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 Shelly's Review of the

    Britax Chaperone

       Infant Carrier Car Seat with anti-rebound base  

 

  In this review: Overview    Travel-friendly Features    Travel Considerations   Other Considerations      Suggestions     Others You Might Consider    Where to Buy It
Britax Chaperone infant carrier car seat in Savannah

 

The Britax Chaperone infant carrier car seat shown in Savannah.

Find it online at:  

Amazon.com    Baby Earth  

Gray seatbelt lock-off plate at center of belt path on anti-rebound base.

The Chaperone's base with anti-rebound bar, one-hand turn angle adjustment and push-button LATCH clips in stored in its sides.

Easy one-hand adjustment lets you find the perfect fit even while your child sits strapped into the harness.

Installed on base with anti-rebound bar in a minivan.

Installed with seatbelt, without base.

"True Side Impact Protection" doubles as a comfy head rest.

Very generous canopy compared with other infant car seats.

A comfy fit at 29.9" and 20 lbs.

Level indicator is on the car seat, not the base you might leave at home.

Having owned and traveled with other Britax car seats in the past, I was very happy to be invited by Britax to review their newest infant car seat, the Chaperone, and give one away to a lucky reader (sorry, contest closed now!).

As you'd expect, the Chaperone infant carrier car seat offers superior safety protection features that are synonymous with the Britax brand, and like many competing models it offers higher upper weight and height limits to help parents make the most of the investment, in this case $229 retail.

What I couldn't help but notice right away was the incredibly solid base for the car seat that left no question whether the car seat clicked into it would be secure--as I've wondered at times using thinner plastic bases with other car seats. With the anti-rebound bar and easy twist level adjustment, the car seat snugged right into place easily.

As with all Britax seats, I also appreciate the seatbelt lock-offs that help any belted installation feel that much more secure--even when traveling in an unfamiliar car with older seatbelts (taxi!). However, in this case the lock-offs are on the base only, as is that great anti-rebound bar. Since travel with car seats encompasses road trips as well as air travel, I've reviewed the seat with both modes of transport in mind.

 The Britax Chaperone at a glance:

  • Rear-facing only, 4 to 30 lbs.
  • Up to 32" tall or 30 lbs.
  • FAA-certified for flying
  • Car seat can travel without base
  • Anti-rebound bar on base
  • Base Weighs 10 lbs.
  • Car seat alone weighs 10 lbs.
  • 18"W (at outset of carrying handle) x 17.8"H x 27"D without base
  • 18"W x 24"H x 29.75" D on base (including raised canopy)

Great everyday features I like:

  • Seatbelt lock-off plate for extra security and stability
  • Anti-rebound bar
  • Heavy-duty base (10 lbs.)
  • Carry handle can be left in any position during drive
  • Push-button LATCH clips
  • Recline knob on base just twists for adjustment while seat is in place
  • Extremely easy-to-use no re-thread harness and headrest with 7 height adjustments for a perfect fit.

Travel-friendly features:

Travels without the base - One of the great advantages of traveling with an infant carrier car seat over convertible / toddler car seats is the ease of having your baby pre-buckled into his car seat's 5-point harness as you board and deplane aircraft, and load and unload from cars, shuttles, and taxis (you can also do this with the convertible Sit N Stroll). I don't recommend infant carrier car seats that cannot be used without the base for travel, and where this base weighs in at a hefty 10 lbs. (same as the seat itself), I think most anyone would prefer air travel without it.

Generous canopy - I noticed right away that the Chaperone's canopy extended more than those on most competing infant car seats. It offers good coverage for rainy waits at the taxi queue as well as sun protection in the car during road trips. Better still, it will help keep airplane reading lights and turbulent air vents from disturbing baby's slumber in flight.

Level indicator on seat, not base - Since most parents will take the seat on trips by airplane without its base, and will be installing the car seat quickly in some other vehicle with differently shaped seats, it's nice that the level is on the seat itself for easy reference when you might need it most. (Let's face it, you probably won't have much use for the level at home after you've installed the base properly in your own car.)

True Side Impact Protection - Not only does the extra shielding provided by this layer (the off-white supports around the head) offer excellent protection for the head, neck, and spine, but it also helps cradle the baby's head and minimize nap-squelching rocking and "bobble head" on windy mountain roads without the need of extra add-on products.

Durable wipe-clean fabrics - With the exception of the soft, fuzzy fabric used in the protective head rest, I was impressed by the choice of fabrics used in the seat cover and canopy (Savannah in this case). The seat itself seems sleek, but not slippery, and like any variety of spills or leaks will wipe off easily with a damp cloth, which can be critical when you're 3,000 miles away from your washing machine.

Cushy ride for long trips and higher weight - As with all Britax car seats, you can expect cushier padding in the Chaperone than you'll find in most other car seats of its class, including a layer of high-density foam. This often overlooked detail can make a tremendous difference for little people expected to sit for hours on the road or in the air, especially as they grow heavier and can appreciate more more cush beneath the tush.

Travel considerations:

Rear-facing fit - When traveling with any rear-facing car seat, the rear-facing fit can sometimes pose problems in smaller economy and compact rental cars--especially overseas where the vehicles may be even smaller than North American models. Any of the infant carriers rated up to 32" in length like this may pose more of a "fit problem" than other infant carriers like the Graco SnugRide that is rated up to 29" in length. Depending on the nature of your family's travels, and certainly the car you drive at home, this may be an important consideration when choosing an infant carrier. The photos above show installation in a minivan. Given the design of the base with anti-rebound bar, a little space is saved when installing the Chaperone without its base.

Much magic is in the base (only) - The anti-rebound bar, seatbelt lock-off plate, and push-button LATCH attachments are all in the base for this car seat, which means that when you're traveling without the base, you're traveling without many features that most consider to make the Chaperone a more valuable and safer car seat. The large canopy, side impact head rest, level indicator, and extra cushion still travel with you, however.   

Other considerations:

Strap needed for use with other strollers - The Chaperone car seat can be used with the Baby Trend Snap N Go stroller frame when used with the strap provided by Baby Trend. No strap is needed for use with the matching Chaperone Stroller. Although it's labeled as being "compatible with major stroller brands," you will need to use the strap provided with the car seat to use the Chaperone with the Graco Quattro Tour, Peg Perego Pliko P3, and the Chicco Cortina. The Chaperone also works with the Maclaren Techno XLR when used with the Maclaren car seat adapter frame and strap. Note that the Chicco Key Fit 30 and some other larger infant carrier car seats also face the same stroller compatibility issues.

Bottom line and my suggestions for the "Travels with Baby" edition (or future enhancements):

There is no question that the Chaperone is a good quality infant carrier car seat, and its extra comfort and safety features make it a very desirable road trip companion. I think its ease of installation, and for babies of such a range in sizes, also make it a great candidate for baby gear rental agencies and car rental agencies who provide car seats to travelers--though the rear-facing fit caveat remains (more reason to upgrade your rental car?!).

As far as air travel and extended travel are concerned, I would request these upgrades from Britax for a "Travels with Baby" edition of the Britax infant carrier car seat (in case someone's listening):

  • Add Britax's signature seatbelt lock-offs to the car seat itself, especially since LATCH is not an option when traveling without the base and you can never be sure what kind of seatbelts or latch plates you'll encounter while traveling.
  • Move the anti-rebound bar to the car seat itself so that the benefit travels with the car seat in every installation (as it does with the Combi Shuttle).
  • If the anti-rebound bar is not added to the seat itself (which I realize would add weight the seat), I would like to see a Britax-patented Versa-tether strap included with storage pocket on the car seat.

Find it online at:  

Amazon.com   Baby Earth 

Britax Chaperone infant carrier car seat in Savannah

Others to consider:

COMBI SHUTTLE 33: If you like the idea of the anti-rebound bar (as I think most of us do), but you'd prefer to have it travel with you when the car seat base stays home, you might prefer the Combi Shuttle 33 (original Shuttle is being discontinued). It also features push-button LATCH clips and an easily adjusted harness. On the downside, the seat has a much smaller canopy, as you can see, and lacks some of the extra padding and safety features. Being a narrower seat may have its advantages at times during travel, but it may also not accommodate a full 30 lbs. with such grace as the Britax Chaperone (worth considering if your child might max out weight before height for these seats). Read more about the Combi Shuttle 33 in Infant Carrier Car Seats for travel.

ROUNDABOUT: Although it is not an infant carrier, the the 25"H Britax Roundabout, does include seatbelt lock-offs, a tether strap, push-button LATCH attachments, plus a two-position adjustable recline your child can still enjoy when forward-facing later on (not available in most toddler car seats). As he rides rear-facing into toddlerhood, it is also easier to decrease the recline from 45 degrees to around 30 degrees than it would be with an infant carrier. The Roundabout may also be used rear-facing up to 33 lbs, and then continues to serve forward-facing up to 40" tall or 40 lbs. Plus, the Roundabout has a simple push-button harness adjustment system that is easily accessed even when the seat is rear-facing. At 17"W, it also has a narrower footprint than the Chaperone, which makes it a favorite for many air travelers and families with dueling car seats. Read more about the Roundabout in Convertible Car Seats, and see how to get it around with ease in Car Seat Travel Bags & Carriers.

SIT 'N' STROLL: If you're looking for a good option for travel both rear-facing now  and forward-facing down the road, you might consider the Sit 'n' Stroll car seat and stroller in one. At 21"H, it's an easier fit rear-facing, though you may need to add your own Sit Rite leveler or rolled blanket for enough recline with a young infant (there is no recline adjustment). It is also 18"W and installs very easily with seatbelts routing around the seat as they do infant carriers without their bases. It also gives you the convenience of wheels when needed--plus a shade canopy that now comes standard and gives it that additional advantage over other toddler car seats when your child grows. If you're interested, be sure to read the Travels with Baby feature review of the Sit 'n' Stroll.

 

See also:

Infant Carrier Car Seats    Car Seat Alternatives    Car Seat Accessories  

 

Car Seat Travel Bags & Carriers    FAQs & Popular Topics

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Car seat provided by Britax USA.

 

 

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