Britax has recently released an updated, and upgraded, version of their B-Safe rear facing only seat. Some of the features on this B-Safe 35 Elite version are an improvement upon the older version, but many are new. If you liked the B-Safe model, I think you’ll love the B-Safe 35 Elite. Britax has taken great care to make sure that this new seat is easy to use, visually appealing, and long-lasting, too.
CSFTL Quick Stats:
- Weight range: 4-35 lbs
- Height range: up to 32″
- Shell height: 19.5″
- Lowest harness position: 5.5,” 4.5″ with insert
- Two buckle positions: 3.5″ and 5.5″
- Weight (carrier only): 9 lbs
- Expiration: 6 years
- Handle position: Allows any locked position in the vehicle
- Seat belt lock off on the base
- Premium push-button lower anchor connectors
- Easily accessible belt path for baseless installation
- No-rethread harness
- Infant insert for babies under 11 lbs
Overall, I found installation with the base to be extremely easy. I didn’t run into any problems in either our Pontiac Grand Am or our Honda Odyssey. I installed it a number of different ways, using both the lower anchors and different types of vehicle belts (but never both the lower anchors and the vehicle belt at the same time as this is not allowed on the B-Safe Elite).
Installation With the Base
The base has three recline positions and the button to release the recline foot is located in the front of the base, where it touches the vehicle seat. I found that I was able to adjust the recline after I put the base into the car if needed. The base has a handy indicator on each side, making it easy to tell if it is reclined properly. Should it be necessary to use a pool noodle for installation, the recline foot must be in the lowest position. I did not need a pool noodle to help achieve the proper recline in either of my vehicles; I could adjust the foot on the base to make the seat more upright or reclined within the allowed range.
Installation with the lower anchors was fairly straightforward after consulting the manual. For ease of use, there are clear instructional stickers on the base which offer assistance as well. First, one must push the red button at the top of the base, as seen in the photo below, and push the lower anchor connector buttons while pulling them out of their storage spot. Check the recline angle indicator, and make sure that the arrow is in between the two red lines. Next, attach the connectors to the vehicle’s lower anchors, making sure that they’re the correct lower anchors for that seating position. Push firmly, making sure that there is an audible “click.” Then, pull on the straps in the middle of the base to tighten the lower anchors. When finished, check that the base moves no more than 1″ (2.5 cm) at the belt path.
For ease when installing the base with a lap/shoulder belt, Britax has added seat belt lock offs. Simply put the belt through the belt path, push down on the base, tighten the belt, and, while keeping the shoulder portion tight, thread it through the lock off on the opposite side of the buckle. I did this in both of our vehicles and it was very easy. The lock off is used in place of locking the vehicle belt, and since it holds the belt tightly, it makes installation a breeze.
Never use the lock off with a lap only belt. Simply route the belt through the belt path, highlighted by a sticker with arrows which says “Seat Belt Route” and lock the belt as directed in the vehicle manual. My lap only belt locks at the latch plate (male end) of the buckle, so I simply pulled on the “tail” end of the belt and put pressure on the base. I found that I got better leverage by pulling the belt back through the belt path. When tight I put the rest of the strap through the belt path so it was out of the way.
If you find that your belt buckle has a long strap and it comes up into the belt path, preventing the base from “clicking” into place, Britax suggests twisting the female end of the buckle up to three times to help keep the buckle out of the belt path. I didn’t need to do this for my vehicles, but it might be necessary for some. Make sure that you only check for movement at the belt path.
Installation Without the Base
Installing the B-Safe 35 Elite without the base is a piece of cake thanks to its belt guides. They’re very visible and it’s clear when the belt is in the right place. When using a lap/shoulder belt, route only the lap portion of the belt through the guides, making sure that nothing is twisted. Check to be sure that the recline line on the stickers on the side of the car seat are level when the car is parked on a flat surface. Lock the belt, push on the car seat where the child would be sitting, and remove all the belt slack. The shoulder portion will lay against the vehicle seat back. The base should move no more than 1″ (2.5cm) side to side or front to back. Unsure about how your belt locks? We have an article for you!
I also installed the car seat baseless with a lap only belt in one of our vehicles. Making sure that the line is level to the ground, I put the belt through the belt guides and pushed down on the car seat where baby would sit. Since this lap only belt tightens at the buckle, I simply had to pull the extra strap and make sure that it didn’t move more than 1″ at the belt path.
Using a car seat baseless is not something that everyone does, but it’s perfectly safe when done properly. The base of a car seat system is generally only for convenience. Like many other rear facing only seat bases, the B-Safe 35 Elite’s base is not FAA approved. Since a baseless installation with this seat is so easy, that is not a problem. In fact, you’ll encounter lap belt only seats on airplanes, similar to the one in the photo below. We just flew with our four kiddos, and I think it would have been a little easier, definitely quicker, to install a seat for our one year old with a belt path like the one on the B-Safe 35 Elite. This carrier is a little heavier than some, which may seem like a problem for traveling, but I think that the belt paths and ease of installation on the plane can make up for that. Need more info on flying with Littles? Check out our article!
Using the Car Seat
The B-Safe 35 Elite has a no-rethread harness, which means that it is not necessary to remove the harness and put it through other slots in the shell when baby has outgrown a harness slot. This mechanism is adjusted from the back of the car seat and can be done in a few simple steps. Locate the adjuster tabs on the back of the seat, squeeze or push them together, and the harness height mechanism will move freely up or down. Remember that baby’s harness has to be at or below her shoulders, so double-check that it is still in the correct position after moving the harness.
The car seat comes with the harness ready to go for newborns. That’s very handy, since no one wants to have to make major adjustments when baby arrives. However, a few changes must be made when baby reaches 11 pounds. The insert must be removed, the crotch buckle must be moved to the outer position, and the harness must be switched from the newborn loops to the longer setting. It took me only a few moments to make sure that all of this was done properly for my 16 pound baby.
The cover is easy to remove and can be hand-washed, like other Britax covers. Even though this particular cover, in the Domino fashion, is dark gray and black, it didn’t seem too hot for my baby. It’s August in Arizona, so sometimes this can be a concern. The cover seemed breathable but sturdy. The canopy is flexible and provides moderate coverage.
Surprisingly, I found that the B-Safe 35 Elite’s base was only 13.5″ wide at its widest point. At the top it’s a little wider, and the widest part is the carry handle on the sides. It was 27.75 ” at its longest, but only 24″ when the handle was placed in another position. Three handle positions are allowed for use in the vehicle, so I’m fairly certain that this seat would fit in many vehicles without much problem. Baseless, the seat was even more compact. In my husband’s Grand Am, when I installed the car seat in the middle, there was plenty of room on the sides, so I think that it could work in a three-across situation well depending upon the other car seats in the vehicle.
Fit to Child
Jo- Huggable Images Doll; 4 lbs, 17″
Our preemie doll, Jo, represents the average small preemie baby. With the infant insert, she had a very snug fit in the B-Safe 35 Elite on the second setting. The insert is not required for babies who weigh 4-11lb, but it does provide support for those smaller babies. The comfort pads on the harness seemed a little big for her, and depending upon the size of your preemie or smaller newborn, you may want to consider removing them to improve the fit if necessary. The belly pad kept the buckle off Jo’s belly and left no room between her crotch area and the buckle strap.
Fiona, Huggable Images Doll; 7 lbs, 17″
This is our newborn doll, Fiona. She is about the size of an actual newborn, weighing in at 7 lbs, and she’s also 17″. She is using the third harness setting and the infant insert, and the harness was at her shoulders. The comfort pads seemed like they might be a better fit for an average sized baby like Fiona. I really like that the chest clip seems to a perfect size for smaller babies, as we can see on both Fiona and Jo. That is a change from the B-Safe model, and I believe that it improves the fit.
Maeve, 12 months; 16 lbs, 29″
Maeve is a smaller one year old, and has a lot of growing room in the B-Safe 35 Elite. Since she’s over 11 pounds, I had to move the crotch buckle out, change the harness setting, and remove the insert. She is using the fourth headrest setting so that the harness is at or below her shoulders. She was not a big fan of the comfort pads, so I removed them. The belly pad is still a really nice addition for a baby Maeve’s size, since it keeps the buckle from pressing onto her and helps to ensure that there’s no gap at her crotch. Unlike our Huggable Images dolls, Maeve can be a bit wiggly when we’re trying to buckle her into her car seat, but since belt guides double as holders for the harness and buckle tongues, I can put them out of the way and get her seated. My husband, like many parents, prefers to loosen the harness every time they put baby in the car, which is fine. He liked that the harness was very easy to tighten and loosen. Maeve normally rides in one of several convertible seats, but seems to really enjoy riding in the B-Safe 35 Elite, so she’ll keep using it for now.
- Unique features on the B-Safe 35 Elite covered above are the no-rethread harness system, with six height settings
- Integrated vehicle belt lock offs on the base
- Easy to use belt guide on the restraint for baseless installation which doubles as holders for the harness
- Easy to remove cover
- Easy to read recline angle indicators
- Buttons and indicators in red, so they’re easy to locate
- Lower anchor connector storage spot at the front of the base, which is very visible and convenient
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: Notice of FAA approval is both inside the manual (page seven) and on the right side of the seat. A large red and white icon of an airplane helps the information to stand out.
Expiration: Six years from date of manufacture. Stickers with information about the date of manufacture, serial number, and other important information are located on the right side of the carrier next to the harness adjustment mechanism and on the bottom of the base.
Manual: The manual comes attached to the harness, but can be stored in a very handy spot at the back of the base.
Overall, I really like this car seat. It would have provided my baby with a fantastic fit at birth, and she can still use it for a while yet. I like that the upgrades to the belt path and lock offs make it easy to install, letting me switch cars easily. The harness adjusts very smoothly, and the harness height adjustment system is pretty fool-proof. While the car seat itself is a little heavy, at around nine pounds, I usually leave it in the car and take baby out of her seat now that she’s older. The carrier is a little more narrow at the shoulders, so I do wonder how the fit would change for a larger toddler, and I think that a chunky baby might seem squished. If you’re looking for something easy enough for the grandparents to use, and you want a few bells and whistles, I think the B-Safe 35 Elite would be right up your alley. It’s sleek and sophisticated but also plush and comfortable for baby. The major difference between the B-Safe 35 and the B-Safe 35 Elite is the no-rethread harness, but the infant insert is also different in the B-Safe model. There is no safety difference in having a seat with a rethread harness vs. a no-rethread harness, but not having to undo and thread the straps when adjusting them for baby is a convenience feature which can appeal to many.
Don’t want to wait for the giveaway to end? Need one now? The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite is available for sale at Amazon.com.
The Britax B-Safe 35 is also available at Amazon.com.
Britax has generously offered to partner with us and give away a B-Safe 35 Elite to one lucky person! Enter here.
As always, our opinions are our own and are not sponsored by any company or outside entity. However, Britax did furnish a car seat for review purposes and the giveaway.