Britax is known for its safe, easy-to-use convertible car seats, and reviewers say the company's Britax B-SAFE infant car seat lives up to that reputation. Excellent crash-test ratings, easy installation and a generous sun canopy are among the seat's perks, they say. However, some complain the straps twist easily and the fabric doesn't breathe well. Others dislike the spot-clean-only seat cover.
Excellent crash-test ratings, but fewer bells and whistles than its sister seat. The Britax B-SAFE features side-impact protection, energy-absorbing foam, a five-point harness with a chest clip and push-button LATCH connectors. The seat gets the highest possible marks in independent crash testing, and the handle can safely remain upright during drives. Experts note that the B-SAFE lacks a couple of safety extras included on its pricier sister seat, the Chaperone, including an anti-rebound bar and deeper side-impact protection wings.
Easy to install, but has twisty straps. The Britax B-SAFE receives generally high marks for easy installation, if not raves. It has easy-to-use push-button LATCH connectors, and parents must install the seat so that a line is level with the ground. Experts note that seat-belt lock-offs feel a bit flimsy and can be difficult to close during installations without LATCH. Despite that, they say it's a good pick for travel and taxis because it installs easily without the base. Parents must rethread the straps from the back to adjust them for height, and some reviewers complain that the straps twist too easily when they try to secure their children. The B-SAFE's ergonomic handle is meant to make carrying the seat more comfortable. The seat fabric is spot-clean only, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the seat 4 out of 5 stars for ease of use, mostly criticizing incomplete labeling.
Good for small babies. The Britax B-SAFE accommodates children from 4 to 30 pounds and up to 32 inches tall, but Britax says to discontinue use regardless of height if a child's head is less than an inch from the top of the shell. The seat's included infant insert and ability to accommodate babies as light as 4 pounds make the B-SAFE a good pick for even the smallest babies, reviewers say. Most owners say the padding is adequate, but several complain it doesn't breathe well and causes their babies to sweat on hot days. At 9.6 pounds, the seat is comparable or slightly heavier than similar seats, but some reviewers say it's a bear to carry and too much of a space hog in small cars. The sun canopy is easy to adjust and large enough to keep babies covered, parents say.
Few service complaints. Britax receives solid customer-service reviews across the web. The Britax website offers comprehensive installation instructions for all models, including the B-SAFE, but you must know the date of manufacture to access the information. All Britax car seats have a one-year limited warranty. The company must authorize all returns. Like most infant car seats, the seat expires and should not be used after six years. Britax recommends seats be replaced after a "moderate to severe crash" and lists specific criteria on its website.
1. Baby Bargains
"Baby Bargains" covers all major infant car seats in depth. Authors Denise and Alan Fields consider performance, ease of use and the brand's track record to come up with their overall rating for each seat. Reviews are comparative, thorough and unbiased.
Review: Car Seats: Picking the Right Child Safety Seat, Denise and Alan Fields, 2013, 10th edition
This website, run by professional child passenger safety technicians and instructors, names the Britax B-SAFE to its recommended seat list. It's praised for fitting small babies and an easy install. The only downside is having to rethread the harness, editors say.
Review: CarSeatBlog's Recommended Car Seats List, Editors of CarSeatBlog.com, September 2013
Editors of ConsumerReports.org test 29 infant car seats on safety, ease of use and fit to vehicle. The ratings are reliable and unbiased, and they include editors' "highs" and "lows" for each seat -- helpful for parents who want a quick summary of each seat.
Review: Infant Car Seat Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Britax B-SAFE earns an overall ease-of-use score of 4 stars out of 5. Editors say the seat's labels are severely lacking and note the lack of a no-rethread harness, but they find the seat otherwise fairly easy to use.
Review: Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, Editors of NHTSA, Not dated
The Britax B-SAFE receives 4.3 out of 5 stars in more than 120 reviews. Reviewers say it is a solid, safe choice. Some say the fabric isn't breathable, the straps twist and the seat can be hard to remove from the base. Others say it's heavy and too big in small cars.
Review: Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013
The Britax B-SAFE is ranked third to the Graco SnugRide 35 and Chicco KeyFit 30, with editors praising its safety features and customer service. They dislike the lack of a cold-weather boot and machine-washable cover.
Review: Britax B-Safe, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not dated
The Britax B-SAFE is praised for its ergonomic handle, large sun canopy and stroller compatibility. The short review is light on details and notes no cons.
Review: Top 10 Car Seats, Sarah Yang, Not dated