Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Britax Regent & Sunshine Kids Radian80 Seats - a review

Today I am writing to share some product reviews on two different seats. These are the seats the foundation uses and recommends.

I will start with the Britax Regent. I personally love this seat. It provides a lot of room for a growing child and will hold an older child with ease. It is a larger seat, however, but it is great for your older child that is still not ready to be placed into a booster. Depending on the child's growth pattern, this seat can be used to roughly age 8 or 9 from what I have seen. Some children will outgrow it faster. This is a forward facing, harnessing seat only.

The seat has a 20" harness height and holds a child up to 80lbs. I have had great luck installing this seat in a variety of vehicles and have never had any problems getting a proper and tight installation. This seat is forward facing only and requires the use of a top tether when the child reaches 50lbs (though top tether use is ALWAYS recommended at any stage). From my personal experience with the seat for my children, I have noticed they seem very comfortable and have lots of room to relax and move about. The harness adjusts with ease and my kids really enjoy riding in their Regents. My middle son who is 7, still naps often in the car and he never seems uncomfortable when he leans his head slightly to the side as he sleeps. Seats manufactured after June 18 2007 require the use of a recline bar for proper installation, and with this recline it gives the seat just enough lean to it that a sleeping child doesn't lean forward into the harnesses as they nap.

This seat will help you keep your child in a 5 point harness much longer than most seats with its high harness height and high harness weight limit.

Now lets talk about the Sunshine Kids Radian80. I love this seat also. Like the Regent, it has a 80lb weight limit on the harnesses. This seat has a lot of neat features and, unlike the Regent, rear faces and then forward faces.

The Radian80 is a more narrow seat, making it very easy to fit three across the back seat of nearly any vehicle. I have noticed in personal use in our van, that it is not compatible with all seat belt systems in all vehicles. It has a low, back belt path. In my van, for example, the middle row has stiff buckle stalks that lean forward, that forward leaning doesn't allow the belt to come back far enough to get a tight install of these seats in the middle row. It does fit most vehicles that I have tried the seat in. This seat can be used without a top tether, so if you have an older vehicle or your vehicle cannot be retrofitted with a top tether anchor, this seat is a good choice to allow you to still harness your child. The top harness slot height is 18" on this seat, however, with this seat, the shoulders can go past the top harness slot as long as the tops of the child's ears are not past the shell of the seat. Some other points about this seat include the folding seat and the carry strap to transport it easily. It is a bit heavier than most seats though. It is also FAA approved. This seat rear faces from 5-35lbs and forward to 80lbs. This seat, from what I have seen personally, will hold a child in general to about age 7-8. Of course this varies depending on the child's height and weight.

My views as a mom, not a tech, are that these seats are both fantastic. They have provided me a great deal of extra security in keeping my children in 5 point harnesses for a much longer time than I ever thought I would be able to. I do ride much easier knowing that they have this extra added safety. It was really quite ironic, the day we had our first 80lb. harnessing seats installed I left with something that I didn't even know I was missing. The comfort that my kids were as safe as they could be.

Extended harnessing is truly the safest way your children can ride. A harness will provide better protection for them and increase their chances for less injury if you are in a crash. I hope that these reviews about the seats help you understand why the the foundation uses these seats, why techs love them so much and we suggest them to parents.


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