From the infant stage to the toddler one (and sometimes even beyond), the Graco Children's Products, Inc. product line has many options to offer. This company's designs don't just take into consideration the safety and comfort of the child, but also the practical needs of busy parents.
High Chairs and Boosters
Whether you want a stand-alone chair or a booster seat for your little one, Graco has you covered. You can find Graco high chairs and boosters at stores like Walmart, Target, buybuy BABY, and Amazon. You can get a booster seat for as little as $30.00 (up to about $70.00), but high chairs will range from about $100.00 to $200.00.
- Baby Gear Spot gave this high chair the Best Design award. It doesn't take up a lot of space, but you get design features you'd expect with a bigger chair, like the ability to recline, a wipeable and machine-washable fabric pad, and ease of folding and putting away (you can do it with one hand!).
- The Blossom™ DLX 4-in-1 Seating System will set you back about $200.00, but it's great if you want something that grows with your child. It has six height positions, three reclining positions, and it functions as a high chair, infant booster, toddler booster, and youth chair. The tray inserts are also dishwasher safe and can be removed easily with one hand. Depending on the age difference between your children, you may even be able to use it for two at one time. It can't be folded up and stored somewhere else, so this may not be the best choice for small spaces. Baby Gizmo likes this option because of its versatility, ability to seat two children at once, and the design that allows you to recline and adjust the seat with one hand. They had their reservations about the t-bar safety feature because it can make setting the tray on a flat surface awkward and could potentially cause discomfort for little boys because of the way it's positioned.
Swings and Bouncers
Baby swings and bouncers/jumpers aren't necessities, but once you see how well they can lull your baby to sleep or keep them entertained, they may feel like must-haves after all. Graco has several options to choose from. Look for them at stores like buybuy Baby, Target, Amazon, and even the Graco site. Expect to pay between $40.00 and $100.00.
- Baby Gizmo loves this swing for its mobility, how easy it is to use, how little space this style takes up, and the ability to either plug it up or use a battery. The site points out how many swaying and vibrating options it has and says it should be able to calm almost any baby.
- The Duet Soothe & Swing Rocker is a top Babylist pick for 2017 because you get two features in one and it's easy to move from room to room. This option costs around $170.00 and has two vibration settings, a rocker carrying handle, six swinging speeds, the ability to sway side-to-side or front-to-back, and it can play 10 melodies and six types of nature sounds. Baby is held secure with the five-point harness and may be mesmerized by the three toys hanging from the mobile. It can be plugged in or run on batteries.
- The Graco Bumper Jumper® entertains baby by letting them bounce in a doorway. The seat is nylon and easily machine washable. It's available in the blue Stratus and green Bear Trail patterns. It's under $40.00. A writer at Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine likes this choice because it keeps her little one occupied while she gets ready, then it's easy to remove from the door frame. She took it on a trip with her (it took up very little space in the car!) and used it to keep her baby safe in a new house that hadn't been baby-proofed.
You'll need a car seat, and Graco has everything from less expensive options babies will grow out of by 30 pounds to convertible ones that can last from infancy to elementary school (as booster seats). You can purchase Graco car seats from Graco's website, Target, Walmart, and Amazon. Expect to pay between $100.00 and $300.00. The higher end of that range is for seats that work from infancy to the booster seat stage, so you won't necessarily have to buy more than one car seat.
- Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine calls this "a dream come true." It lasts for 10 years, grows with your child, comes fully assembled, takes up surprisingly little space, has an easily adjustable harness and headrest, and was a cinch to attach in the car.
The SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 Infant Car Seat is a similar style designed to keep children rear-facing up to 40 pounds. It has an eight-position adjustable base, rotating sun shade, a five-point harness, and a harness system that allows you to adjust the head height with one hand. This one costs around $200.00. Car Seats for the Littles likes this car seat for the amount of leg room it can give a rear-facing child and how much use you get for the price you pay. However, the writer there pointed out that you'll still want a convertible seat for older kids and this seat does take up a lot of room in the car.
The Graco Contender 65 costs roughly $150.00 and is designed to hold rear-facing infants up to 40 pounds and forward-facing toddlers up to 65 pounds. The harness is adjustable without much hassle. There's a cup holder, energy absorbing foam, and the headrest adjusts to eight positions with one hand. It's recommended by Baby Gear Spot for being safe, easy to install, and an option that grows with your child, and Consumer Reports listed it as one of the top five convertible car seats because of its crash-test performance, ease of use, and how well it fit into vehicles.
Travel Systems and Strollers
Travel systems and baby strollers can make life easier. Shop the Graco site or venture out to Target, Walmart, or buybuy Baby. Expect to pay between $150.00 and $400.00.
- Reviewers at Albee Baby give Graco's FastAction Fold Jogger stroller because it takes less than a second to fold it up and it's compatible with some Graco car seats. Parents love that it's simple to use, but many complain the cell phone and cup holders are too small. They recommend this one for off-road walks and trails. It's easy to lift and holds children up to 50 pounds. Expect to pay around $160.00.
- The Graco RoomFor2™ Classic Connect™ and Click Connect™ Stroller is the perfect solution if you have two kids a few years apart in age, and it's less than $120.00. There's the reclining seat in front for the younger child, and the bench or standing platform behind that for the older one (up to 50 pounds). It works with the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect and Click Connect infant car seats. Reviewers at Baby Depot give it a 4.7 out of 5 for value.
Pack 'n Play
Whether you just need a safe place for baby to play in the living room or you travel enough to need a place for him or her to sleep, a pack 'n play is a go-to item for lots of parents. Several models are around $200.00, but there are some simpler models that cost less than $100.00.
- Pack 'n Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX earned 4.5 stars at Amazon.com. Expect to pay less than $180.00 for this setup, which includes a portable vibrating bouncer seat, changing station (as well as storage options for diapers, creams, and more), bassinet, and spacious playpen. BabyCenter reviewers liked it because of its price, storage, portability, and convenience. Several moms use this in their living rooms during the day even though baby sleeps somewhere else at night.
- For something simpler and less expensive, there's the Pack 'n Play Ashford, which is less than $45.00, easy to fold up and move (it even has its own carrying bag), and made for kids from the infant stage until age two. Over 1000 Walmart reviewers gave this an average score of 4.7.
The Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Twins Bassinet might be just what you're looking for if you need a portable, lightweight, convenient option for two babies at once. It'll only set you back about $230.00, and the wheels and carrying case make it easy to move around. Each bassinet has a canopy to shield the babies from bright light. Babylist put this on their must-haves list for parents of twins. They recommend this one for parents who want their babies in their room for the first few months, plus they point out that they won't outgrow this design too quickly.
Where to Buy Graco
Graco's "Where to Buy" section on their website shows that, in addition to buying right from their website, you can purchase Graco products at:
- Albee Baby
- Baby Depot at Burlington
- Baby List
- buybuy Baby
- JC Penney
- Sam's Club
Recalls and Complaints
While Graco has mostly been a reliable and trusted name for parents and their products generally receive four or more stars (of five) on retailers' sites, they haven't weathered the last several decades without complaints, lawsuits, or recalled products.
In 2014, they recalled roughly six million car seats (some for toddlers, some for infants) that were made between 2009 and mid-2013 because the harness buckles could get stuck, according to Consumerist. The recall included 3.7 convertible seats and toddler/safety seats such as Comfy Sport, Cozy Cline, Classic Ride 50, Head Wise, My Ride 65, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smart Seat, Argos 70, Nautilus, and Nautilus Edge. A second recall expanded to include 1.9 infant seat harnesses related to the same issue. Eleven Graco strollers were recalled in 2014. Those were manufactured between August 2000 and September 2014. In these cases, it was because of potential lacerations or amputation. Graco also had to pay three million dollars in fines because they were slow to report and act on the problem and another seven million dollars to make improvements on child seat safety.
A May 2017 report from CNN says Graco once again was forced to recall more car seats (over 25,000 in this case). These were the My Ride 65 seats, recalled because they "might not adequately restrain children during a crash." These seats were made between May and August of 2014, and model numbers included 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015 and 1794334. Harness webbing breakage during a crash was the problem here.
Roughly 36,000 Graco Table2Table 6-in-1 Highchairs were recalled in March 2018 due to a fall hazard. These highchairs were sold new only at Walmart with the model number 1969721. Five minor injuries were reported when the rear leg of the highchair pivoted out of position causing the chair to fall over. Customers are entitled to a free repair kit to fix the issue.
More general user complaints regarding strollers, listed on Consumer Affairs, involve color selection, weight that makes it difficult to maneuver the stroller upstairs, difficulty cleaning, and the size of the sun shades on strollers. One reviewer reported rusty, squeaky wheels. Overall, however, reviews are positive for strollers even on the Consumer Affairs site. Graco strollers earned just under 4.5-star rating.
Graco baby products as a whole only received a 3.0-star rating overall at Consumer Affairs and continue to garner high ratings across retailers. Some complaints at Consumer Affairs cited high chairs that toppled over with a shift in weight, difficulty working the seat belt through a car seat due to lack of room for larger hands, an odor coming from the Pack 'n Play, inability to get replacement parts quickly, and pieces that break and need to be replaced well before they should.
Many Graco items work together (carriers and strollers, for example), so take a look at everything they have to offer before making a purchase or adding anything to your registry. You may want some items specifically from the Graco brand just to make life easier with compatible items. Now part of Newell Brands and headquartered in Toronto, Graco has been a trusted brand name for parents for generations, so they're worth considering when you're getting ready for your new baby.