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Summer Affirm 335 Rear Facing Only Car Seat Review – Car Seats For The Littles

Summar Affirm 335

The number of rear facing car seats that fit passengers who weigh as little as 3 pounds is quite short. With many NICUs discharging the tiniest of patients when they weigh right around 3 pounds, finding the right car seat for that first ride home has been a challenge for many hospital-based CPS programs. There is a very short list of car seats that are rated down to 3 pounds so any new entry on that list captures our attention!  When we learned that the Summer Affirm 335 car seat was available and rated to 3 pounds, we were eager to check it out.

CSFTL Quick Stats

Measurements

Features

Handle Positions

Summer Affirm 335 handle positions

The handle has 4 positions, each with a different purpose. The handle must be locked in position 2 when carrying the carrier. Positions 1 and 2 are for use in the vehicle, position 2 is also for carrying the carrier, positions 3 and 4 are for loading or unloading the child.

Anti-Rebound Handle Position

Summer Affirm 335 handle position 1

Handle position 1 positions the handle right near the back of the vehicle seat.

Extra Padding

Summer Affirm 335 insert

The infant body insert is optional for children who weigh between 3 and 11 pounds. It cannot be used after the child weighs 11 pounds. This insert can only be used when the harness is in the first or second harness slots and the crotch buckle is in the inner or middle crotch buckle slot.

We found that the insert is quite thin — it only added about 1/4 of an inch of height under the child.  In most other car seats, adding an insert changes the measurement of the harness slots by at least 1/2 inch.

Infant Insert Rules/Challenges

The insert has hook and loop straps that must be threaded through the top harness slot, then fastened. The insert should only be attached at that top harness slot.

The insert itself is one large piece, we found it a bit floppy at the edges — check out our preemie doll’s picture for an example of this.

Preemie Use

We see this type of warning with most car seats — DO NOT use this or any other child restraint with a premature, low birth weight, or medically fragile infant, until you have consulted with your doctor. We’ll make our usual note that in most cases, the child’s doctor may not be a CPST but many hospitals with a NICU do have some type of CPS program. We encourage all caregivers to utilize the CPS resources available to them, especially parents of preemies who are getting ready to head home for the first time.

Reminder: our Facebook group is available for virtual assistance around the clock!

The Affirm 335 arrives assembled with the harness installed in the second set of harness slots and the middle crotch buckle slot. This approximates an average-sized newborn, for many families this would make the seat ready to go right out of the box!

Crotch Buckle Rules

The crotch buckle webbing must be in the slot closest to, but not under the child.

Optional Shorter Crotch Buckle

Summer Affirm 335 crotch buckles

Families who anticipate bringing home a 3 or 4 pound infant in this seat have a great new option available to help those tiny passengers fit even better — a shorter crotch buckle.  The manufacturer was kind enough to send us one for this review.  It made an already good preemie fit become an excellent preemie fit.  We’d suggest that any family who is bringing home a tiny infant in this seat contact Summer to order one of these crotch buckles.  Note: the instructions included with this shorter buckle are very clear: “When your child reaches the point they need to move from the inner crotch buckle slot to the middle crotch slot position, this is a good time to switch back to the longer black buckle strap in order to accommodate your growing child.”

Harness Loop Rules

The harness has an extra set of loops for use with the tiniest of passengers.

Here are the rules around those loops:

The trick here is to remember to move the harness straps to the outer loop once the child weighs more than 8 pounds. When the inner loop is used, the harness straps should be in front of the splitter plate.

Rethread Harness

The Affirm 335 has a rethread harness, which means that the harness must be moved to the next set of harness slots as the child grows. The harness straps must be at or below the child’s shoulders.

Recline Angle Adjustment

Summer Affirm 335 recline angle indicator

To adjust the recline angle on the base, pull up the recline adjustment lever while holding the front of the base. Extend or retract the recline foot until the blue square is fully visible in the level indicator window. The blue square must be fully visible in the window.

A rolled towel at the foot end of the carrier can be used to adjust the recline angle if necessary.

2 Button Chest Clip

Summer Affirm 335 chest clip

The Affirm 335’s chest clip is pretty unique — it has two buttons instead of one.  Fastening the chest clip is pretty straightforward — just slide the two sides of the clip together.  But releasing the clip requires first pressing the button on the adult’s left side, then the right. This maneuver took a bit of getting used to.

Float Carry Handle

Summer Affirm 335 float handle

There’s a little nub on the underside of the handle attachment that’s designed to be a place where a caregiver can grab onto when carrying the carrier portion of the Affirm 335.  Rather than carrying the carrier by the handle, caregivers can thread their arm through the handle, then grab onto this little nub (the manual refers to it as a “knuckle”) to balance the seat’s weight.

Installation with the Base

Lower Anchors

Summar Affirm 335 lower anchors

To install the Affirm 335 with the base using lower anchors, set the base on the vehicle seat with the taller end of the base facing the back of the vehicle. Adjust the recline foot to the correct recline correct angle. Note that this angle may change a bit as the lower anchor webbing tightens.

Summer Affirm 335 handle

Rotate the handle on base to fully open the Belt Tensioning Arm. This handle is shaped a bit differently than the release mechanisms on most car seats — it’s a roller.

Summer Affirm 335 arm extended

The Belt Tensioning Arm opens slowly, and sort of ratchets up as it’s fully extended. Once the Belt Tensioning Arm is fully open, remove the lower anchor connectors from the storage area. Extend the webbing to its longest length, then route the webbing through the blue belt guides on both sides of the base. We found that the lower anchor webbing was on the short side, though it was long enough to reach both lower anchors in my 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander. Before proceeding, ensure that the webbing lies flat in the belt path. This webbing is connected to the base by another loop of webbing, we found that the webbing sort of curls in this attachment point but we were able to get the webbing flat enough in each of the belt guides.

Attach the lower anchor connectors on the base to the lower anchors in the vehicle. Confirm that both of the anchors are connected to the vehicle base by pulling on the webbing. Press down on the base with one hand while removing the slack from the lower anchor webbing with the other hand. Do not overtighten the webbing — you’ll need a little slack in order for the tensioning arm to properly secure the webbing.

Close the Belt Tensioning Arm. If this is difficult, the lower anchor webbing may be too tight. Should that happen, loosen the webbing slightly, then try to close and lock the arm. Check your work by giving the base a firm handshake at the belt path. The base should move less than an inch in any direction.

Insert the carrier into the base until you hear a click. Re-check the recline angle indicator. Lift up on the carrier to be sure that it is securely in the base before heading out for a ride.

Vehicle Seat Belt

Summer Affirm 335 vehicle seat belt

To install the Affirm 335 with the base using the vehicle seat belt, set the base on the vehicle seat with the taller end of the base facing the back of the vehicle. Rotate the handle on the base to fully open the Belt Tensioning Arm. The Belt Tensioning Arm opens slowly, and sort of ratchets up as it’s fully extended. Once the Belt Tensioning Arm is fully open, thread the lap and shoulder portions of the vehicle seat belt through both of the blue belt guides on the base. Make sure that the vehicle seat belt is not twisted and that it lies flat in the belt path.

Summer Affirm 335 vehicle seat belt installation

Buckle the seat belt, then close the belt tensioning arm. Lock the vehicle shoulder belt by pulling the shoulder belt all the way out then feeding the belt back into the vehicle’s retractor. Some seats that have a similar tensioning arm, or lockoff do not require that the seat belt be locked but the manual lists this as the next step in the installation.

The manufacturer clarified that locking the vehicle seat belt is optional (but preferred) in this case.  We would love to see the manual updated to reflect this.

If the vehicle seat belt has a convenience button or loop that’s getting in the way of the Belt Tensioning Arm closing properly, the manual suggests adjusting the recline foot as long the base is still level, moving the base to another seating location, or using the lower anchors instead.

Installation Without the Base — Euro Routing

Summer Affirm 335 without the base

The Affirm 335 can be installed without the base via two different vehicle seat belt routings — with the lap portion of the belt only or with Euro routing, where the shoulder portion of the vehicle seat belt wraps around the back of the carrier and slides into a clip for extra stability.  The manuals states that the handle must be in position 2 when installing the Affirm 335 via this method.  Our friends at Summer Infant clarified that the handle can be in position 1 or 2 once the seat is installedWe would love to see the manual updated to reflect this permission.

At first, I was concerned because the top edge of the cover seemed to get into the way of the clip on the back but I didn’t end up having any issues with threading the vehicle seat belt through this clip.

To install the Affirm 335 without the base, set the carrier on the vehicle seat with the harness facing the rear of the vehicle.  Thread the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt through the black belt guides on the sides of the carrier.

Note: I had some trouble getting the seat belt threaded through the guide on the far side of the carrier.  I suspect that this will improve as the padding starts to compress a bit.

Once the lap belt is threaded through the belt guides, buckle the vehicle seat belt.  Then, carefully pull the shoulder portion of the belt out from the retractor until there’s enough slack to wrap around the back of the carrier and be threaded through the clip.  This should take up just about the entire length of the seat belt, it’s likely that the retractor will engage at this point.  If for some reason, it has not, once the belt is threaded through all three belt guides, pull the belt out from the vehicle until the seat belt locks, then feed the slack back into the retractor.

The carrier will likely be installed snugly at this point.  If there’s still some movement at the belt path, press down on the carrier while feeding the slack back into the retractor until there’s less than an inch of movement at the belt path.

Pro tip: if you’re installing the seat using this method because you’re using a ride share vehicle or a taxi, leave the vehicle’s door open until the seat is installed and your child is secured.  This will prevent an eager driver from taking off too soon.

The manual permits the carrier to touch the vehicle seat or seats in front of it as long as the recline angle of the car seat is not changed by this touching.  Please confirm that your vehicle allows this as well.

Installation Without the Base — Traditional Routing

Summer Affirm 335 without the base

The handle must be in position 2 when installing the Affirm 335 via this method.

To install the Affirm 335 without the base, set the carrier on the vehicle seat with the harness facing the rear of the vehicle.  Thread the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt through the black belt guides on the sides of the carrier.

Note: I had some trouble getting the seat belt threaded through the guide on the far side of the carrier.  I suspect that this will improve as the padding starts to compress a bit.

Once the lap belt is threaded through the belt guides, buckle the vehicle seat belt.  Then, press down on the carrier with one hand while removing the slack from the vehicle seat belt with the other.  Once the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt is secure, hold it in place with one hand, then pull the seat belt all the way out to engage the retractor and switch the belt into child seat mode.  Feed the seat belt back into the retractor (it should click as it retracts, if it’s not clicking, the belt isn’t in child seat mode) until the seat is snug.  Check your work by giving the seat a firm handshake with your non-dominant hand.  It should move less than an inch in any direction.

Cover Maintenence

Machine wash in cold water on the delicate cycle using mild detergent. Drip dry — the cover cannot be dried in the dryer.

Fit to Child

Summer Affirm 335 preemie doll

Our preemie Huggable Images doll weighs 4 pounds and is 17 inches long. The Affirm 335 fits children as small as 3 pounds and 15 inches long.

We found that the harness fit on our preemie doll was pretty good — with the harness pads on, it appears that the harness is a teeny bit above the doll’s shoulders, but those covers are covering the fact that the harness itself is right at the doll’s shoulders.

We’d assert that the fit on a child who is slightly smaller than our doll would be equally good but we do want to re-assert that caregivers who are taking a 3 pound child home should work with the CPS program at their hospital to confirm that the fit is good for the child.

Preemie Doll — with Shorter Crotch Buckle

Summer Affirm 335 preemie with shorter crotch buckle

Our doll still weighs 4 pounds and is 17 inches long.  We’ve tasked our cooperative doll with demonstrating the difference in fit between the standard crotch buckle and the optional one we received from the manufacturer.

Note: this shorter crotch buckle is NOT sold in stores or with the seat, families must reach out to the manufacturer to order one. 

We found that this shorter crotch buckle took an already good preemie fit to the next level — it’s an excellent fit.  Though the change is small, it it noticeable.  We’d suggest that any family who is preparing to bring home a 3 or 4 pound family member reach out to Summer Infant to order this shorter crotch buckle. The buckle can be replaced with the original crotch buckle when the child is large enough to move from the inner crotch buckle slot to the middle crotch slot position.

Newborn Doll — with Insert

Summer Affirm 335 newborn doll with insert

Our newborn doll weighs 7 pounds and is 17 inches long.  The insert is optional for children who weigh less than 11 pounds so we asked our doll to try the seat both ways — with and without the insert.  I found that the doll fit slightly better with the insert in place.

Newborn Doll — without Insert

Summer Affirm 335 newborn doll without insert

Our doll still weighs 7 pounds and is 17 inches long.  Here we can see the fit to child without the insert in place.  While this setup still provides an acceptable fit, the fit for this doll with the insert in place was more consistent.

16 Month Old Doll

Summer Affirm 335 16 month old doll

The Affirm 335 has a maximum height of 32 inches tall so we asked our 16 month old doll to model the seat as well. Our doll is 31 inches tall and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the doll does fit! The seat’s interior is wide enough that the doll isn’t terribly cramped. It’s pretty rare that a family would use a rear facing only car seat this long but knowing that our doll fits is a nice bonus.

Important Information — Where to Find

Summer Affirm 335 manual storage

Manual storage — the manual can be stored on the backside of the panel on the arm or on under the cover of the carrier itself.

Summer Affirm 335 date of manufacture label

Date of manufacture label — the Affirm 335 has a 6 year expiration period. The date of manufacture is printed on a label that’s on the top of the base.

Summer Affirm 335 lower anchor storage

Lower anchor storage — the lower anchors store in a compartment on the base.

Summer Affirm 335 FAA approval label

FAA approval — the carrier can be used onboard aircraft, the base cannot. The approval label is located on a label on the back of the carrier.

Overall Thoughts

The Affirm 335 is a budget-friendly seat that includes we found quite easy to install.  We know that a lot of caregivers worry about installing their child’s car seat correctly — especially that very first car seat — so we applaud any seat that takes the stress out of this critical task.  In addition, we found that the seat fit our models quite well.  It’s lightweight and because it is rated down to 3 pounds, we find that the Affirm 335 has a lot to offer.

This content was originally published here.

Summer Affirm 335 Rear Facing Only Car Seat Review – Car Seats For The Littles
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