*This seat has been discontinued* The Britax Chaperone was one of Britax’ three options for rear facing only seats for new or expectant parents or caregivers. (You can read about the latest model, Britax B-Safe 35 Elite, here.)
CSFTL Quick Stats:
- Weight range: 4-30 lbs
- Height range: up to 32″
- Shell height: 20″
- Lowest harness position: 6″ (without preemie insert)
- Weight (carrier only): 10 lb
- Expiration: 6 years
- Handle position: any locked position
- Seat belt lockoff
- Two position adjustable crotch strap
- Adjustable recline foot
- Push button lower anchor connectors
- No re-thread harness
- Anti-rebound bar
Rear-facing Assembly and Use (for under 11 lbs)
Britax has designed their infant seats to fit a wide range of babies from birth on up; the Chaperone is a reasonable choice for anyone expecting a premature infant, higher-order multiples, or who simply has a low birth weight baby.
For infants under 11 lbs, certain adjustments may or must be made to the seat prior to use. The seat has two positions for the buckle; for newborns and infants under 11 lbs, select the one further back in the seat pan.
The harness attaches at the splitter plate behind the seat, as is fairly typical for most harnessed seats. at the end of the harness straps are two separate loops; use the further in ones for the 11 lb baby. When assembled, the harness should look like this.
The two above modifications are required for any infant under 11 lbs. For a very short, or very low birth weight baby, the additional foam insert may be required. If your baby’s shoulders do not reach the bottom harness position when strapped into the seat, or you cannot adequately snug the harness down to pass the pinch test, you must use the low birth weight foam to achieve an adequate fit.
Jo, our Huggable Images preemie doll, represents a 4 lb newborn, and with a little preemie cloth on her bum, fits quite nicely in the Chaperone. I’ve removed the harness covers and buckle protector to help get a snug fit and give a more clear image of what a correctly buckled premature baby might look like.
Here is Fiona, our 7 lb newborn. While I still have the loops and crotch buckle set to the under 11 lb position, I have removed in the low birth weight foam, as she adequately fits the harness with no extra padding.
Rear Facing Assembly and Use for infants over 11 lbs
Eventually even those tiny babies will grow, and you will need to convert your Chaperone to the bigger baby setting.
If you’ve used the foam insert, now is the time to remove it.
The buckle should be moved to the outer position, and the loops on the end of the harness straps adjusted to the outer position.
You may then continue to use this seat, adjusting the head restraint up so that the harness is positioned at, or slightly below, the baby’s shoulders, until baby has outgrown the seat by reaching 30 lbs, or 32″, or has 1″ of clearance at the top of his head to the top of the seat.
While some infant seats have overstated height or weight capacities, the Chaperone could easily accommodate a 32″ infant. The author’s daughter, at just 22 lbs and 32″ is small for a two-year old, but she just slides in under the 1″ mark. Most people will not be particularly inclined to use a rear facing only seat for two years, but it’s a handy feature for those with smaller children, especially if you intend to travel by air.
This is Lucas, our 31″ 16 month old Huggable Images doll, he measures 20 lbs and 31″. As you can see he fits well, with room to spare.
Installing the Britax Chaperone
When Britax first released the Chaperone, many advocates and technicians had one thing to say: “Wow! This seat is REALLY BIG.” And big it is. When installed with the base, it takes up more front to back room than almost any other rear facing only seat. If you currently drive a mini-Cooper and are settled on a Britax seat for your newborn, you may wish to consider the B-Safe, which does not have the anti-rebound bar in the base.
The second thing we noticed was that when installed, the seat extended so far off the edge off the edge of the vehicle seat, in many cases it exceed the 80% of the restraint on the seat rule of thumb we were taught in technician training. Britax, who is generally extremely responsive to such consumer concerns, let us know then that we do not need to be concerned with the 80% figure we were looking for, for the Chaperone.
Since then, they have placed a molded line on the bottom of the base to indicate how far the overhang may go while still be considered an acceptable fit.
Installation with Lower Anchors
As with most rear facing only seats, lower anchor install can only be achieved using the base. You may use lower anchors if your choice of vehicle seat has a dedicated lower anchor position. In addition, if you are in a car that permits borrowing, and the lower anchor spacing is between 11 and 20 inches, you may ‘borrow’ two internal anchors to create a LATCH position.
Remove the lower anchor attachments from their storage position in the base, and loosen the webbing to give yourself slack.
Secure the lower anchors attachments in the vehicle, then tighten, and use the internal lock off to secure tail of the webbing
Test for movement with one hand at the belt path. You should have less than 1″ of movement either side to side or front to back, with gentle pushing from your head.
Place the infant seat in the base and check the level to make sure it is within the allowed range. Newborns are more comfortable at the more reclined end of the range until they have good head and neck control. As your baby gets older, you may wish to decrease the recline.
If the seat is not within acceptable range, use the provided adjustable recline on the base to change the angle.
Installation with seatbelt
If your car is not LATCH equipped, or the baby is in a seating position without lower anchors, or you just prefer the seat belt installation, the seat belt is an acceptable and safe way to install your seat. Place the base on the seat as described above, and run the seat belt through the belt path. Tighten to less than 1″ of movement as described above. If you have a lap belt, be sure to secure the loose tail in the lock off along with the belt. If you have a 3-point belt, be sure to secure the shoulder belt along with the lap belt in the lock-off.
Installation without the base
If you live in the city and travel by cab, ever travel by plane, or ever swap the seat into a friend’s or babysitter’s car, chances are you’ll be using the seat baseless. Installation is simple.
For a three-point belt, the belt goes through the belt guide, while the shoulder belt is placed against the vehicle seat back. For a two point belt, the lap belt goes through the belt guides. Britax does not permit euro-routing for three-point belts. Again, check for movement at the belt path, and examine the level to make sure the bubble is in the proper place.
CSFTL was not compensated for this restraint or review and opinions, as always, are entirely our own.