Britax Millenia Review
A Fitters Perspective
Over 70% of child restraints are not installed correctly.
Don’t risk it!
Most Popular Baby Car Seat
An idea I had recently was to jot a few words down with regards to certain types of child restraints available in this country though from a non-bias opinion of a professional fitter (not a sales person). Where to start? Well why not with the most popular baby car seat fitted in this country – the Britax Millenia.
The overall intention of my Britax Millenia review, is to give you the reader an insight into the most popular baby car seat from a fitters point of view. I.e. considerations that might otherwise be not considered when choosing the best baby car seat for your child. Before I start, however, please feel free to visit my webpage CarSafeKids Pty Ltd to gain an understanding of my business and what it is I do or feel free to jump straight to my about Peter tab to learn about my experience etc. So without further delay, please enjoy my Britax Millenia Review – A fitters perspective.
Britax Millenia Review – Rearward facing mode
The Britax Millenia baby car seat is in my opinion the most fitted baby car seat in this country. From a professional fitters perspective, the product can be installed easily using either the ISOFIX system or by utilising the seat belt of the car. Either way, both work extremely well and both systems are extremely safe when used correctly. When not in use, the ISOFIX latches and webbing store neatly away unlike some other brands which can interfere with seatbelt path in both rearward facing and forward facing configurations when using the seat belt to install the restraint.
Britax Millenia Review – Rearward facing (correct angle)
An excerpt taken from Britax’s product manual indicates that packing may be required under the baby car seat to achieve the correct angle when fitting in baby mode. For any rearward facing baby car seat the travel angle is extremely important and MUST be adhered to. In my experience, and in particular when using the car seatbelt method, packing is almost always required. I find a good sized bath towel neatly folded will help to achieve the right angle; and don’t be afraid to use two if needed (Ford Falcons for example).
When using the ISOFIX method, quite often no packing is required due to the ISOFIX points pulling more towards the rear of the vehicle, hence tending to flatten out the base of the Britax Mellinia baby seat. Be aware, however, on occasion, due to the flattening of the base, I sometimes have to pack at the front of the child restraint (not the rear) as the base maybe nearer to zero degrees (or flat) instead of the ten to fifteen degrees required. In short, if doing it yourself… CHECK THE ANGLE and pack accordingly. If having it professionally done, ensure your fitter CHECKS THE ANGLE, this is most important.
Below are photos of two poor attempts at fitting newborn baby car seats that I came across in recent checking days. There are multiple issues both of them, however, for the purpose of this discussion, our interest is in the angles. In the first example (fig 1), the restraint is very steep. In the second example (fig 2), the restraint is not steep enough and almost lying flat. Both are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS for different reasons and should not be used in these configurations. Don’t risk it! If in doubt, use an accredited professional like myself.
Britax Millenia Review – How long should I leave my child rearward facing?
This is a very common question. In short, your infant is safer rearward facing than forward facing. Infants have relatively large heads and weak necks. This can potentially place them at high risk of serious injury if the their head and neck is not supported correctly. Rearward facing restraints are highly effective in preventing injuries as they fully support the child’s head and neck in the event of a crash. It is for this reason that rearward facing for as long as possible is highly recommended. Most modern day child restraints have the capacity to carry a child rearward facing for approximately two and a half to three years. The Britax Millenia is one these child restraints. For more information on this topic, Britax has included a facts page on their webpage and can be found here.
As you may or may not be aware, I have been in the industry for over fifteen years. In the early years of my career it was a real struggle to keep infants rearward for up to a year. Nine month turnarounds were common. Now, fifteen to eighteen months is the average, however, more and more parents / carers are opting for longer than this and over two years in rearward configuration is now common. At the time of writing this blog, I turned a four year old just last week.
Most professional child restraint installers recommend the following philosophy:
Leave your child in the restraint they’re in until it is time to move them on!
This basic rule of thumb includes rearward travel as well. Your Britax Millenia has two shoulder height markers pertaining to the rearward travel component. The first… you can turn, the second… you have to turn. If your Millenia is fitted and adjusted correctly, your child will be extremely comfortable. Also remember that he/she doesn’t know the difference so what’s the rush? It is also my experience that parents / carers with absolutely no professional intervention will turn early. Be wary of mothers group chat sessions and peer group pressure etc. Don’t be the first in your mothers group to turn, be the last! Why risk it?
Your child is safer travelling rearward facing – Fact!
What’s the rush?
Britax Millenia Review – Forward facing mode
When it finally comes time to turn your baby car seat from rearward racing to forward facing, like rearward facing, the Britax Millenia child restraint fits extremely well utilising either the ISOFIX system or the traditional seat belt system in most vehicles. It is my experience, however, that the ISOFIX system in some cars can tend to sit the child restraint more upright due to the ISOFIX webbing pulling more horizontally toward the back of the car (as with rearward facing). If you have a vehicle that creates this scenario, this may not be the best option for you should you have a child that sleeps a lot in the car . In this instance, the seat belt system maybe more practical as the restraint can usually achieve a better recline as the seat belt pulls more vertically and hence a more reclined fitting can generally be achieved. Please note too that there are multiple recline settings when in forward facing mode that can assist recline in both fitting applications. And please also note that packing under the base of the Britax Millenia is not required when in forward facing mode.
Britax Millenia Review – Harness and Active Head Restraint (AHR) adjustment
The Britax Mellenia child car seat has a “state of the art” adjustment mechanism that is designed for ease of use for all generations. By lifting the “easy-adjust” red headrest adjustment lever located on the top of the AHR (see above) and sliding the AHR up or down, will simultaneously lift or lower the inbuilt harness height respectively. This means that in any configuration i.e. rearward or forward facing, the child restraint will not have to be removed from the car to make any adjustments. Please note, however, that whist rearward facing, the overall length of the restraint will grow as the child grows and eventually, the AHR will protrude beyond the end of the restraint. In smaller cars this could pose an issue and the Britax Graphene, Brava or Compact maybe a better option due to their compact design.
When forward facing, some cars have fixed head rests that do not move or cannot be removed. Similarly, as the child grows, the AHR will eventually protrude above the top of the restraint often fouling with the fixed head rest especially when installed in the full recline mode. A solution to this problem is to install the restraint in the upright mode and the AHR will generally clear the headrest. In cars with reclining back seats, the desired recline in the child restraint can be achieved by reclining the actual car seat not the child restraint. However, some cars don’t have this feature.
Britax Millenia Review – How tight should my Britax Millenia be fitted?
This also is a common question. The best way I feel to answer this is to go straight to the product user manual. Located on page eighteen and nineteen are two pages of warnings and can be located here. Interesting to note that the first warning is directly related to how firm the restraint should be fitted. A direct excerpt is as follows:
So… how firm is firm enough? Parents / carers and many fitters for that matter have varying thoughts on this. Some fitters aim for a “rock-solid” fit whilst others tend to achieve a looser fit. For me, I generally aim for a more firmer fit than not; particularly in the rearward facing mode because as you now know, angles are extremely important. So one would assume that a firm fit is more desirable to keep the angle consistent for a longer period of time. A loosely fitted restraint will not achieve this in my opinion. So how firm is firm enough? A general rule of thumb is that once fitted, the restraint should have no sideways movement when shaken from the part of the child restraint nearest to the vertical part of car seat (back rest). Use of ISOFIX, seatbelt or seatbelt with gated buckle (or any other type of locking device for that matter) can easily achieve the desire firmness if used correctly. You MUST, however, continue to monitor ALL restraints once fitted. Never assume your restraint is safe and secure. Check it daily!
Over the years, my respect for the Britax range has grown immensely. So much so, the products are always my first choice when clients ask for advice with what to buy. And please note that I receive absolutely no kickbacks or any other benefit from endorsing their products. It is my opinion that the Britax Mellenia still remains the most fitted rearward/forward facing child restraint in this country for 0 – 4 year olds. It fits well in most mid-to large cars, though for smaller cars, the Britax Graphene (or equivalent) maybe a better choice due to its compact design. When considering price, the Millenia definitely isn’t the cheapest, however, I do believe the investment is worth while. And when considering safety, remember that ALL child restraints in this country have to pass stringent testing so all are perfectly safe for your child. Though the Millenia is fitted with “SIDE IMPACT CUSHION TECHNOLOGY (SICT™) – HEAD PROTECTION. Dual layer head protection minimises the energy generated in a side impact crash. The inner SICT™ layer provides 180° protection around your child’s head, a whilst the outer SICT™ layer on the seat exterior absorbs immediate crash energy” (Britax). All of that said, remember that ultimately, for a child restraint to perform well in an crash, it MUST BE FITTED CORRECTLY and it MUST BE USED CORRECTLY. Sadly, both of theses points are often overlooked in my experience.
So if in doubt, why risk it? Source a professional fitter and gain education on what is a well fitted restraint, but also, and just as important… gain an understanding on how to use it!
If you decide that you do need assistance, and if you live local to me in Melbourne, by all means give me a call. My phone number can be found here. If not, Australian Child Restraint Resource Initiative (for local and National providers) and KidSafe (VIC) both have find a fitter tabs to help you find a local professional near you and can be found here respectively – ACRI & KidSafe (VIC)
To find out more about my services, please click here.
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