We bought the Britax Roundabout when our son was 5 months old. Two weeks later we bought a second one to use in our other car...that's how pleased we are with it. It is a bit pricey ($220.00) but well worth the money, and besides, how can I put a price on my child's safety?
It is now more than 3 years later and I thought it time to write a whole new review on our Britax Roundabouts, now that we have been using them for such a long time.
When we first bought the Roundabout, we found it was a little bit difficult to install properly, but once we figured it out - we can now easily install and remove it without problems in under five minutes. Looking at the tether straps and clips and locking mechanisms is a bit intimidating when you first purchase the seat, and the instruction manual is a bit overwhelming. But, one call to their toll free number and you're on your way. You can also visit their website at www.britax.co.uk/main1.htm for installation assistance.
Several times a year we take our cars to the carseat safety checks just to have the carseats checked, make sure they are still installed properly and tightly, and simply for peace of mind. The car seat techs in our area consider the Roundabout one of the easiest seats to install, and one of the safest seats on the market. One of the reasons they so love the Roundabout is that it is easier to install and use correctly than many other seats on the market. In other words, it's harder to screw up when installing the Roundabout than with other brand seats, thus keeping more children safe.
It has a tether strap that attaches to the car, as well as being secured with the seatbelts. The Britax Roundabout was one of the first carseats available in the US with the tether feature. This prevents it from tipping forward in a head-on collision. When this seat is installed properly, it doesn't budge an inch. Both of our cars have places to hook the tether clip, but in our older Suburban (a 1998), when the tether hook didn't fit right...we called Britax and they sent us a "D-ring" connector to use. That worked like a charm (the D-ring has also been very useful in installing the carseat on airplanes). In our newer Suburban (a 2001), it was challenging to install at first (Chevy's fault, not Britax's), but one visit to the local police station and they showed us how to do it. The problem was that the Suburban has such cushy seats, I, being all of 104 lbs., was unable to put enough weight into the seat to tighten it securely in such a cushy seat. All it took was one big, burly police officer to snug that baby in there.
The Britax Roundabout can be used rear-facing for babies 5-30 pounds (and 19 to 30 inches in height)and forward facing for babies/toddlers 20-40 pounds (and 27 to 40 inches in height). It has three (yes, THREE!) different heights at which to thread the shoulder straps to fit babies/toddlers of all heights.
There are four locking clips on the seat itself where-as other brand carseats require the car to supply the locking clips. There are two on each side, lower ones for rear facing use and higher ones for front facing use.
The Britax Roundabout carseat has many features that make it superior to other carseats and well worth the money. It has a foam core, covered with foam rubber and then the cotton fabric cover. This all helps to absorb the shock in the case of an impact collision, protecting my precious child's head from the shock.
It has a fabulous recline feature for those babies that prefer a more laid back ride. My only gripe with this feature is that you cannot/should not recline the seat once installed for risk of loosening the installation. So, you can't just recline and un-recline it on a whim.
It has a 5-point harness with a puzzle-like connecter so that you cannot accidentally plug in only half of the latch (like you can accidentally do on many of the Century carseats). The chest clip is actually a clip, not just a slide-in/slide-out piece (like so many other brand carseats), so it really holds securely. The straps have little velcro pieces on the sides that attach to the sides of the chair when not in use, preventing the straps from tangling...a bonus in my eyes! There is a little round, cushioned fabric guard that protects baby's skin from the metal of the buckle so that if the buckle gets hot in the sun, baby doesn't get burned.
There is a pull strap located between the child's feet to easily tighten the straps once the child is situated and buckled and a button to loosen the straps. This makes buckle-up time easy as I can loosen the straps to give myself lots of slack so I don't have to struggle with my feisty toddler and then tighten him up once he's situated and trapped, I mean, buckled.
My only major complaint is that the fabric fades very quickly in sunny climates. But, from what I have heard, the Britax company is very good about replacing the fabric at no charge if it fades. The fabric is available in a myriad of colors and patterns to suit everyone's tastes (everything from solid denim to velour cow or leopard print and everything in between).
Now that we have owned and used our Britax Roundabout carseats for more than three years, we started noticing Danny was occasionally able to open the buckle himself. Whether it is because he has gotten stronger or because the buckle has weakened, I do not know. I went to their website: http://www.childseat.com/ and found that they are offering a cover for the buckle...FREE OF CHARGE!! Simply scroll down to "What's New," click that button and scroll to the bottom of the next page. All you need to do is provide the serial number of your carseat and pay $1.95 shipping fee. I love that they are always making sure that our children are safe! Way to go, Britax!
Through their website, you can also buy replacement buckles, crotch protector pads, foam, locking clips, instruction manuals, straps, you name it. But, we have owned our seats for over 3 years now and the only part we ever needed to replace was the fabric cover. That was because Danny had pizza for dinner, then vomited it all up on the way home. Pizza sauce mixed with bile stains horribly and the smell was not one we could get out. Rather than launder it a dozen times, we chose to replace the fabric (besides, I saw it as a chance to get the adorable "Cow-moo-flauge" fabric that hadn't been available back when we first bought the seat). Replacing the fabric was easy - remove the old, put on the new.
SOME ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: There was a recall in 2000: "According to a press release issued by the company, Britax Child Safety Inc. is conducting a voluntary recall of certain Roundabout child restraints manufactured between January 13, 1999 and March 14, 1999 because the seats may not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 compliance for head excursion." You can contact Britax Child Safety at 1-800-683-2045 for more information.
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Amount Paid (US$): 220
Age Range of Child: Other