When choosing a convertible car seat for my oldest son as he began to outgrow his infant seat, I did a lot of research. One car seat manufacturer received many excellent reviews from both national consumer and safety organizations as well as from actual consumers. I knew that I had to try a Britax car seat based on the reviews I’d read.
The cost of a Britax car seat was a little more than I had budgeted for a car seat but I found a Britax Roundabout convertible seat at a great price online and combined with a free shipping offer I couldn’t pass it up. I purchased this seat in 2002 and it has survived three children. (On a safety note, the Britax Roundabout car seat expires six years after the date of manufacturing and should not be used after that time.)
From a total vanity standpoint, the Britax Roundabout car seat has wonderful covers in bright, fun colors and designs that match car interiors and/or are just plain fun for a child to ride in. I chose the unisex design “Denim” which has now been discontinued but replaced by an even nicer “New Blues” denim-like cover.
As far as safety is concern, Britax car seats are top of the line. They are tested and retested and go above and beyond basic safety regulations. The Britax Roundabout car seat has a five point harness, with a secure chest clip that even my five year old cannot unbuckle. The Britax Roundabout that I own, being four years old has the “puzzle piece” buckle that has been problematic for grandparents and others who do not use the seat daily. The newer Britax Roundabout buckles buckle separately and are easy to use. Around the buckle is a belly pad that matches the seat cover and is put in place for comfort and easily removed. In my experience, the harness straps do not tangle or twist easily.
My favorite convenience feature of the Britax Roundabout is the adjustable harness. The adjustable harness allows for the loosening and tightening of the harness straps with a “push button, one-pull” feature. This makes the seat safer and easier to use as the child grows or wears heavier or lighter clothing. (See this article to check if your child’s clothing is too thick to be safe for wearing in a car seat: http://babyproducts.about.com/od/carseats/a/carseatcoat.htm)
Other comfort features of the Britax Roundabout include comfort foam under the seat and a two position recline. This allows for a comfy ride on long car trips. We frequently take a three and a half hour road trip to visit my in-laws and my children have never complained about being uncomfortable in their Britax seats.
The Britax Roundabout also comes with Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS foam) for the safety of the child. This foam is the type used in bike helmets and helps to cushion and protect the head in the event of an accident. Britax is always on the cutting edge of car seat safety.
My favorite safety feature of the Britax Roundabout is the seat’s rear facing weight limit. From five to thirty-three pounds a child can ride rear-facing in the Britax Roundabout. Because the heads of babies and children are disproportionate in weight to the rest of their body, a head on collision could cause severe damage to the neck or worse. This means that riding in a rear-facing position as long as possible is the safest bet for a child. Forward facing, the Britax Roundabout is safe for children up to 40 pounds.
Of course, even the safest car seat is not safe unless it is installed properly and the child is buckled in correctly. Many car seats on the market are difficult to properly install. I found the Britax Roundabout to be easy to install both rear-facing and forward facing. There are handy lock-offs that keep the seat belt secure in both the forward and rear facing positions. Of course, the seat has the required LATCH system. The cover has handy side compartments to store the LATCH system if it is not used.
Also, to help the fit of the rear-facing seat, the Britax Roundabout has a patented Versa-Tether that fits into a neat pocket on the back of the cover when not in use. The Versa-Tether provides added security and a great fit for the Britax Roundabout.
Though the Britax Roundabout took a little more money than I had planned to spend, I’m glad I purchased it. It has given me peace of mind knowing that my child is riding in one of the safest, most comfortable and attractive car seats on the market.