Britax has two infant bucket car seat options – the B-Safe 35 and the B-Safe 35 Elite. The Elite has just a few extra features than the base model B-Safe 35, but of course comes at an extra cost. So which is better? Both the B-Safe 35 and the B-Safe 35 Elite are great car seats. They have great side-impact protection and are very easy to install with the included base. But if you don’t mind spending a little extra money, it is worth it to go for the Elite model over the base model of the B-Safe 35. In my opinion, the extra features on the Elite completely outweigh the extra cost.
What are the differences?
Side impact protection
The Britax B Safe 35 Elite has an extra layer of side impact protection. What does this mean? This extra layer of side impact protection that the non-elite version lacks is an impact-absorbing headrest. This headrest helps keep your baby’s head and neck securely in place in the event of an accident.
The Britax B-Safe 35 surpasses safety standards, so don’t think you’ll be putting your little one in harm’s way if you don’t get the Elite. While I do like to see as much impact protection as possible, the headrest isn’t the sole reason I chose the Elite over the base model as the better product.
Read the full review for the Britax B Safe 35 here.
Quick adjust headrest
My favorite addition that the B-Safe 35 Elite seat has that the B-Safe 35 does not is Britax’s “quick adjust headrest.” While your child grows, you must adjust the shoulder straps on their car seat so that the shoulder straps are as close to your child’s shoulder level as possible. Many infant car seats have 3 or 4 shoulder strap positions (the B-Safe 35 has 4). The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite has 6 shoulder strap positions, allowing for a more accurate fit for your baby.
Basically, the fewer strap positions there are, the more space there is between each strap position. This doesn’t allow as accurate as a fit on your child.
The other benefit of the quick adjust headrest is that you do not need to rethread the harness straps in order to adjust them. In car seats without this feature, including the non-elite version of the B-Safe 35, you have to take the straps out of the back slots of the car seat and then rethread them back into the slots you want. This isn’t extremely difficult, but whenever I have had to do it in the past it makes me nervous because I’m afraid I’m not rethreading them back correctly. If you follow the directions in your owner’s manual, you should be okay – it’s not rocket science! You also do have to uninstall the car seat from the car in order to easily rethread the harness straps, so it’s not something you can accomplish very quickly.
With the quick adjust headrest, you simply squeeze a button at the top of the car seat which releases the back in a way that you can easily slide it up and down to find the perfect shoulder strap placement. You can even do it while your child is sitting in the seat, so you don’t have to guess and check which strap position slot is best for your growing child.
The B-Safe 35 Elite features an easy-to-remove cover, made of more breathable and softer materials than the B-Safe 35. It is important to note that the seat cover on both models are not machine washable. Britax advises you hand wash these seat covers only.
B-Safe 35 is 10 lbs, the B-Safe 35 Elite is 11.5 lbs. While I usually advocate for lighter infant car seats since you want to be able to easily maneuver it around, in this case, the extra benefits of the Elite make the extra pound and a half not an issue for me.
What do they have in common?
The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite have the following limitations:
- Child Weight Limits: 4 – 35 lbs
- Rear-facing only
- Child Standing Height Limits: 32″ or less
- Child Seated Shoulder Height Limits: 6.5 – 11″
The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 3 Elite have a steel frame, along with an engineered impact absorbing base. All of which help control the impact your child faces in the event of an accident.
Easy to install base
Both the B-Safe 35 and the B-Safe 35 Elite come with one base. The base uses safe center LATCH installation, making it really easy to tighten the base into your car.
The base allows you to simply click the car seat into your car each time you use it. This way you can easily remove the car seat and transport your baby around rather than uninstalling and reinstalling it each and every time.
Although it is easy to install the base, make sure you have your car seat inspected by a certified technician! When I installed my son’s seat for the first time (before he was born), I felt pretty confident that I had done it correctly. Turns out, I hadn’t. My local police station offered free car seat inspections. The technician who inspected the car seat was full of great information and tips to install a car seat correctly. Despite thoroughly reading the car seat owner’s manual, there were still things I wasn’t doing quite right!
If you’re still deciding whether or not you even want to go with a Britax infant seat at all, you may want to check out the possible downfalls of these seats.
The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite are both rear-facing only seats, meaning you will have to buy another car seat down the line once you switch your child to forward-facing. And although the weight limit says 35 lbs, I find this somewhat misleading – your child will most likely outgrow the height limits first, and not get anywhere near that 35 lb weight limit. Many people find themselves switching from an infant seat to a convertible seat around their child’s first birthday.
Some parents find the B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite to be too narrow for their baby. I think a lot of this has to do with how your baby is built, but if you do have a bigger baby, you may find yourself needing to upgrade to a bigger seat sooner than you expect.
Britax as a whole is a relatively expensive brand. I personally don’t mind spending the extra money on Britax, just because I feel the high cost is justified because of the extra features they put in place. I am on a tight budget, but there are certain things – like safety! – that I will spend a little extra for.
Britax also has amazing customer service, so if you ever have a problem with one of their seats, they will help you resolve any issues.
There are lighter infant car seats out there, and if you’re planning on traveling frequently with your infant seat, this may be a concern to you. The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite come in at 10 pounds and 11.5 pounds respectively. This isn’t super heavy, but it’s also not the lightest available. Much of this weight comes from the steel frame that is there to help absorb impact.
While it may make it a little more difficult to carry around, I wouldn’t discount this car seat on weigh only, because it is a great car seat overall. It is something to keep in mind, however. It may help to see one in person and see how it compares to other brands and models!
Color option for the B-Safe 35
Color options for the Elite
The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite both have rave reviews, with the B-Safe 35 actually coming out on top of the B-Safe 35 Elite. That’s why the B-Safe 35 made our list as a best infant car seat.
Britax B-Safe 35
- 4.4 out of 5 stars, 159 reviews – Target.com
- 5 out of 5 stars, 15 reviews – AlbeeBaby.com
Britax B-Safe 35 Elite
- 4.1 out of 5 stars, 99 reviews – Target.com
- 4 out of 5 stars, 95 reviews – Walmart.com
Ease of Use Ratings
When it comes to safety, installation and ease of use are incredibly important. While all car seats are required to pass federal safety testing, some are easier to use than others. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration computes an ease of use rating for every car seat in several categories. See the ratings below.
Overall, the Britax B-Safe 35 Rear-facing received a rating of 5 stars.
And the Elite also got a rating of 5 stars in rear-facing mode.
I highly recommend either of these car seats. The Elite model is only slightly more expensive than the B-Safe 35, but the price is definitely justified. The quick-adjust harness alone gives me reason to recommend the Elite over the B-Safe 35. I also like the extra layer of side-impact protection and higher quality fabrics. The only real reason I could see to buy the B-Safe 35 over the B-Safe 35 Elite is if you don’t want that extra pound and a half of weight to carry around. It might be noticeable at first, but once your little one gets bigger, I don’t think that extra pound will make much of a difference. But if you don’t mind spending a little extra, the B-Safe 35 Elite is definitely worth the additional cost.