The Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air offers a 35-pound weight capacity, the highest capacity available among infant carriers. With a 4-pound minimum weight, parents are able to use the OnBoard 35 Air longer than many infant car seats, allowing them to keep their babies in the rear-facing position as long as possible. (The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that babies be kept in the rear-facing position for two years.) It earns excellent ratings for crash protection in independent tests and is praised in reviews for its ease of installation.
At 9 pounds, it's not the lightest or the heaviest infant car seat available, and some reviews say it can become difficult to carry as a child nears the upper weight limit. One common complaint is that it's a tight fit in smaller vehicles and there are some durability issues. Reviews indicate that the sun canopy may break, doesn't stay in place well, and the fabric may pill over time. If you're looking for a higher-capacity car seat that fits well in most smaller vehicles, reviews point to the Chicco KeyFit 30 (*Est. $200), which also earns high marks for safety and ease of use.
ConsumerReports.org includes the Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air in its latest roundup of infant car seat testing. This is the only non-government source conducting independent crash testing of car seats. Authors of the baby-gear book "Baby Bargains" discuss the OnBoard 35 Air in the ninth edition, released in 2011, in which they provide letter grades for dozens of car seats. Babble.com's annual car seat recommendations include the OnBoard 35 Air as a readers' choice pick; editors also provide a thorough review of pros and cons. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts analysis of ease of use, evaluating the clarity of instructions, fit to vehicle and ease of installation. Owner feedback is somewhat limited, but there are about a dozen reviews posted to Amazon.com.
The Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air is one of 18 car seats with a capacity of more than 22 pounds evaluated in ConsumerReports.org's latest roundup. Car seats are evaluated in independent tests for crash protection, ease of use and fit to vehicle.
Review: Infant Car Seats, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
2. Baby Bargains
Consumer advocates Denise and Alan Fields evaluate dozens of infant car seats for safety, ease of use and ease of installation. Independent testing isn't conducted, although ratings from ConsumerReports.org and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are taken into consideration.
Review: Infant Car Seats, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth edition
Readers of Babble.com vote the Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air into the 2011 infant car seats roundup. Editors say the OnBoard 35 Air offers ample leg room and is an ideal choice if you want a car seat capable of accommodating infants from preemie (4 pounds or more) up to about two years of age.
Review: Readers' Choice Infant Car Seats: Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air, Editors of Babble.com, 2011
4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Editors of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration critique 30 infant car seats for ease of use, evaluating the clarity of instructions, ease of securing a child and ease of vehicle installation. The Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air earns an overall ease of use rating of 3 stars out of 5.
Review: Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air, Editors of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
5. Good Housekeeping
The Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air is one of nine infant car seats evaluated by testers for Good Housekeeping magazine. Editors say the OnBoard 35 Air is easy to attach and remove from its base, and the harness is easily adjustable. On the downside, the cover is hand-wash only.
Review: Infant Car Seat Reviews, Editors of Good Housekeeping
About 20 owners have reviewed the Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air, contributing to an average rating of 3.8 stars out of 5. Parents say the OnBoard 35 Air is easy to install and use, but there are some complaints of minor durability issues. It's also too large to fit in some smaller vehicles.
Review: Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air Infant Car Seat, Contributors to Amazon.com