Review of the Britax B-Safe as compared to the Chicco KeyFit 30

calihannah

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I wrote a review of the new Britax B-Safe comparing it to the Chicco KeyFit 30 on Amazon and thought it might be of use to people on the truly amazing c-s.org too! Permalink: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/review/R3RX9PRSG7GKQ1/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm"]Amazon.com: "Bay Area Mommy Mentor"'s review of Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat, Red[/ame]

This is a review of the Britax B-Safe infant car seat. I am a mom with two small children and have owned and/or tested over 30 car seats in the past 5 years. Overall, the Britax B-Safe is a wonderful infant seat that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to friends and family. It is very similar in features and price to the Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat, so I'll give a basic comparison to help parents decide between the two.

First of all, if you want to use a Britax stroller, such as the Britax B-Agile Stroller or the Britax B-Scene Stroller, choosing the B-Safe car seat totally makes sense. The click-n-go adapters that come with the car seat (already attached) and the receivers on the strollers (easy to attach, takes under 30 seconds) make it seamless to convert those Britax strollers into fantastic travel systems. If you want to use a non-Britax stroller, check with that stroller's manufacturer to see if they make a car seat adaptor that's compatible with Britax infant seats. It does take practice to line up the connectors when you're dropping in the car seat, but it does get easier with time.

Moving beyond travel system usage, let's take a look at the car seats themselves.

Fit: The Britax B-Safe and the Chicco KeyFit 30 both have a 30lb weight limit. The B-Safe has a stated height limit of 32", vs the KeyFit's 30" limit. In reality, both seats are outgrown when your child's head is 1" from the top of the shell, and in reality, the Britax shell is no taller than the Chicco. So don't let that stated limit trick you into preferring the B-Safe.

Both the B-Safe and the KeyFit 30 fit tiny babies really well, thanks to the infant padding provided by each manufacturer. Both of these seats fit small babies FAR better than the Graco Snugride 35 Infant Car Seat. The B-Safe's head and body pad is removable for older babies at the discretion of the parent, whereas the infant body padding in the KeyFit must be removed after baby weighs 11lbs, though the head pad removal is at the parent's discretion in that seat. Both seats also fit older infants well, with plenty of harness positions (a major downfall of the Graco Snugride 22 Infant Car Seat, which only has two harness heights). I give a slight edge to the Britax because it has two crotch strap positions. I'd recommend that parents buy an infant seat with a 30 or 35lb weight limit rather than the 22lb limit any day -- avoid the SnugRide 22!

The Britax B-Safe has one drawback on the "fit" side of things: the straps can be somewhat "twisty", e.g. they can get twisted in the buckles and can be a pain to untangle. This is because the straps are the thinner, more slippery webbing. The Chicco straps are slightly thicker and do not twist easily in the buckles, which is a big win in my book (my husband twists the straps in the B-Safe buckles every time he takes our daughter out of the car...it's a talent, really!).

Note: After outgrowing either of these seats, you'll want to move your child into a rear-facing convertible car seat and keep them rear-facing to the limits of that seat, NOT into a forward facing seat. Check the AAP recommendations on this -- they recommend keeping your child rear-facing to age 2 or the limits of your car seat, which is usually 35-40lbs and way past age two. Your child is 500% safer rear-facing!

Installation: Both seats come with one base, which you install in the car and leave there even when removing the infant car seat. Both bases have an adjustable "boot" that helps you to achieve the appropriate angle of recline, and both have a level indicator on the base. The Chicco base wins for ease of installation, with its pull-strap mechanism for LATCH and easy seat belt lockoffs. The Britax base is easy enough to use, but the tightening mechanism isn't as smooth, and the belt lockoff requires a TON of force to open and close, making the parent feel like they're going to break it! For installing without a base, the Chicco KeyFit also wins, since the seatbelt guides are exposed already, whereas with the Britax seatbelt guides are under the cover, so you have to futz with elastic bands on the cover every single time you want to access them.

Fabric: Britax gets the edge in fabric, with a slightly easier to wipe clean seat cover. I highly recommend the black for hiding dirt. The KeyFit 30 has light colors in the head and feet area, both of which show sweat and grime marks readily. Both the Britax seat and the Chicco seat are warm -- there's not a lot to be done about this. If you have a sweaty baby, they're going to sweat in any infant seat.

Canopy: Britax wins hands-down in the canopy, with a generous canopy that stays where you put it. I know that would seem like such a simple thing, but the KeyFit canopy really does not always stay fully extended, and it's not as long as the B-Safe canopy, which is really nice when you want to shade your baby! Added benefit: the B-Safe canopy is so long that if you have two kids sitting next to each other in car seats, the B-Safe canopy can actually prevent them from seeing each other if it's fully extended, which can be great if you want to encourage car naps.

Customer Service and Manual: both Britax and Chicco have well-written manuals. Britax customer service gets a slight edge, with very knowledgeable techs answering the phones.

So overall, I give the new Britax B-Safe a 4-star rating, to account for its few quirks and twisty straps, and strongly recommend it. The deciding factor for me would really be stroller compatibility and nothing more.
 

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