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  1. #1
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Britax Bodyguard

    <A HREF="http://www.britaxusa.com/products.cfm?action=ShowProduct&pro_id=55919304-ADD8-4E21-84D0D7E6C23B708C" TARGET="_TOP"
    ><IMG SRC="http://www.britaxusa.com/images/products/BG_Denimangled200.jpg" ALIGN="middle"></A>Britax Bodyguard

    <b>Introduction</b>

    The Bodyguard is the latest booster seat from Britax, and is the first Britax model with the unique, "Enhanced Side Impact Protection." This model is a belt-positioning booster, rated for children 40-100 pounds and 43-60 inches tall. It is not a combination model, and does not have an internal harness. Other unique features include lap belt lockoffs and built-in headphones (optional).

    As with all boosters, the Bodyguard MUST be used with both a lap AND shoulder belt. Children 12 and under should always be seated in the rear seat, even if there is no active airbag in the vehicle. This model must not be placed in the front seat when an active frontal passenger airbag is present. A photo gallery can be found here:

    http://www.pbase.com/carseat/britax_bodyguard

    and: http://pages.ivillage.com/momika/car...otos/id29.html

    <b>Features and Advantages</b>

    <i>Side Impact Protection</i>- After frontal impacts, side impacts are the most common and severe. Most child restraints provide good protection in frontal impacts when used properly. Unfortunately, side impact testing is not mandated and has not been a main design feature for most carseats and boosters in the USA. With very little vehicle structure between a child and a side impact, these crashes are very dangerous. Side impact testing is done in Europe, and the Bodyguard is based on the Britax Kid which is marketed in Germany. In some ways, it is modeled after the restraints used in auto racing and shares many of their features. This includes wide "wings" around the torso and head, using reinforced plastic for strength and EPS foam for safety. I did have the opportunity to see some crash test footage from Britax at a recent conference. Assuming it performs as well in real crashes as in the tests, I can honestly say that this is the booster I would want for my own kids when seated in an outboard position.

    <i>Open Loop Belt Guide</i>- Unlike many combination boosters, the Bodyguard has an "open" guide for the shoulder belt. The guides on some combination models can catch the shoulder belt which may cause excess slack. This will reduce the safety of the booster if the belt is loose during a crash. This should not be a problem with the Bodyuard, though I did find my shoulder belts had a tendency to twist in the guides sometimes. The shoulder belt should be adjusted such that it is across the center of the shoulder and center of the chest of your child, and not on the neck or tummy. A tab opens the guide and closes easily once you have routed the belt. The guide positions the shoulder belt correctly for comfort and safety.

    <i>Easy Height Adjustment</i>- A squeeze of a lever and a gentle pull is all that is needed to raise or lower the height to accomodate different children. This also adjusts the shoulder belt positioning. Note that a child is too tall for the seat when the tops of the ears are above the top of the fully raised headrest. The height is adjusted correctly when the shoulder belt guides are at the level of the child's shoulders, or just above. There are eleven height adjustment positions.

    <i>Lap Belt Lockoffs</i>- The arms of the Bodyguard flip up to provide a guide for the seatbelt. They lock down to keep the belt in place. According to Britax, this reduces the load on the child during a crash. After fitting the child to the Bodyguard initially, the lockoff farthest from the buckle may be left locked. Only the lockoff nearest the buckle must be released to allow the child in and out of the booster each trip. The shoulder belt should NOT be routed in the lockoff. The lockoffs should be used at all times for improved safety. The lockoffs do take more time to use than a conventional booster, especially when you are learning how to use them. They may also be too difficult for younger kids to secure themselves, especially with baggy clothing that can make the lockoffs hard to close. On the plus side, it's second nature within a short time and it should help keep your child as safe as possible. As a bonus, if you only release the one lockoff on the buckle side, the other lockoff and shoulder belt guide will help keep the booster in place when it is unoccupied, and during loading and unloading. When in use, the lockoffs keep the booster from tipping or sliding during turns, too!

    <i>Width Adjustment</i>- Like the Britax Starriser, this model has adjustable width on the base. This helps to fit the child better, and make the seat as narrow as possible if you need to fit more child seats or passengers next to it. Very handy. To use it, a knob on the bottom alows the base to slide wider or narrower. The armrests should be snug on the child's hips for best fit. Tighten the knob when finished. The base is just under 13.5" at the narrowest setting, though the lockoff tabs and side impact foam extend a bit wider. At the widest setting, the lockoffs become a bit more difficult to use as the torso protection wings prevent the lockoffs from lifting up as far.

    <i>Convenience</i>- The Bodyguard includes armrests and a storage compartment in the base (holds optional headphones and manual). Options include a storage pouch, fabric choices with mesh on the sides for visibility and built-in headphones to use with in-vehicle or portable audio/video systems. These headphones are high quality ear bud types, and the cord is routed from the top down to the base where there is a short extension to plug into a personal audio player. A longer extension may be needed for in-vehicle systems. The headphones are recommended only for kids 4 and over who are mature enough to use them safely. We did not find them all that useful for our son, who is 4 years old. They barely fit him, and he had some difficulty keeping them in his ears. They should be fine for older kids, who could store their player in the storage area and always have headphones ready to use without worrying about losing them.

    <i>Padding and Comfort</i>- The Bodyguard is reasonably padded and comfortable. My son said it was very comfy and liked riding in it. Mine had the "Cool Blues" denim fabric, which was soft and seems durable, too.

    <i>Adjustable Backrest Angle</i>- A flap in the back of the Bodyguard easily pulls out and slides down. This flap should be in full contact with the vehicle seat. When extended, the flap pushes the base of the booster away from the vehicle seat somewhat to increase the recline slightly.

    <i>Value</i>- The Bodyguard retails from $110-$140, depending on the retailer and options. While among the more expensive belt positioning boosters, you do get safety and convenience features found on no other booster.

    I recommend the Bodyguard, especially if your child is seated in an outside seating position that is closer to a possible side impact. This booster is easy to adjust, comfortable and has a number of great features. Perhaps most importantly, my 4.5 year old really liked it (though he usually likes anything I call a "Big Boy's Seat"!).

    The official recommendation is that children should be in a booster until they are 8 years old, unless they are already 4' 9" tall. This is only a rough guideline. Because both kids and vehicles differ, the best way to know if your child is ready to move out of a booster is by fit. Children are not ready to move from a booster to a regular lap/shoulder seatbelt until.
    1) They are tall enough so that their legs bend at the knees at the edge of the seat; and
    2) They are mature enough to remain seated with their backs flat against the back of the seat and not slouch; and
    3) The lap belt sits high on the thighs or low on the hips (NOT on their tummy!); and
    4) The shoulder belt crosses the shoulder and chest (NOT on their arms or neck!); and
    Each passenger must have their own lap AND shoulder belt and remain seated properly for the entire trip! Never allow children to share a seatbelt!

    <b>Disadvantages</b>

    <i>Fabric Care</i>- The cover is fastened with buttons, elastic loops and hooks. Removal and reattachment is not too difficult, but does take a little time. Britax recommends a pencil or blunt wooden rod to help release the cover from the hooks. Britax recommends to hand wash cold, with mild soap and line dry.

    <i>No cupholders</i>- I don't generally have a need for cupholders since anything the kids have will usually be spilled, cupholder or not. Plus, most vehicles seem to have about 20 cupholders already. Even so, some parents prefer boosters that have one or more cupholders built-in.

    <i>Cannot be used backless</i>- For safety, this could be considered an advantage, since the wings provide significant side impact protection and I don't think you would want to remove them anyway. Some parents do prefer models that convert to backless boosters like the Starriser or Roadster. While backless boosters are fine if your child is in the center position using a lap AND shoulder belt, I recommend a high back booster with deep wings when your child is seated in an outboard position. Your child also needs a high back booster if the top of their ears comes above the top of the vehicle seat or head restraint.

    <i>Price</i>- Though I think it is a great value for all the safety and convenience features, it is among the more expensive boosters.

    <i>No Harness System</i>- As with all belt-positioning boosters, the Bodyguard is not intended to be a "combination" model as it does not have an internal harness. It is rated for kids 40 pounds and up, and it's a great choice for those children who can ride properly in a booster with a lap and shoulder belt. Kids under 40 pounds should be in an appropriate child seat with a 5-point harness.

    <i>Not Certified for Airplane Use</i>- All boosters that do not have an internal harness are not certified for airplane use. The Bodyguard is no exception. Most children who are within the height and weight ranges for the Bodyguard usually do not require a carseat on an airplane. Also, it is not as portable for travel as are some other models like the Roadster.

    These disadvantages are all relatively minor, and most are either personal preference or apply to all belt-positioning boosters.

    <b>Conclusion</b>

    The Bodyguard is the latest belt positioning booster from Britax with some great safety innovations. If your child is above 40 pounds and mature enough to ride in a booster full-time, then the Bodyguard should be among the models you consider. The side impact protection alone makes it a top choice if you are using it in an outboard seating position. The other great features put it on par with competitive models, if not beyond.

    Details on the Britax Bodyguard can be found here:
    http://www.britaxusa.com/products.cf...D0D7E6C23B708C

    <b>For more information on carseat safety please visit:

    http://www.car-safety.org

    http://www.seatcheck.net</b>

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  3. #2
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    Where to buy?

    Very interested - who carries this booster?

  4. #3
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    The Bodyguard is now widely available at many retailers and online.
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  5. #4
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    Unhappy belt hassle

    My sister just got the Bodyguard for my 6 year old niece -- my niece loves the seat, but my sister is annoyed with the locking clips because she has automatic locking belts ... we were wondering if she can forgo the hassle of the locking clips under the armrests since she has automatic locking belts?

  6. #5
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    The built in lock-offs on the Bodyguard are necessary, because the seat itself is so heavy. It does not meet NHTSA requirements without them. When the seat is clipped to the seatbelt, that lessens the load on the child during a crash. Your sister does need to continue using them. She can call Britax to ask for clarification if she needs it. 1-888-4-BRITAX
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  7. #6
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info :)
    Even though the lockoffs can be a bit of a hassle with automatic locking belts, it's still worth the time & money! I got one for my stepdaughter, too, now & she likes it as well ... better than the backless she had before. The one I bought for her mom to use because her mom said she worried about her on their road trip to Florida, & then it sat outside for months before I finally asked for it back :X
    By now, though, she fits in the rear-center seat without a booster just fine [she's tall for her age] ... however there was a good 2-3 years time in which she needed to sit in something & didn't :(
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  8. #7
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Talking Happy Camper

    I bought this booster for my daughter's various kid relatives to use when they visit ... all the kids [5-9 years old] really like it! They say it's "fun, like a race driver!"
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  9. #8
    SuziQ
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    Britax Side Impact Protection

    Does anyone know when the Britax Bodyguard (booster) and Companion (infant) seats came on the market? I think it was some time in 2003 but I am looking for the month/year.
    Thanks

  10. #9
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about the Companion, but the Bodyguard was released very shortly after my review in June of 2003.

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