Many people who deal with parents and car seats hear a lot about Britax. It is recommended as the ‘safest’ seat out there by word of mouth among parents at the playground and in the daycare parking lot.
So what’s the big deal?
It goes like this. Once upon a time, most infant seats kept your baby rear facing until 20lbs.
When they outgrew that, they went forward facing. No matter how old they were. Then they sat in a forward facing seat until they were 40lbs.
Again, no matter how old they were. Then they sat in a booster for a couple of years and often were sitting in just the seatbelt by 6 or 7.
Except, then there was Britax. Britax had convertibles that rear faced longer! The shells were taller! You could use the harness longer! And the slots were taller! It would last your child to a safe age both rear facing and forward facing. Why wouldn’t you buy one if you could without bankrupting your family?
So child passenger safety experts got in the habit of recommending these seats. As an added bonus, they came in fun patterns. And they were super duper easy to install, with little neat things like built in seat belt lock offs and unique UAS clips.
However in the mid 2000’s, other companies started to catch up to the lead Britax had. At the time Britax rear faced to 30lbs. Many other companies met that goal, and a few exceeded it before Britax made it to 35lbs (The Cosco Scenera, the Sunshine Kids Radian, The First Year’s TrueFit). Britax harnessed to 65lbs, and then many other seats followed.
They were still very easy to install, they still came in cute patterns, but they weren’t really the only long lasting seats on the market anymore. Over the next few years, starting with Sunshine Kids, most of the other companies began to blow Britax out of the water. 40-45lbs rear facing. 18” top slots. And best of all, prices that were $50-$100-$150 less than what Britax was charging.
In 2010, Britax again tried to catch up with the pack. Their newly designed convertibles went to 40lbs rear facing, and 65lbs forward facing (CDN version). They are still very easy to install. They are still very comfortable for the child and they still come in fun patterns.
Other seats still exceed them in some areas, for example, Britax seats don’t have as much leg room as some others for a rear facing toddler and the slots aren’t as high as some others for a forward facing pre-schooler.
So while the word still goes around the playground, most up-to-date techs no longer recommend Britax over all other seats. This doesn’t mean that the seats are unsafe or ‘less’ than they used to be. It just means that with the advent of seats like the Graco MyRide, the Safety 1st Complete Air, and the Diono Radian, Britax has enough competition to no longer be impressive just because they are Britax.
Britax’s current line are very nice safe seats. They cost an average of $300. They have plush fabrics and are for the most part easy to use and have desirable features. However, they still will not prevent injury in a crash unless they are used correctly.
The other reason that some techs no longer recommend Britax is due to a phenomenon called ‘The Britax Bubble’. It goes like this.
“Oh, I know the harness should be tighter, but oh well. He’s in a Britax.”
“Yeah, I thought we should keep her rear facing, but it was such a pain, so we bought a Britax”
“Yes, I know that it was previously in a crash and is now expired, but I can’t afford a new one, and I KNOW he’s safer in a Britax”
See what I mean?
Comments like these and many many more show that some parents haven’t really thought through what their seat is capable of. No matter how much you paid for it, no car seat will jump up and save your child if you use it incorrectly. Britax seats often make it easy to use them correctly, and techs encourage parents everywhere to take advantage of those features.
In the end, if a Britax seat is in your budget and has the features that you’ve been looking for they are nice seats.
If a Britax does not easily fit your budget, or isn’t exactly what you need? Don’t feel guilty for looking elsewhere. All seats in Canada test to the exact same standard. It’s a pass or fail test, and if it’s on the shelves, it has passed. All those safety claims are just that, claims. We don’t actually know if side airbags, or extra foam or wings will help in a crash – those kind of features aren’t looked at when a seat passes the CMVSS 213.
What we are advocating here is this: Have a car seat, follow the instructions, install and use it correctly every time. Know your child is safe on every ride no matter how much you paid for your seat.