The best car seat is the one that fits your child, vehicle, budget, and lifestyle and has the features important to you. The safest car seat is the one you can install correctly and use properly on every ride! Let us know in the comment section what questions you have about this review of the Britax Willow S car seat. And if you want to compare car seats and let us help you find your recommended car seats, our Car Seat Buying Kits are your best bet!
Britax Willow S Car Seat Review (USA/Canada)
The Britax Willow S is the latest infant seat from Britax. Unlike its predecessor, the Willow, which is only available as part of a travel system, the Willow S can be purchased separately. Additionally, the Willow S features an anti-rebound bar on the base for enhanced safety. Like the Willow, this seat also has a ClickTight mechanism on the base, which we love due to how easy it makes getting a tight installation!
An infant car seat
From birth until it’s outgrown, between 9-12 months
What you need to know before you go.*
- height limit: 32″
- weight limit: 4-30 pounds
- head height rules: at least 1″ below the top of the headrest
- preemie fit: good bet for 5+ pounds
Other Seat Stats
- width of seat: 17″
- weight of seat: 9 pounds
- crash replacement policy: NHTSA
- expiration limits: 6 years
- harness: Rethread
- lock-off: yes
- handle positions for the vehicle: any locked position
*Head to the Car Seat Buying Kits for a complete database of all car seat stats for our recommended car seats.
✅ Seat is Good for You If:
✅ You would like a car seat with flame-retardant-free fabric.
All of the Willow S fabric options are free of flame-retardants, so you can choose any color that you prefer!
✅ You want a seat with an easy installation.
Britax has added a Clicktight mechanism to the Willow S’s base that makes installation effortless. You really don’t have to do much except route the seat belt, buckle it in, and then close the Clicktight mechanism. The mechanism removes many inches of slack for you so you don’t even need to tighten the seat belt.
✅ You need to fit 3 across
Like most infant seats, the Britax Willow S is very narrow. Thanks to its 17″ width and easy installation, this could be a good option in a 3 across configuration.
🚩 Use Caution If:
🚩 You have a specific stroller in mind to use or if you already bought one.
️ Stand Out Features:
The base has an anti-rebound bar (ARB) built into it. The anti-rebound bar is an added safety feature for rear-facing that can reduce the secondary movement of the car seat, called rebound, during a crash. When a collision occurs, the car seat will move forward, towards the front of the vehicle, and rotate downward. And as we all know from high school physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction — so after that initial movement, the car seat will rebound, or “bounce back” towards the backrest of the vehicle seat. The ARB minimizes this bounce-back effect, helping limit the car seat movement and your child inside it! ARBs may also limit the side-to-side rotation of the car seat in a side-impact collision. Overall, it’s a great feature on a rear-facing car seat!
If you want to install your car seat in the middle and your middle seat does not have lower anchor points, then you will need to do a seat belt installation. The Clicktight mechanism on the base makes getting a solid installation quick and effortless.
European Seat Belt Routing for Baseless Mode
This seat can be installed baseless with European or American/Standard belt routing. You can find a video showing both of those methods here. The European routing method is preferred! European belt routing means the shoulder belt portion of the seat belt is routed behind the shell of the rear-facing seat, limiting its ability to rotate down in a frontal crash. This routing functions similarly to a load leg. Pretty cool, huh?!
✈️ Airplane Use
The Britax Willow S is a recommended choice for both domestic and international travel as it is FAA-approved. When traveling within the United States and Canada, installing the seat without the base is a breeze, as the seat belts in these countries have locking mechanisms that ensure a secure fit. For international travel, it is recommended to pack the base in your luggage and utilize its seat belt lock-off or lower anchors for installation because, typically, seat belts in other countries will not lock. If you choose not to travel with the base, you will need to contact the manufacturer for a locking clip and learn how to use it before you travel. For help with all things airplane travel and car seats, check out our Wheels Up Course and private Facebook group.
SITS Bottom Line
The Britax Willow S infant car seat offers several standout features for safety and convenience. It comes with flame-retardant-free fabric options and an easy-to-use ClickTight mechanism for effortless installation. The seat is also narrow enough to fit in a 3 across configuration, ideal for families with multiple young children. However, compatibility with strollers is limited, so consult the manufacturer’s chart if you have a specific stroller in mind. The anti-rebound is an additional safety feature that we love to see.
Other Versions of this Seat:
Britax Willow (US)- currently only available as part of a travel system, base does not have an anti-rebound bar
Britax Willow (Canada)-currently only available as part of a travel system, base does not have an anti-rebound bar
Britax Willow S* -Canadian link
*A SITS recommended seat. Recommended seats are in our Buying Kits because they have ranked high on our vehicle, child, ease of use, and features scales.
Compare Car Seats
Looking to compare car seats and narrow down the best car seat for your family? The Infant Car Seat Buying Kit walks you through our 7Cs of selection, then on to an interactive quiz, and finally, a recommended car seat list is generated just for you! If you are overwhelmed and sick of spending hours researching and reading car seat reviews like this one, the Buying Kit will guide you to Safe in the Seat’s recommended car seats for you in under 30 minutes!
We check every day for our recommended car seats on sale, and we have all the deals here for you.
What About Seats We Don’t Recommend?
Just like anyone, we have preferences! This goes for car seats, too. If we don’t recommend a car seat, it’s not because it’s unsafe for your little one. All car seats are safe if they’re installed and used properly, are not expired or damaged, and when they’re made and sold by a reputable manufacturer and/or retailer. Click here for our full list of car seats that we do not recommend.
A note about crash-tests
How does the Britax Willow S perform in crash tests?
Well, that’s a great question. We know that it passes the strict federally required testing that applies to all car seats sold in the United States. But we don’t know exactly how it performs. That data isn’t released by any official sources in the US — not by car seat manufacturers, not by government agencies like NHTSA, not anywhere!
There are a few third-party websites that claim to offer objective crash test data for a variety of car seats. But we at Safe in the Seat don’t pay attention to that data for a few big reasons. First of all, third-party crash tests don’t actually give us meaningful data! Car seat manufacturers crash-test their products hundreds, even upwards of a thousand times. They crash test the finished product in every single installation configuration using every applicable-sized crash test dummy, not to mention a whole lot of testing at each stage of the development process too. So one or two crash tests completed by another organization just can’t give the same level of information! One or two crash tests aren’t going to represent the overall average performance of any car seat across its lifespan.
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