Type: Infant seat.
Limits: 4-30 lbs., up to 32″.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Not Yet.
Pros: Can install itself!* (*Glitchy app included).
Cons: $500. Issues with self-install app and process. Heavy. Harness buckle hard to open. First batch of seats were recalled for defective attachments.
Comments: “The world’s first self-installing car seat” is how 4Moms bills their first infant car seat. It sells for $500. (Given that price point, we can imagine many folks may not to read further. We understand).
Yep, you read that right: a self-installing infant car seat—plop the base in your back seat, attach LATCH anchors, push the button on the side of the seat and voila! The seat automatically tightens the straps and levels the seat. (Or at least that is how it is supposed to work).
Snap in an infant seat and the it provides a check to make sure the seat is correctly attached—and the belts are tightening, the level is at the right angle, etc. Dual LCD screens give you a thumbs up that all is well. The seat has Bluetooth (powered by eight D cell batteries) to connect to an app for “customized installation and education.”
The 4moms seat works up to 30 lbs. or 32″ and features an eight-position adjustable headrest, no-rethread harness and side impact protection via EPS foam and a “deep foot well.” An infant insert is included so the seat can start at four pounds.
The 4Moms infant car seat is compatible with 4Moms own new Moxi stroller (but still requires an adapter purchase) as well as Baby Jogger’s City Mini, Bugaboo Cameleon, UPPAbaby’s Vista and Cruz with adapters sold separately for $60.
So does the 4moms infant car seat deliver on its promises? The answer: sort of.
First, you have to install an app and pair your phone with the seat. This process was surprisingly sluggish . . . 18 minutes of our life went bye-bye waiting for it load. Then out to our car where the app asked us to scan our vehicle’s VIN . . . or enter it manually if you don’t have a bar code. It worked for us, but we see other reports online where the app didn’t recognize a vehicle’s VIN. Of course, if you enter just one of the 17 characters incorrectly, it won’t work.
In the end, we were able get a tight fit from our LATCH installation of the 4Moms infant seat. We talked with a handful of other car seat techs at a recent conference and found their experiences varied—one reported frustration with glitches in the automated system.
This is as an example of one of our Baby Bargains Car Seat Rules: don’t buy the version 1.0 of any seat—especially from a company that has never made a car seat before. There are always glitches in 1.0 seats that need to be ironed out. And this seat, with all the tech and apps is even more of a 1.0 seat.
To help us make our point, 4moms had to recall its infant car seat in January 2017 because on a small number of tested units, the seat did not lock into the base properly. On one hand, kudos to 4moms for finding this mistake and fessing up before anyone got hurt. On the other, that production glitch is embarrassing, just six months after you debuted the seat.
Perhaps some day all infant car seats will be self-installing and we’ll look back at 4moms as a pioneer. Or will the 4moms infant car seat go down like Blackberry, killed off by the iPhone? Yes, the Blackberry Pearl was an early smartphone that came out before the Apple iPhone—but you know how that story ended.
A few other caveats to this seat: the carrier itself is 11.3 lbs, which is on the hefty side. We found unbuckling the seat’s harness to be difficult, which means this is probably a no-go for care givers who have arthritis.
And let’s not forget 4moms track record for baby tech wizardry—mixed is a charitable description. The MamaRoo is a success, but the Origami stroller was/is a disaster. Read the 1-star Amazon reviews for a taste of how this “self-folding” stroller flopped, beset by quality woes (it broke, stopped folding, etc).
We are initially awarding a C rating on this seat—the high price point and version 1.0 glitches make this seat a no go for most folks, in our opinion. Rating: C