The Convertible Car Seat In My Compact Car
- What: Britax Roundabout Convertible Car Seat
- Why: Highest safety ratings, compact size
- Where: Amazon
You may have already read about my aversion to infant car seats. So what did I get when I had my first child? The same thing every one of my employers had gotten for their children once they finished with their infant seats: the Britax Roundabout convertible car seat.I got it for the same reason they did – because of its highest safety rating by Consumer Reports. I had two additional reasons for picking the Roundabout. First and foremost, I had tons of experience with the seat, installing and uninstalling repeatedly it in my car over a period of years. I’d had it checked by a professional in my personal vehicle and gotten tips that I wouldn’t have had for any other seat without an additional professional check. But mostly, I knew it would fit.
I drove a Volkswagen New Beetle at the time, which for anyone who doesn’t know, is a two door hatchback. It actually has a ton of interior room, but with a reverse-facing car seat installed, the car seat reduced the front passenger seat to a cargo area for bags and strollers. A compact care seat mattered to me, both because it had to fit and it had to install rear-facing in my car.
I loved the Roundabout and by the time my second child arrived, I had acquired two more, for a grand total of four. But if I had it to do over again, I’d pay the extra money to get the Marathon or Boulevard models from Britax because of the improved harness adjustment on both those models. On the Roundabout, you thread the harness straps through one of four sets of slots, similar to an infant car seat. That’s fine when the seat is rear-facing, because you can access the back of the seat to move the harness up. But once it’s forward-facing, you have to uninstall the seat to access the straps in the back. And there are only a few things I want to do less than uninstall my child’s car seat just so I can reinstall it again five minutes later.
Additionally, the Roundabout has grown from when I first started using it. It’s gone from a size 40 model to a 50, then to a 55, which means it’s 15 centimeters taller. That’s good news because it last longer – most kids outgrow their convertible seats in height long before they hit the weight limit. But for someone concerned with the amount of space a rear-facing seat takes up, there’s no longer a significant difference between the Roundabout and some of the other models by the same company.
The cover from the roundabout is machine washable and you can buy additional covers to change the appearance. You can also purchase accessories like cup holders once your toddler starts using such things, but all those things are true for the other models as well. Unlike my newer Marathon and Boulevard models, my Roundabout 40’s easily fit through the security checkpoint at all airports without requiring any additional time for a hand check due to being oversize.
In summary, although I’ve retired two of my Roundabouts because they expired (all car seats expire in six to seven years from the date of manufacture – NOT purchase date, which can be a dramatic difference – due to the potential of breakdown in the strength of the materials with time and exposure), but all four have held up very well to the wear and tear and multiple installations and long trips with zero complaints. If you want to save a bit of money, the Roundabout is certainly a solid choice that will last for a minimum of several years.