Car Seat Wars: Recaro vs Britax

Please note: This review is my own. Nobody asked me to do it. Nobody (sadly) is paying me for it. I’m putting it out there in case you are debating between these two car seats.

This review is for the Britax Frontier 85 SICT vs the Recaro ProSPORT. These are both five-point harness combination car seat and booster seat. For both, when the child is big enough, you can remove the harnesses and use it as a regular booster.

First of all, don’t let the names fool you. According to its Web site, Recaro submitted its car seat to the ADAC (most recognized automotive testing organization in Europe for side-impact protection testing) and passed its side-impact testing standards. The Britax USA Web site states “No other car seat company offers this level of side impact protection technology.” But does not say whether a third party has assessed its product against set standards.

We are a two-car family. Both Hubbs and I work full-time and we share pick-up/drop-off duties at day care. With two kids, that means we’ve bought FOUR car seats. (My wallet started smoldering at the memory. And we used a hand-me-down infant seat from a friend, otherwise that would have been FIVE car seats purchased. Yeowza.)

I bought the Britax Frontier 85 SICT on a lark. I was perusing a local store when the SICT first came out, because I was looking for a second booster/harness seat for Sean. At that point, we had one car with the Recaro ProSPORT for Sean and an infant seat (click-in base) for Allie. In the second car, Sean was forward-facing in a Recaro ProRIDE convertible car seat, with another click-in base for Allie’s infant seat. Allie was close to outgrowing her infant seat. At that point, we were going to move the Recaro ProRIDE to rear-facing, and get both her and Sean new seats (1 new booster/harness, 1 new convertible car seat).

Still with me?

The shop had both booster/harness seats in stock for a side-by-side comparison. Height-wise, the Britax 85 SICT is a bit taller. Width wise, the outer base was about the same. Weight wise, in terms of me picking them up side-by-side — about the same. But the wings outside the lower side cushion on the Britax 85 SICT — the extra side-impact supports — were much wider than the wings on the ProSPORT.

Everyone I know seems to have Britax car seats and they rave about them all the time. I had always bought Recaro previously. They have an impeccable safety record, make solid, sturdy, and heavy seats that are plush and comfortable, and they manufacture race car seats. Anyone who can manufacture a seat that keeps a person alive — and even unharmed — after a 200+ mph crash must be doing something right in my book.

In the end, it was price and curiosity that swayed me. I needed to buy two car seats. Although the Britax would normally be about $30 more than the Recaro, it was on sale — making them the same price. My curiosity got the better of me and I bought the Britax.

I’m kind of a pro at installing car seats at this point, so this part may not be accurate for you — but both car seats installed easily and quickly using the LATCH system. I’d say it took me less than 10 minutes from start to finish, and that includes laying down a seat protector underneath and adjusting the seats to Sean’s height. (Also easy.)

Image from

Overall, the Britax 85 is a good seat. I like the top buckle fastener guides, because it keeps the buckle in place — meaning Hubbs has it at the right spot when he’s buckling Sean in and Sean cannot pull it down to his belly button when I’m not looking.

The cup holders are handy.

The arm rests? Pretty much useless. They made it easier for me to haul the seat into the car, but they mostly serve as a diving board for Sean’s toys. I mean, look at them in the picture at left. (OK, they’re hard to see. Do you see the red blocks on the side of the kid? Just above them. Those nubs are the arm rests.) Once your kid hits a certain height, its practically impossible to use them.

Sean hasn’t complained, but in terms of padding — the Britax has less padding for the butt than Recaro, and the side wings are harder than the Recaro.

But the biggest difference is the seat cover. The Britax seat cover comes off easily, and you don’t have to unbuckle it from the LATCH system to do it. I thought this was the greatest thing ever the first time Sean threw up in the car and all over the seat. I ripped the cover off in no time flat and had it in the washing machine on the sanitary cycle before you could gag from the fumes.

And then I tried to get the cover back on. I was not amused.

I broke two nails tucking the seat cover in the tiny crevice between the head supports and the side-impact wings. And then the nail in the coffin: Britax expects two elastic loops to secure the bottom of the seat cover to the plastic base.

Two small elastic loops. On the part where your child sits, the part that moves the most.

Two small elastic loops that never stay on the little nubs under the seat again.

Meaning that every time you put your kid in the seat, you have to make sure he doesn’t come in contact with the darn seat until he’s directly above it — otherwise the cover flips up, folds in half, and you have to hold a 35-pound toddler with one hand while you’re bent at the waist and fumbling with the seat cover with the other hand just so you can buckle him in.

The cup holders aren’t worth it.

Image from

As for the Recaro ProSPORT: When I bought it, both Hubbs and I looked at each other and said: “I want MY seat to feel like that.” In a word, the padding is plush. It is very soft (even after 5+ washing machine + dryer cycles), and food comes off it amazingly quick with a wet wipe.

I know the seat itself is slightly narrower on the Recaro vs the Britax, so if you’re child is on the heftier side, that may be a factor. But at 3 years old, we still have the extra cushion on the seat and we won’t be taking it off anytime soon.

Here’s something to think about: Which car seat do you think has better head protection? In my opinion, it is the Recaro. Despite having those wide plastic buffers on the side of it, the actual headrest and wings are not as wide or long on the Britax compared to the Recaro.  The Britax wings are also harder, whereas the Recaro foam is thicker.

Consider this: Sean sleeps more in the Recaro.  His head stays secure — never bouncing or rolling around — and he sleeps so deeply he snores. He will occasionally sleep in the Britax, but his head rolls around, waking him up, and I’ve never heard him hit snore-land. Some people say the Recaro wings “impede” their child’s side view and that is why they don’t like it as much as the Britax. Flimsy reasoning by my book, but then again — I’m bagging on Britax for elastic loops on a seat cover.

The cup holders are a non-issue. If they’re there, nice. If not, nobody notices.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve washed the cover on the Recaro 5+ times so far. It isn’t easy to get the cover off the frame. You have to unhook the car seat from your LATCH system first. Because the Recaro seat cover is held on by heavy-duty metal snaps. There are eight going down the back of the car seat alone. The cover is also tight on the seat, so it takes some wiggling to get it off. Not the most fun thing to do when its coated in vomit. (Also good to note: You can remove the straps and throw those in the washing machine.)

That being said — that seat cover goes back on the seat and fits like a glove. It is secure. Sean climbs into it by himself with no problems and no adjusting needed by me.  In terms of durability, washability, and fitting back on the seat after you’ve washed it, the Recaro seat cover wins. Pair that with the extra comfort, plushness, and third-party verified safety of the wider and longer wings … it isn’t even close.

Still on the fence? As of today, the Britax 85 SICT retails for $254.99 on and comes in three color options. The Recaro ProSPORT retails for $233.99 on and comes in eight color options. (Note: The plusher/softer fabrics are: Aspen, Misty, Sable, and Riley options.)

Sorry Britax, if I had to go back and do it all again, I would have bought another Recaro ProSPORT.


Over The River And Through The Woods …

We took the children on their first overnight excursion this past weekend. Sean is 3. Allie is 19 months old. You could say this was overdue, but to that I say: Dude. At least we got here already, OK? I wasn’t allowed to sleep over ANYWHERE until I was 7 years old.  (My dad was slightly over protective.)

Moving on!

We (the kids and I) slept over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house as part of Grandma’s birthday present this weekend. More time with small people makes her very happy. And so we stay.

But how do you make this work? What are the essentials for small-child sleepovers?

Planning. Lots and lots of planning. Here’s how it breaks down by child:

Allie (19 months): 1 backpack + 2 large paper bags

  • Sleeping quarters: Crib that lives at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for her use;
  • Portable crib toy/lullaby machine;
  • 4 Binkys;
  • 3 Crib friends — most likely her 2 teddy bears and a “baby” doll of her choice. (It’s going to be the monkey.)
  • Pajamas with feet attached (I bring 2 — fleece and thin cotton, depending on weather.);
  • 2 outfits for next day (factoring in inevitable messes);
  • 1 pair socks;
  • Bevy of her eczema lotions, creams, and ointments;
  • Wipes;
  • Bath supplies (Dove body wash, Aveeno unscented shampoo/conditioner, and Aveeno oatmeal bath packets, Q-tips, saline solution, bulb syringe);
  • Comb + hair ties;
  • Toothbrush + toothpaste;
  • Fuzzy blanket;
  • Sweater;
  • Pillow.

Sean (3 years): 2 backpacks + large paper bag

  • Sleeping quarters: Child size inflatable bed;
  • Pillow;
  • Blanket;
  • Pajamas;
  • Night light;
  • 2 pairs of socks;
  • 2 shirts (for the inevitable mess);
  • 2 shorts (again, for the inevitable mess);
  • Pull-Ups;
  • Toddler toilet seat;
  • Toothbrush + toothpaste;
  • Sweater;
  • 1 small toddler-sized backpack filled with toys of his choice (Toy Story toys).

We’re trying something new. Usually, Allie cries and won’t nap when she’s put down at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I think because everything is different. We tried to make that less of an issue this time around with the lighted lullaby crib toy that we bought. It isn’t the same one she has in her room, but being able to turn on the light and hear the music may help soothe her.  Same thing with Sean and the night light.

So how did it turn out?

Allie slept fabulously! She liked having the crib toy — although I think she was miffed that it played different songs than the one she has at home. She also grabbed onto her familiar toys when I put her down for her nap and for the night — so those and her blanket also helped.

Sean napped great on his new inflatable bed. He thought it was very cool when we blew it up for nap time. When it came tome to go to bed for the night, however, he was confused. Normally, we leave for home at bedtime. It threw him off to be staying overnight. He came out of his room twice, and at the second time, he told me: “Mommy? I stay with you?”

So we cuddled for awhile, then set him up on the couch with his pillow and blanket. He fell asleep immediately. We stuck the inflatable bed on the floor right in front of the couch in case he rolled in the middle of the night. (He didn’t.) Then he slept until 7 a.m.

All in all, it was a success. One that can only improve with more sleepovers.

Not Just Chicken And Rice

((disclaimer: I wrote this about two months ago, during a cold spell. I took pictures of each step and meant to put them in here. Long story short, I can’t find the pictures. So, here it is.))

This week, I made a giant pot of comfort food. After Hubbs and I ate some for dinner, I shredded the leftover chicken, mixed it with the sauce, topped it with white rice, and placed it in the refrigerator so I could enjoy the glorious, delicious, heavenly, coma-comfort inducing leftovers all week.

The next night, I reheated some for the kids to try. Sean looked at it. Smelled it. Poked at it with his fork. Then declined to try it. Allie opened her mouth like the shark on a  Jaws poster and yelled “UM!” as I placed a spoonful in her mouth. As she chewed, her eyes lit up. She looked at me and smiled. Then yelled and signed “MORE!” as she tipped her head back with her mouth agape.

She ate all of it. Every last bite. And then she hugged me.

My daughter has discovered comfort food, and in my family, comfort food is beancake chicken.

What in the world is beancake — let alone beancake chicken?

This is beancake:

Officially, fermented bean curd. You know us Asians — always fermenting stuff. But hey, its delicious. Like TOFU. And kim chee. Trust us. Its delicious!

Anyway, note the color here. Light brown bean curds in a slightly reddish sauce. THAT is what is important. There’s all kinds of bean curd out there, red-hot fire (dark read sauce where you can barely see the bean curd) and so mild its practically tasteless (watery liquid around the curds, and definitely no red.)  So you’re looking for a jar that looks something like the picture on the right. I know, I’m so very helpful.

Now, what is beancake chicken? If you ask the Hubbs he’ll tell you:  “It’s just chicken and rice. It’s good, but I don’t know what the big deal is.” The big deal is that it’s home and love in a pot.

Its my grandmother’s house. Its my extended family eating our weekly dinner around a table with Chinese-language newspapers lining the middle for bones. Its laughing with my brother and cousins and sharing stories about our week, or cracking our grandmother up by all four of us spontaneously signing along to a phone commercial in Cantonese. Its us daring each other to eat the black fungus (aka wet afro in a bowl) on Chinese New Year. It’s my oldest cousin challenging my dad to a fried chicken eating contest and almost winning. Its my grandma peeling oranges and apples for dessert.

Its the meal I request whenever my mom asks me what she can make me for dinner. If I’m sick, not feeling good, or just need a hug, I make it. If I were on death row, it would be my last meal.

Its beancake chicken. And I’m sharing the recipe with you.

It’s also one of those “we don’t measure things” recipes, so bear with me.


  • Gallon-sized zippy bag
  • Soy sauce (1 cup? Probably more, just enough to cover the chicken in the bag.)
  • Garlic cloves – chopped (at least 4 cloves)
  • Ginger, chopped thick or grated (about 1/2 inch or 1 tsp) (optional)
  • Whiskey (1 cap full — as in the cap on the bottle. If you’ve got a Costco-sized cap, Mazel tov!)
  • Chicken (I like bone-in, skin on thighs. My grandma uses wings and drumsticks. You basically want dark meat for this, but IF you decide to use breasts — which I don’t recommend — go with bone-in, skin on. TRUST ME.)

Other Ingredients:

  • 5-7 Bean curd cubes from a jar, available at any Asian grocery store
  • Oil (maybe 2 TBSP) — any kind EXCEPT olive oil
  • Water
  • Cornstarch (optional)
  • Green onions (optional)


  1. Add all marinade ingredients to the bag, remove air, and seal. Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes. If you can get 2-3 hours in, that’s even better.  But no more than 3 hours. After 3 hours, you’re making soy-sauce chicken (see-yao gai), which is a completely different dish. Turn the bag over every so often to let the marinade soak into the chicken.
  2. Heat a big-ole pot (I use my gigantic Le Cruset cast iron pot) on medium-high and add the oil.
  3. Pull the chicken out of the marinade and place it skin-side down in the hot oil. (Reserve about 2 TBSP of marinade) When (notice I didn’t say if) you start to smell the soy sauce burning, add water to the pot, just enough to cover the bottom.
  4. Cook the chicken until just brown on the outside. You’re not looking for crispy, you’re looking for color. Flip the chicken.
  5. Mash 5-7 pieces of bean curd (and a bit of its sauce) in a bowl with about 1/2 cup of water until mostly smooth.
  6. Add bean curd water and about 2 TBSP of the marinade to the pot and then fill the pot with water until the chicken is just covered.
  7. Turn heat up to high until water boils.
  8. Once sauce is boiling, turn it back down to medium low, and let it do its thing, occasionally turning chicken. All you’re trying to do here is finish cooking the chicken and letting most of the water evaporate — thickening the sauce. (Turn on your rice in the rice cooker now.)
  9. When the meat starts falling off the bone, its ready. Maybe … 45 minutes to 1 hour. But you can go longer. On the weekends, I’ll start cooking at 5:30, but Hubbs and I don’t eat until after 8, when both kids are asleep. So instead of turning the heat to medium low after it boils, I just turn it to low and walk away. Still delicious.)
  10. Taste the sauce. Is it “oh my gawd that’s salty?” Add a cup of water and stir. You should be good now.
  11. If at this time, there’s still a ton of sauce in there (say, barely covering the chicken), stir 1 tsp cornstarch with some cold water until smooth and add it to the sauce to thicken. Let it boil for 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flavor.
  12. If you like green onions (Hubbs doesn’t), chop them up and add them the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Serve on a plate with a heaping scoop of white rice and lots of sauce. If you want the real experience, pull all the meat off the bone, mash it into bite-sized pieces, then mix it real good with the sauce and rice so its just one big pile of savory, salty, lick-your-lips goodness.


Bonus Recipe: Asian-style fried chicken.

Take that same marinade recipe and let the chicken go for 3 hours. And then …

  1. Preheat oven to 250 and place a foil-lined pan (with paper towels on top) in there.
  2. Heat a tall-sided pot of corn oil on medium.
  3. When oil is hot, add cornstarch to a zippy bag.
  4. Take chicken out of marinade, let excess sauce drip off, dredge in cornstarch.
  5. Put chicken in hot oil. (Carefully!)
  6. When its golden brown and crispy, pull it out and put it on the paper-towel lined pan in the oven to stay warm/finish cooking while you cook the rest of them.
  7. Serve with ketchup. YES, KETCHUP.

Also, to help you use up all that delicious bean curd … I present to you the way I got Hubbs to eat green beans:

Pwa-Pwa Green Beans (aka Green beans with bean curd and Bacon)

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and cut in half
  • 3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped,
  • 2 cubes bean curd, mashed in about 1/2 cup of water
  • water

You’re going to love this.

  1. Put your bacon in a hot pan and cook it until crispy. Remove bacon from pan to paper-lined plate. Try not to eat it/shoo spouse out of the kitchen before he can eat it.
  2. Drain all but 2 TBSP of bacon fat, reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Add your green beans and garlic, stirring as they get crispy.
  4. Add the bean curd water, mix, and put lid on pot, letting it steam for 3 minutes. (if not enough sauce, add more water.)
  5. When green beans are cooked (bright green), but still crispy, they’re done.

This goes great as a side dish to the fried chicken. Or anything, really.

Dear Immune System, I Give Up

“I effing hate you.”

This time it was me saying it. Hubbs gave me his plague: Sore throat, occasional cough. I gave him a golf clap. Well played sir, well played.

But it wasn’t just that. It turned into me choking on even the smallest sip of liquid — especially my own saliva. It felt like I was swallowing broken glass shards. And then I started to feel crackling, tingling in my ears. My lymph nodes were ridiculously swollen. I would be bent in half by body-convulsing coughs.

Urgent care says: Sinus infection with post-nasal drip. BAD sinus infection that is quickly turning into an ear infection. Solution: Heavy-duty antibiotics, cough syrup with codeine (yay!), and allergy nasal spray.

I’m finally starting to feel human again.

But I must have pissed off the fates. Because they weren’t done with me yet. Sean got the stomach flu on Tuesday — he threw up three times at day care, again in the car on the way to the doctor’s office, on the way home from the doctor’s office, and once more before he went to sleep that night. Allie came home with a raging fever.

Yesterday was a blur. A hellish blur. Both kids were cranky in the morning. Inconsolable. Wanting to cuddle. Wanting to sit by themselves. Sean was a complete paradox — inexplicably loving, huggable and cuddly one moment, raging toddler swinging haymakers the next. Everything was like the end of the world. The day dragged on in a tantrum haze.

Allie was more constant. She wanted two things: Mama and her binky. If she parted with one, it was instant waterworks, end of the world crying.

I need a nap just writing all that.

The good news is that the two monkeys are feeling better and that I have some photos to post next week.



Quarantined. Again.

Last week Allie had pink eye. And then she gave it to me.

This is something they never tell you when you’re pregnant or childless. You will use all of your sick time for people other than yourself. It is ridiculous how much. And really, those “sick” drop-in centers? You can send your kid when they have a cold. Not with the flu. Not with biohazard-level pink eye. So essentially USELESS.

But I digress.

Allie’s pink eye was “normal”, and after 48 hours of medication, she was looking and feeling completely fine and was officially no longer contagious. My version of pink eye was/is in a league of its own. It is nothing I had ever experienced as a kid. My eye turned bright red. The whites of my eyes swelled, at one point, it looked like I had a pus sack on my eyeball. (Hungry anyone? No? Me neither.)

When the doctor at the urgent care clinic leaned in to examine my eye on Sunday afternoon (just more than 3 hours after I started exhibiting symptoms), he recoiled. As in, cringing, backing away, making the sign of the cross, and draping garlands of garlic around his neck. He told me he had only seen cases as bad as mine “in books.” Then he washed his hands about four times before he left, despite never coming near me without gloves.

I called in sick on Monday because the eye was constantly streaming liquid/tears/mucous and my vision was cloudy to the point that I couldn’t drive. I essentially had no peripheral vision on my right side. I spent half the day on the couch somewhere between a doze and a coma.

One day later, it had spread to my left eye. Because while I slept, my right eye leaked so much that the snail trail got into my left eye. (Are you disgusted yet?) So here I am, day 5 of medication. My left eye is mostly normal. My right eye feels normal, except for the occasional itching, but it still looks like a freak show.  Two more days to go, and if my right eye isn’t normal, I get to go back for a re-check. I’ve spared my coworkers from the plague — I’ve worked from home all week.

Which brings me back to Wednesday, when the Hubbs woke me up to this endearment: “I $%*!-ing hate you.”

“What’d I do? I just woke up.”

After I put my glasses on, I saw. Pink eye. Its the gift that keeps on giving.

But Hubbs’ pink eye didn’t get better after getting eye drops from the doctor. It got worse. So today (Friday) I got to take him back to the urgent care clinic — because his eye is so bad he can barely see — and then to an optometrist, who said his case is viral. You see — Hubbs has a cold. And  the mucous in his nasal passages got into his eyes. So we treat the symptoms. He gets a light steroid eye drop, artificial tears, and a lot of rest.

I won’t go into the details of how bad his eye looks today except to say that:

  1. From across the room, it looks like someone punched him in the eye — its red, swollen, and angry-looking;
  2. Its WAY worse than mine.
  3. It kinda looks like a zombie eye. And its totally creepy.

In other news, we’re keeping the instant hand sanitizer companies in business.

Update: 1 dose of new medication down and he no longer looks like he got punched in the eye. Progress!


The pictures of pink eye on Google were highly disappointing. My eye was way grosser than anything I saw.


Perchance To Dream

Dear Science,

Is there anything you can do so I don’t have to sleep? My life would be so much easier if I could use those extra hours for something other than laying still in a bed. I would be infinitely more productive. And my house would be a lot cleaner.

So if you could hurry up and get on that, I’d appreciate it.


I am most productive after 10:30 p.m.

Why, do you ask? Because everyone else is asleep. There are no distractions. No kids pulling on my legs demanding juice or bread or French toast or eggs. No kids demanding that I carry them around (ahem, Allison) as I do whatever it is I’m trying to do — essentially making everything take twice as long because I’m short one hand. Because dinner has already been made and eaten and Hubbs isn’t asking when I’m going to be done already and come sit down to spend some time with him.

There is no guilt after 10:30.

I don’t feel like I’m neglecting anyone by pulling on the gloves and doing dishes. I’m not blocking anyone’s view of the TV while I clean up the living room. I’m not getting in anyone’s way if I go into a room five times for five different things, because I’m a spaz and my brain just works that way sometimes.

It’s quiet after 10:30.

I turn the TV off, and cut the lights except for the most necessary. Maybe open a window to hear the crickets chirping. The neighbors are all in bed, tucked away in their homes, lights out. Its dark on our street and no cars can be seen or heard.

The time after 10: 30 belongs to me.

Its the time I allow myself to daydream, to remember, and reflect. Sure, I usually do it with rubber gloves and a sink full of suds, but its my time nonetheless. Sometimes I have a cup of tea while I work, other times I’ll reheat a cup of coffee to help keep me moving. I can get mad about things after 10:30 without the repercussions of witnesses or taking it out on someone and go to bed calm. I can think of our lives and plan. Mentally work around obstacles.

And then fall into bed, exhausted.

Would I benefit from more sleep? Yes. Would I like more sleep? Yes. But I’d also like to not have to clean my house and for my side of the room to be less of a dumping ground (my fault entirely). But until cleaning fairies fly out of my posterior, its not going to happen.

One of these days, I’ll work exercise into that routine as well. As in soon. I just need to work out the logistics of it …


Well, on to Plan C …

It Means No Worries

Watching songs on YouTube is kind of like a national past time in our house. Both kids love it and demand it daily. And as parents, we’re forced to go through our memories — OK I’m probably the only one to do this — to find songs from children’s movies we think would amuse them.

Right now the monkey/King Louie song from “The Jungle Book” is a big hit with Allie. And the “I like to move it, move it” song from Madagascar is guaranteed to get the two of them dancing. (I really need to record them.) But probably No. 1 on our list these days are from The Lion King.

“Circle of Life” is a slam dunk because of all the animals it shows. The kids care less about the song and more about identifying the different animals popping up on the screen. But “Hakuna Matata” is different. It’s catchy, has easily regurgitated lyrics, and has a warthog that farts.

It’s toddler gold.

Sean’s favorite part is when Simba, Timon, and Pumba are walking across the log singing “Hakuna matata” endlessly, wagging their heads from side-to-side as the movie shows the passage of time and Simba growing up. He usually bobs his head in such an exaggerated way that its a small miracle he hasn’t whacked his melon against a wall or the desk or his sister.

I snuck up on him the other day when I heard him singing. And so now you get to see it too.

I crack up every time he says “philosophy.”

Now I have to get him singing/dancing to “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” — the Spanish version!