestone very comfortably indeed, though we have tried not to encourage that in case he feels left-out of having a brand new seat to use!
Things you will probably love
So, as a really quick recap, I’ve listed the perks of the Milestone and what you will most probably love about it:
- 3-in-1 car seat from birth until age 12. What a bargain.
- Two recline options in stage one. Perfect for newborns who need to be extra comfy.
- No extra parts needed.
- Easy to change between stages.
- Uses seatbelt installation, which is perfect for any car.
- Great design – nice neutral colours that will most likely match your car.
- Extremely padded and comfortable.
- Arm rests that are great for older children.
- Compartment to store harness straps when in the third stage which utilises the seatbelt instead.
Things you might not like
So, I always like to be honest in these sorts of reviews and I will always highlight things that could pose an issue for you, even if they don’t for me. I think, overall, the Milestone is a brilliant all-rounder car seat, which is a great investment considering that you can keep your child safe from birth to age 12. But there are a few areas that may cause a few bumps in the road (pun completely intended!)
The Milestone is not suitable for rear-facing past the first stage (nor is it compatible with new iSize regulations), and I know this is something that is now on more and more parents’ radars at the moment, including mine. I think, by my son’s age (he is four and probably the height of a five year-old) I don’t think rear-facing would be comfortable, or even possible for him, but for Daisy (who is eight months) I feel like I’d like to look into her being rear-facing for longer. I believe that Graco are looking at this for future models though, which is great that they are so switched on to parents’ needs and concerns.
As mentioned before, there is no Isofix option with this car seat, which isn’t really a big issue, but it may be something that can be a let-down for you as it’s so convenient isn’t it? But it’s worth noting again that you need to prepare for plenty of buckling and installing, which can be a pain if you switch cars frequently.
The final point to make is that it isn’t compatible as a travel system, which can be a huge selling point for parents of newborns in those early days. The convenience (and peace) of being able to take a sleeping baby from the car and out and about, without waking or disturbing them, is the difference between being able to do a grocery shop, or simply just get a coffee, in peace, and feeling stressed with a screaming baby in the middle of Tesco. But, this has got to be expected with a model that goes from birth to 12 years – it’s an extremely sturdy car seat, and there are always some things you have to sacrifice for a relatively short-lived perk.
All of these issues, it is worth noting, do not affect the usability or the safety of the car seat (according to the latest UK regulations) in any way. So, it’s absolutely based on your preference as a parent. But I hope it helps you to work out whether the Milestone would work for you.
Cost and conclusion
It retails at around £149.99, which considering it takes you from birth to age 12, is great value for money. If you purchase from Halfords, they can teach you how to install it as well, which is a plus for overall safety and satisfaction (and checking it fits with your car).
I think it’s a great choice for families who want something built to last, that fits all current regulations, and keeps your child safe and supported. I do wonder if, in time, safety regulations may change for car seats again, but for now, this is a great option and it’s sturdy, well-made and very good value for money. We’re really happy with it and I think you will be too if it ticks your boxes!
You can find out more about the Graco Milestone All-in-One Car Seat over on the Graco website. I hope you found this review helpful! Why not read our Graco Nimble Nook review and the Graco Modes 3 Lite review next?
*PR Collaboration. We were sent the Graco Milestone for review, but, as always, all thoughts are my own.