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Choosing a Booster Seat for the Car

28 Mar

Like many parents, we did a lot of research before we purchased a booster seat. We narrowed our choices down to the Britax Frontier 85, and the Clek Oobr largely based on safety ratings and the fact that we wanted a booster with a back and headrest. We realized that this would be significantly more costly, but given the fact that Jenna will probably be in one for the next 3-5 years (depending on her growth) we felt like the seat would be “safety insurance,” and the assurance of safety is key and basically priceless.

We decided to go look at both models and have Jenna sit in them to make our final decision, only to learn that (where we live) neither model is available in stores. Both were listed as “online purchase only” everywhere we looked. So, we decided to order both from Amazon and return the one that didn’t work. We ended up choosing the Britax (pictured above), but I always love hearing pros and cons from people who’ve actually compared products, so I thought I’d share our thoughts & observations.

* Even if you have no interest in either of these seats, please take a moment to review the safety ratings for all booster seats here and the basic information for fitting a booster seat (if you haven’t already)!*

Pros For Both:

  • Excellent safety rating
  • Very easy to install via the LATCH system
  • Easy to adjust headrest
  • Easy to thread seat belt guides (the Britax uses the car’s belt when shoulder height excedes 20″)
  • Rated for use to 100 lbs (Clek) & 120 lbs (Britax)
  • Arm Rests
  • Cup Holder (2 built in for Britax – 1 clipped on for Clek)
  • Excellent padding on sides of headrest for side impact protection


Pros Specific to Clek (pictured directly above):

  • Super-clear instruction manual. Very easy to read with great illustrations. Well done, Clek!
  • Easy to remove fabric covers
  • Contemporary look (according to Jenna: it looks grownup instead of like a “baby” carseat)
  • Option to recline seat (easily) for more comfortable sleeping/riding
  • Storage compartment for instructions built-in *under the seat* BRILLIANT, Clek!
  • More fun/funky fabrics to choose from, including this & this from Paul Frank
  • Some might consider it a “pro” that the back can be removed to create a standard booster (we didn’t because no side impact protection for the head)

Clek Cons:

  • Not as much seat padding as the Britax Frontier (or maybe just firmer? It didn’t feel as cushioned)
  • Clip-on cup holder
  • No 5-point harness
  • Within 2 minutes of sitting in the car with the seat belt fastened, Jenna slid her arm our of the shoulder strap. Without a doubt, this would be a common occurrence & an ongoing battle w/her. No shoulder belt = SERIOUSLY decreased safety (obviously)

Granted, the shoulder belt escape move is somewhat of a “discipline” issue, but it won’t be accomplished overnight, and as easy as it was for her to slide out of it, I have to wonder if it would sometimes happen accidentally. (Jenna’s  44″ and 43 lbs, for the record) Regardless of whether the action would be purposeful or accidental, it’s one more thing to worry about, and when it’s just one of us driving in the car with her, it would be difficult to constantly monitor.

The 5-pt harness on the Britax Frontier was the main selling point for us. For a comparable price, it seemed like a fairly large safety difference. Even though it means a little more time for fastening, we feel like it’s worth it for the safety factor. Not only does the 5-pt harness keep her secure and avoid the shoulder-escape-maneuver, it also prevents “submarining,” which is common in safety tests with standard boosters (when the child slides out of the shoulder belt and under the lap harness).

Jenna declared that SHE liked the Britax better because the 5-pt harness felt more comfortable (she said the shoulder belt felt tight and rubbed her “funny” with the Clek), it was more “cushy,” and it had two cup holders (versus only one on the Clek). She apparently has plans to hold snacks or toys in the second holder. 🙂

The Britax featured all of the same “pros” as the Clek, with the exceptions of:

  • A more complicated instruction manual, even though installation and adjustments are just as simple
  • More complicated removal of covers for washing (although I’ve done it w/a Britax carseat & it’s doable)
  • No option to recline the seat
  • The arm rests don’t seem as long (might be a “pro” when getting in & out, though)

One of the features that drew us to the Clek was the recline feature because we frequently have LONG car trips to grandparents’ and medical specialists. We thought reclining might make it easier and more comfortable for Jenna to sleep. However, the recline feature was simply not enough to win out over the outstanding safety of the 5-pt harness system of the Britax. I also have some questions about whether the safety of the Clek is compromised in any way when placed in the recline position, but I didn’t find any data on this.

Both look to be excellent, well designed/constructed seats with many positive features and excellent safety ratings. In a nutshell, the 5-point harness and excellent safety rating of the Britax wins out for us.

Disclaimer: This is not an ad! I received no compensation for this review, although I gladly will if someone would like to offer it.

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2 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Jenna, Product Reviews, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Choosing a Booster Seat for the Car

  1. phd in yogurtry

    April 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

    You have so done your homework. Lucky little girl with a mamma who keeps her so snug and safe.

     
  2. PsychMamma

    April 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    phd in yogurtry –

    I try my best! 😉

    I’m sure when she’s 13 she won’t feel lucky I’m her mom. Hehe. So it goes, right? =)

     

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