Last updated on November 21st, 2009 at 10:57 pm
We were given the unique opportunity to product test Britax’s new Chaperone Travel System. After spending a few months with it, we are happy to report many positive things about its performance and think it’s an excellent choice of travel systems on the market right now. I’ll start with the infant carriers features. The Chaperone Infant Carrier features Britax’s True Side Impact Protection system which we’re written about before. This system protects your baby by distributing crash forces and shielding your child from vehicle intrusion. It also has No Re-Thread Head Restraint system which I can’t tell you how much easier it is to get the right fit without having to thread straps all over the seat (which is what my biggest complaint about my old Peg Perego).
What’s also nice about this carrier is that it accommodates your baby up to 30 lbs so you can use it and all its safety features longer as well as keep them secure and rear facing longer. Because of this the seat is a bit larger than some infant carriers. Compared to my old infant carrier this seat is considerably “taller” and therefore takes up a bit more space. This was only problematic for me having him seated behind the driver. I don’t drive a minivan and I had to move my seat up and ended up being too close to the wheel to drive. However, I would imagine this would be the same problem with any rear facing larger car seat.
The Infant Carrier is designed for baby’s comfort in mind and I do feel that my son (who is now 4 months old) fits in there snug and comfortable. One of the things I really love is the oversized canopy. It never fails that the only stream of sun lands on his face while I’m carting my other son back and forth to school so the large canopy is a huge help. Britax designed the handle to be a little more ergonomic so carting them around is easier. Although I don’t think I’ve ever come across an infant carrier that is “easy” to carry. They all weigh a ton and with a big baby in it, its back breaking no matter how you slice it. This seat is bigger than my old one but weighs about the same. Infant carriers are just heavy, period.
Let’s talk about the Britax Chaperone Stroller too. I have to admit I fell in love with this stroller pretty quick. It has a ton of features my other stroller lacks and a few minor issues I’d love to see worked out. But if given a choice I really to like the performance and solid nature of this stroller. Compared to other’s I’ve used the “glide” factor on this surpasses many traditional strollers. It has larger wheels with “all wheel drive” so there isn’t any of that silly wheel wiggly turning backwards situations. It rolls like a dream! it has an adjustable handle height to fit any parent and has a nifty comfort grip handle bar so pushing it with both hands OR one hand is super easy. My old Peg Perego has split handles and pushing it with one hand is not an option. It also has two cup holders and a little storage bin up at the handle for the parent (love!) and a cup holder and tray for baby too. One of my peeves is strollers with a weak basket underneath, or a basket that’s inaccessible. I tend to chuck stuff under there in a hurry. The Chaperone stroller has a big basket thats easily accessible. My old gripe would be the tension on it… if I throw my big diaper bag in there it collapses down requiring me to get down under there and really shove it in. But, its great for shopping and fits quite a bit.
It features enough canopy to cover your child from sun and combined with the infant carrier, you can cover baby entirely while they nap or to keep the sun/rain off them. This is really just a beautiful piece of baby gear.
I had the unique opportunity to ask some car seat safety questions of Britax’s safety expert, Dr. Laura Jana. Laura Jana, M.D., is a pediatrician, safety advocate and mother of three. She is also a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention and the co-author of “Heading Home with Your Newborn; From Birth to Reality.” As a certified child passenger safety technician, Dr. Jana has worked to help parents learn to use child seats consistently and properly. Recently, she has focused her attention on raising awareness of the danger of side impact crashes.
Q & A with Dr. Laura Jana
What are the key things parents should look for when shopping for a car seat when it comes to safety?
There are a few key safety features that parents should look for when choosing a car seat. Twenty-five percent of all crashes are from the side, and these crashes result in a significantly higher fatality rate than front or rear crashes, so I recommend investing in a seat with side impact protection. Look for features such as deep side and head wings that are made out of energy-absorbent material and an adjustable head support to minimize lateral head movement in a crash. If you’re unfamiliar with side impact protection, you can find very useful information on the Web site of car seat manufacturers such as Britax Child Safety in their dedicated Safety Center at www.britaxusa.com. Other key safety features include an energy-absorbing tether and base. And parents should really view ease-of-use features as safety features, because anything that helps you use the seat correctly and consistently will help you keep your child safe.
What are the most common mistakes parents make when it comes to installing/using car seats?
One of the most common mistakes parents make is not properly tightening the harness. In fact, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 59 percent of harness straps were dangerously loose. Another critical mistake parents make is turning their kids face forward too soon. Children should stay rear-facing as long as they are within the rear-facing height and weight limits of the seat. In terms of installation, many parents forget to lock the seatbelt in place or don’t use the tether on the car seat.
What things can parents do to ensure their seat is installed and being used properly?
It is estimated that at least 80 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly, so it’s critical that you read the car seat manual and your vehicle manual if you install your car seat yourself. Car seat manufacturer’s Web sites also often have demos to help you with installation. Then get your seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Web site lists child safety seat inspection stations by ZIP code.
To address loose harness straps, parents should be able to fit only one or two fingers between the strap and the child. As an added help, some seats offer an audible indicator when the straps are appropriately tight.
As your child grows, when is it best to adjust shoulder strap heights/fit? Is there a good rule of thumb?
It is always best to make sure that the shoulder straps are adjusted as your child grows to keep your child most securely restrained in the seat. For rear-facing infants, this has traditionally meant having the shoulder straps set at or belowshoulder level—which means moving the shoulder straps up to the next higher slot only when an infant’s shoulders reach the next slot level. In contrast, forward facing children’s shoulder straps need to be set at or above shoulder level—requiring that the harness straps be moved up to the next highest level as soon as a child’s shoulders are above the lower level slot. While these “at or above/below” recommendations take into account the fact that many seats only have a limited number of harness slots on the back of the seat, there are now child safety seats on the market that allow for much easier and more custom-fit adjustability of the harness straps so that they can always be positioned right at shoulder level.
How has the side impact protection been advanced in the new Advocate CS?
The main advancement is that the Britax Advocate CS has energy-managing side impact cushions. These cushions not only offer added protection for the child in the seat, but for the first time also provide a soft surface for any adjacent passenger in the event of a side impact crash. During a side impact crash, the cushions compress to absorb the incoming crash forces and safely expel the air through strategically placed vents. Britax testing found that the cushions reduce crash energy in half in a side impact crash by diverting crash forces away from the child. This works to significantly minimize injury.
Thanks Dr. Jana!
Find Britax: The Britax Chaperone Infant Carrier and Stroller System is available on Amazon, and other retailers online and in your area. Also, if you visit BritaxUSA.com you can get a $100 rebate on your purchase of a travel system!
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