An economical car seat that faces both rearward and forward and will last until your child is 4. Extremely heavy and very bulky but once installed it gives peace of mind that your child is safe.
The Graco Junior Mini car seat is an economical buy that will transport your baby from birth through to their toddler years. It’s a big but versatile investment that can be used facing rearward to 9kg and facing forward until your child is 4.
At first look, it’s hard to imagine a newborn baby lying comfortably in the Graco Junior Mini. The sheer size of the seat is daunting and the unit, which forms the base of the seat, makes it even bigger. But this award winning Group 0+/1 car seat is deeply padded, and has a cushioned, newborn insert.
When using the Graco Junior Mini is rear facing mode, a u-shaped rebound bar fits into the base of the seat to provide extra protection in a collision. In the forward facing mode, the Graco Junior Mini car seat reclines in four positions, so when your baby drifts of to sleep head lolling is less of a problem. The recline adjustment is controlled by a handle at the front of the seat.
The 5-point harness system is secured by a one-click buckle and the harness straps are covered with anti-slip material that aim to reduce the forward motion experienced in a crash.
As with all Graco products, safety is paramount and the Junior Mini conforms to ECE regulation R44.04 (all car seats sold in the UK must conform to the United Nations ECE Regulation R44.03 or later standard R44.04).
What we love
Upgrading your car seat after a year can prove an expensive business. So, the Graco Junior Mini, which lasts from birth to 4 years, is a budget-savvy buy.
The Graco Junior Mini swallowed up Minnie, 8 months, and I needed to use the newborn insert to make her comfortable (she is on the small side). But once in, she was cushioned and seemed comfortable. The deep padding also gives you the reassurance that this seat is super safe.
At just over 9kg, Minnie is on the cusp of being able to use the seat facing forward and when I turned her around, she enjoyed the ride - the base unit lifts the seat up so that your baby gets a good view of the world outside the car.
What to look out for
This is the Mike Tyson of car seats, weighing in at a whopping 9.5kg (many Group 0 and Group 0+ seats weigh around 3.5kg). As a consequence the Graco Junior Mini is not portable.
The instructions are clear but when it came to fitting it things went wrong. For a start, my seat belt was only just long enough to fit around the seat and through the belt guides. And, in the rear facing position, finding the guides and threading the belt through was difficult and required Inspector Gadget arms.
The size of the Graco Junior Mini is the most off-putting feature. It measures 65cm wide and in the rear of my car took up one and a half seats. Despite having a large estate (a Peugeot 307), there’s no way you could get two people and this seat in the back. If you own a Ford Fiesta this may not be the car seat for you.
In rear facing mode Minnie had to be wiggled into position and because the seat is so high (68cm) her head was jammed up against the roof.
The recline mechanism looks simple to use but is clunky and jerky and not conducive to keeping your babe asleep. And, it requires two hands to operate.
Who is the Graco Junior Mini car seat best for?
Parents seeking a value-for-money car seat with longevity that they don’t plan to swap between cars.
With a rear and a forward facing mode, the Graco Junior Mini will grow with your child. But what you gain in versatility and comfort you lose in size and portability. So, unless you own a very large car you may need to think twice about this one.