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Are Britax carseats really all that?

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
Does research exist that demonstrates that Britax carseats perform better than other correctly-used carseats of the same style? I understand that they have harnessed carseats for older kids, which is an obvious safety improvement, but is there real research showing that they're a better choice for smaller kids too?
post #2 of 71
i believe so yes... besides that i truly believe they are the most cost efficient. With dd1 we bought an infant seat, a convertible seat that sucked (alpha omega), and a 5 point harness booster (evenflo comet, she is in this now). Unfortunately i think we are going to have to get her yet another carseat because most 5 point harness boosters (including hers) only harness to 40 lbs. My dd is 4.5 and 38 lbs but is completely not ready for just a seat belt and booster... she still needs a harness. So I have to find a carseat that will harness her for another year

I bought dd2 (13 months) a britax marathon and that is the only seat we have purchased for her. Just for kicks I let my dd1 get into it and she still has one more height slot to go. If I had just gotten her the britax as an infant instead of all the other seats that would have truly been the only seat she needed until a seatbelt booster.
post #3 of 71
I also have a Britax and am interested in hearing more...
post #4 of 71
I just aquired a used Britax so I'm interested in what people say. While we're at it, can someone please tell me the correct way to pronounce Britax? I just can't find a way to say it that sounds right.
post #5 of 71
I've heard that the correct pronuciation is brI-tax with a long I. As in Brian drop the an and add tax.

Among other safety issues, britax (companion, wizard and decathalon) are some of the only seats on the market with side impact protection. There may be one or two others....

post #6 of 71
I prefer Britax because I feel as a company they are committed to my child's safety. I had a Graco car seat for DD when she was an infant and during the time I was using that they had a recall becuase they *forgot* to put an essential piece on thousands of the seats - mine wasn't missing it, but it made me look closer as Graco as a company - I added myself to the CPSC list and saw the announcements that said Graco was being fined millions of dollars because they failed to reveal problems with their products, etc.

Britax has had a recall on the Marathon child seat which is what I have - they sent us a new adjuster strap because in a small number of seats the old strap might let the child slip millimeters beyond the allowed amount - they determined this through further testing, which tells me they have a continued commitment to my child's safety even after I've purchased the seat.

But you originally asked about data - If you look at consumer reports - the Britax Companion (the infant seat) is the highest rated infant seat and the Britax Roundabout is their second highest rated Convertible seat.
post #7 of 71
i have zero research on the issue. my own personal experience and your mileage may vary:

I own a graco bucket-style infant carseat. The straps are forever getting twisted within the chest clip. I have to consistently untangle them and readjust said straps. The car seat clinic person told me for the seat to be fastened correctly the straps can't be twisted or bunched up.

I own two britax seats (roundabout and some other forward only version of the roundabout for our second car). I have had to untangle the straps on my britax seats a grand total of one time in the 2+ years I have owned them. My child is in and out of my car probably 2 times a day. That would likely be 700+ times I would have either had to say "screw it" and buckle the twisted straps or untwisted the straps had I bought the same graco brand. My own personal feeling is spending an extra 50 bucks on each seat (I bought my seats on super sale) averaged over at least 3 years: $50/900 days averages out to about 5 cents extra per day. I feel 5 cents is worth it.

I did not replace my graco infant seat for dd2 as I felt the payoff wasn't as great and the britax seat was just too darn big for me to even consider carrying to/from the house. I live in northern minnesota, carrying the baby in and out in the seat is important to me.
post #8 of 71
I would say "Yes, definatly!"

They are much easier to install (in seconds really). And very easy to use. We were recently given a carseat for this new baby, and it was brand new in the box. Dh and I took it out and tried to figure it out. Lets just say it wasn't pretty, and it involved a LOT of swearing. I kept saying over and over, "OMG, my Britax is NOTHING compared to this!" The other carseat got returned, as we do plan on getting another Britax Marathon.

We bought our first one when my dd was a year old. She rode rearfacing it in for close to another year. (and could STILL ride rearfacing, which is far safer than forward facing) She is now getting close to 3 years old, and has more than enough room to grow in it. Her sister is 7 years old, and still fits well within both height and weight restrictions for it. (and she says it really comfortable! )

They say that once you go with a Britax, you can't settle for anything less and I'd have to agree. They are cozy, cute (awesome patterns and colors), and very user friendly. Built in lock offs. Straps that don't twist. Velcro to hold the straps in place. Very soft, plush padding that you can remove quickly and WASH in the washing machine. Not all carseat covers are washable. (the new one wasn't ) I can't imagine having to spot clean a carseat. An adjuster strap that is easily located so you can tighten quickly.

All in all, I love mine! They also are really really sturdy. Compared to other seats they are very heavy, but its a good feeling for a carseat I think.
post #9 of 71
All car seats must pass the same safety tests, so all car seats are safe provided they are appropriate for the child's age and size and are installed and used correctly. Car seat manufacturers are responsible for their own testing and very few, if any, release there figures. Britax do not, so we don't have much to go on.

What sets Britax and some other car seat manufacturers apart is their ease of use features. Britax has built-in lock-offs, easier to use LATCH connectors, EPS foam, non-twist straps and higher weight limits that make their seats easier to use correctly every time, then they may well have an edge over competitors. Britax also have seats that have side impact protection and have been tested for side impacts. The new SafeGuard seat manufactured by IMMI also has these features and has been more forthcoming with their research results. They even have their crash test videos on their website:


All car seats do a wonderful job at protecting babies and children. Children that are killed in crashes are more than likely not in a car seat or in an inappropriately used car seat. Of course there are some crashes that are just not survivable whatever car seat a child is in Britax or not.

So the answer to your question is no, there is no research that shows Britax perform better for smaller kids or any kid for that matter.

FWIW, here is my best practice:

RF for as long as possible, ideally until two years old, three or four even better:


Page 5 is quite compelling...it really shows that every step UP in car seats is a step DOWN in safety. So if you all ever feel we car seat geeks are harping on about RF being so important or not putting kids in boosters till at least age 5+, well, at least there is proof now>

Of course, this study only shows rearfacing and booster seats, not forward harnessed seats...but taken together with this study from Australia, which finds top tethering to be a huge safety advantage in harnessed FF seats, I think we can put together a pretty good 'best practice' scenario for all our children:


1. Rearface to the limits of a good convertible seat (at least 30 pounds, depending on the seat, and top of head roughly even with the top of the seat shell... should be age 2-3 for most kids)

2. Harness to the limits of a forward facing seat (40-80 pounds, depending on the seat, shoulders not above the top slots, ideally seats with short slots (14-15 inches) should be replaced with taller seat (17-20 inches) for kids younger than 5).

3. A good highback booster (why highback? They reduce head injury by 70% in side impact crashes compared to no-back boosters http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-htb090905.php) until the child is too tall or heavy (57-60 inches, 80-100 pounds, depending on the seat, usually at least age 10-12 before a child fits properly in an adult seatbelt, depending on the car and the child).

4. Sitting in back till at least age 13, preferably older, because airbags are hazardous to kids throughout the early teens http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice/n...bag%20Injuries
post #10 of 71
Originally Posted by uccomama
easier to use LATCH connectors,
How do LATCH connectors vary? Mine just have 2 clips that attach to the carseat, and one behind the seat? How does that from seat to seat?
post #11 of 71

Boulevard, Safeguard, Companion... OH MY!!!

Originally Posted by uccomama
The new http://www.safeguardseat.com seat manufactured by IMMI also has these features and has been more forthcoming with their research results. They even have their crash test videos on their website: http://www.safeguardseat.com/child/index.htm
Ah, we are currently in the thick of the "Choosing A Car Seat" Dilemma since DD (38" tall & 34 lbs @ 34 months old) is very close to outgrowing her Britax Advantage (maxes out at 40 lbs) which has served us *very* well up to this point. She's been in this seat since birth! We've decided to move DD to a ff harnessed seat w/ a higher weight limit (we were choosing between the Britax Boulevard and the Safeguard seat), which means rf wee-babe(due this week!!!) will be on the driver or passenger side, so don't I want something with better side impact protection than our Advantage offers for the newborn? Or am I just being uber-pregnantly paranoid?

For DD, we finally chose Safeguard over Britax because we found a sale today ($50 bucks off the Safeguard seat for the next 2 days through Jan 5, 2005 -- promo code "12DAYS") AND because I'm hoping the Safeguard is more comfortable for her long legs (we're tall monkey-folk) than the Britax. Aggggh, it feels like there are so many things to take into account, esp. now that we will have a newborn AND a tall toddler!

Sorry, getting off track here... so is Britax really the best? All I can say is that DH and I are big fans of the nicer side impact protection, and Britax seems like one of the few makers that offers this. In fact, I am hesitant to pass down our Britax Advantage (last seat they made before Wizard came out w/ SIP) to our newborn because I'd rather have one of the Britax seats WITH side impact protection - like the Boulevard or the infant Companion.

Begging uccomama or dallaschildren or any other CPS tech mamas out there... HELP!

I know CPS techs can't recommend a specific seat, but is there any info/opinion/data on the safety of infant car seats vs convertible car seats for newborns/infants? When dd was born, she was long 21" and 8 lb 5 oz, and so I'm thinking babe #2 will likely be long and a minimum of 7 lbs but wouldn't be surprised to have a 9+ lb-er either... Do you think it's worth it, safety wise, to have an infant car seat (we're looking at Companion or Compass I-400 ) rather than starting immediately into a convertible seat (we're looking at Boulevard )?

Can you tell that this very, VERY pregnant mama's nesting urges are likely taking the form of obsessing over car seats? Should probably go off and start a new thread for that infant vs convertible seat question...
post #12 of 71
some seats are just better than others. The britax latch connectors are kind of like seat belts... they have a slot and they click, then a button that releases them. My dd1s booster on the other hand just has hard metal hook/clip things... the britax are MUCH easier.
post #13 of 71
I agree that once you use a britax, nothing less will do I think they are really well made and seem comfortable. Like a pp said all car seats have to pass the same safety tests but the biggest mistake is how they are installed. Britax makes it very easy to get a good tight fit in the car and a snug safe harness around your precious child. With three kids I've used over 10 different car seats and none compare with Britax. It is well worth the extra money IMO. Some of their seats have side impact protection and all but the companion and roundabout have high weight limits.

Originally Posted by shelbean91
How do LATCH connectors vary? Mine just have 2 clips that attach to the carseat, and one behind the seat? How does that from seat to seat?
In my experience, Britax latch system is really easy to use, my mom has a graco and evenflo in her car and the latch is not even comparable. The hooks are much harder to attach and you have to really adjust the strap to get it tight, also it's hard to unlatch them.. both are easier to install with the seatbelts.
post #14 of 71
I don't really understand, but I think I'll take a peek at a Britax next time I see one in person- I'm sure I'll get it then. All of the LATCH seats I've had have been almost identical as far as connecting into the car.
post #15 of 71
Originally Posted by shelbean91
I don't really understand, but I think I'll take a peek at a Britax next time I see one in person- I'm sure I'll get it then. All of the LATCH seats I've had have been almost identical as far as connecting into the car.
I found some pics....

for example my dds booster seat has the latch clips on the far right of this picture:

The britax latch clips look like this:
post #16 of 71
Oh, now I get it. Thanks for the picture. So, instead of fishing around for the hook in the seat, you just need to line it up. That is a nice feature.

Ours are like the ones in your first link. I don't find them terribly difficult (loosen it up first to get out, put my knee in the seat and pull to put them in), but dh has a VERY hard time getting them in and out.
post #17 of 71
I know they are better in regards to side-impact crashes. The side area around the childs head is made of the same thing that motorcycle helmets are made of. The other car seats we looked at did not have this.

I have heard that they are safer because they conform to European standards, which are more strict than ours. But I don't know if that's true.
post #18 of 71
Yes, the Britax seats are so much easier to use correctly EVERY TIME, which is key, that IMO they are worth it. We have used a number of seats between our cars and relatives' cars--Graco, Evenflo, Century, and Britax. It is possible to properly install and harness the child for maximum safety in any of them, but it's more difficult to do so particularly in the Graco seats we've used. "Twisting straps" sounds like such a minor thing--just untwist them, right? But picture yourself leaning into the car to buckle in your child...it's after dark on a cold night, you're shivering, freezing rain is falling on your butt sticking out of the car door, the stupid strap is all twisted up, you can't get it untwisted with your gloves on so you have to take off your gloves and now you're REALLY cold, and now your kid is screaming that he wants to DO IT HIMSELF and is trying to get the still-twisted strap out of your hands while bucking and writhing in the seat...you start to rationalize to yourself that it's not a very long trip back home and the strap is PROBABLY tight enough even if it's twisted a little

It is WORTH IT to get a car seat that can be rapidly, easily buckled up every time. The Britax we have is SO EASY to loosen or tighten the harness, so much easier than the other seats. So if DS is wearing a sweater in the morning, but takes it off later in the day, I can tighten up the harness appropriately every single time he gets in the car. It is so much harder in the other seats we've used to loosen/tighten the harness that, while I am vigilant about it, I know DH only does it sometimes, and the other relatives who transport my son and his cousins don't pay the least bit of attention to it, unfortunately.
post #19 of 71
I bought a Britax Marathon a few months ago and really like it. I started using the evenflow bucket when DS was a baby, then went to a Cosco Alpha Omega (which we returned because we didn't like it), then to a Triumph, then to a Marathon when DS outgrew the Triumph. I was put off by the price of the Britax to begin with, now $380 later I'm wishing I had just bought a Marathon w/ a newborn insert to begin with! Oh well, live and learn I guess.

The Britax Marathon has been the most "user friendly" car seat I've owned. The LATCH connectors are easier to use, the harness strap adjuster is very easy to use, and the recline is way easier to use than any other car seat I've owned. I also like that it is easy to tighten the LATCH straps, and I can do it on my own, with other car seats I would need help because I could never get it tight enough myself.

I'm a big fan of Britax now, I can't see myself ever buying another brand of carseat now.
post #20 of 71
It is my understanding that the research shows that there are other carseats which test equivalently in the "safety" rating, but fall behind in "ease of use"
This is why we purchased our Evenflo Triumph. It had the exact same safety rating but was slightly lower in Ease of use.
We have found the Triumphs to be incredibly easy to use after our previous carseats though , so much so that it is hard to imagine seats which are easier. (but I do believe that they exist I am sure)
This seat is rated from birth to 40 lbs and costs half as much as a britax.
Since it is a convertible seat we avoided the cost of infant seats altogether.
The only way I can see the price advantage of Britax is if I made the commitment to keep my child in a 5pt harness until 65 lbs.
I for one am not really convinced. My 3 1/2 year old still fits in the triumph just fine. I Imagine he will be older than 4 when he reaches 40 lbs and goes into a booster. I am satisfied with my child using a booster after 40 lbs, but that is just me. If I was not. One Britax from birth would have saved money I am sure.
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