If you own a car and intend for your baby to travel in it, you need to purchase a baby car seat. Holding your baby on your lap is dangerous at best and fatal at worst. By Australian law, not to mention the comfort and safety of both yourself and your child, you need to have your baby properly restrained in a baby car seat whenever travelling in a vehicle.
Statistically, the use of a child car seat reduces the rate of injury in an accident by 71-82%, and the rate of death by 28%.
How does a car seat work? Secured properly to the seat of your car, the body of the car seat will protect your baby from impact and the secure straps properly position and restrain your baby and distribute the force evenly in the event of a collision.
Whilst all baby car seats sold in Australia will meet strict safety standards, there are so many other considerations – comfort, ease of use, additional safety features, versatility, size, weight, aesthetics to name a few – meaning that some baby car seats will suit your needs and budget, over others.
As an essential item, there are many, many baby car seats on the market. In this article we help you make sense of it all by reviewing our top 10 baby car seats currently available in Australia with our handy buying guide.
The baby car seats we have reviewed have been chosen for their safety, comfort and compatibility with most Australian cars. Before we review the baby car seats, we will first go through the important things you should know when considering baby car seats.
How to choose a baby car seat
Before you choose a car seat for your newborn or toddler, you need to know the differences between the types available.
- Baby capsule. Designed for infants typically aged 0-6 months, baby capsules are installed in a rear facing position only. With a simple click they can be removed from the vehicle and allow you to use the capsule as a carrier or attach to your compatible pram or stroller. Capsules can make your life considerably easier in the early months of parenthood as you can easily move baby from car to stroller and back again without disturbing them or waking them up. However, capsules have a short lifetime before baby outgrows them.
- Convertible car seat. The most common type, convertible car seats convert from a rear to forwardfacing car seat as your child grows. Unlike the capsule, they cannot be removed from the vehicle for carrying or attaching to your stroller. Suitable age range varies between the many models, and are available in 0-4 years, 6 months-8 years or 0-8 years.
- Booster seat. Once your child outgrows his car seat, typically around 4 years old, it’s time to graduate to a booster seat. These seats are forward facing and are used either with your car’s seat belt or its own harness.
Comfort. You want your baby to always be comfortable when using their car seat. The seat should be covered with a soft, moisture wicking fabric and thick cushion to provide comfort throughout the journey. The straps and buckles should be easily adjustable to provide a secure fit. Shoulder and crotch pads covering the straps provide additional cushioning.
Age limit. The age limit will guide you as to how long the car seat will be suitable for your baby. Whilst baby capsules have a short lifespan of around six months, convertible car seats are more versatile and can be used for several years, usually representing the best value for money.
Height limit. All car seats sold in Australia are clearly fitted with height markers. Once your baby’s shoulders reach the markers, it’s time to move your baby to the next seat, or swap your seat from rear to forward facing position.
Safety. Whilst all infant car seats sold in Australia comply with strict safety standards and are safe to use, there are many additional features available to enhance safety. Terms and features to look out for are Air Cocoon, Side Impact Cushion Technology, 6 point harness and secure harness adjustment.
Installation and ISOFIX. If your car is fitted with ISOFIX anchors (check your user manual if unsure), a car seat with an ISOFIX installation system will make correct installation a breeze by simply clipping into place. Older models of cars without ISOFIX anchors will use the existing seatbelt to pass through the baby seat to secure. Both options are just as safe if installed correctly; always carefully follow the instructions that come with your car seat.
Easy fitting. The smaller the car, the smaller the available space for a car seat, so consider the size of both the car and the car seat when making your decision. Consider depth as well as width and note that capsules and rear facing car seats use more depth space than forward facing seats.
Stroller compatibility. Baby capsules only can click in and out of compatible strollers for easy transfers from car to stroller. Check that your stroller is compatible with your capsule. In some cases you may need to buy adapters in order to connect the capsule to the stroller.
Adjustable features. The car seat and its harness should adapt to your child as they grow so you can avoid buying a new car seat every year. Consider models that feature single handed buckles, adjustable headrest and straps, and removable cushions for ease of use.
Cleaning. Young children are messy! Look for a car seat that is easy to clean – easy wipe surfaces and easily removable, machine washable covers are ideal.
With all this in mind, let’s announce the best rated car seats on the market this year for new Australian families. The following baby car seats all meet Australian standards and have been carefully chosen for their quality and features.
1. InfaSecure Quattro Astra
The best convertible baby car seat in Australia
The InfaSecure Quattro Astra is an excellent choice if you are after a convertible model suitable for your newborn right up to four years old, and our top pick!
Being one of the narrowest car seats on the market today (just 420mm at its widest point) whilst still retaining superior safety, it’s suitable for your compact car and for fitting multiple baby car seats in the one vehicle.
Enjoy maximum leg room in the front seat as it also boasts ultra compact rearward facing depth. Extended rearward facing makes this seat ideal for babies up to around 30 months, the safest position for a baby travelling in a car.
This seat uses Air Cocoon Technology which uses a blow moulding design for superior side impact protection despite its compact size and its machine washable, press stud removable covers makes cleaning a breeze.
2. Britax Safe N Sound Millenia
Versatile 0-4 convertible car seat
Britax Safe N Sound Millenia SICT is super versatile with ISOFIX connectors for a fast and secure connection to your compatible vehicle. We love the optional extended rearward facing feature and its one step, one handed headrest and harness adjustment that can be easily adjusted in seconds.
Its advanced safety features include Side Impact Cushion Technology for outstanding 180 degree head protection for your baby.
Easy clean, Thermo5 high performance fabric with Bamboo Charcoal provides exceptionally soft, moisture wicking comfort and the removable Infant Safety Cushion provides even more support and comfort to your infant whilst also helping to absorb extra impact.
3. InfaSecure Luxi II Astra
The all-in-one solution from 0 to 8
If you want just one quality car seat that will see you through all the way from newborn to 8 years, you can’t go past the InfaSecure Luxi II Astra.
It’s an upgraded redesign of the original Luxi baby car seat, you can use it as a rearward facing seat for your newborn, convert to a forward facing seat at 12 months, and finally convert to a booster seat at 4 years.
Its inbuilt 6-point harness adjusts easily to suit your child as they grow and enjoy complete comfort with 9 levels of recline.
Press stud, machine washable seat covers feature breathable Thermo5 high performance fabric to ensure it lasts the distance.
Thanks to Side Impact Cushion Technology, your baby will be protected with airbag-like torso protection and dual layer head protection heavily reduces the impact in a side impact collision. We also love the very useful harness holders to get your child in and out of the seat quickly and easily.
4. Britax Safe N Sound Maxi Guard Pro
Forward facing baby car seat with plenty of safety features
The Britax Safe N Sound Maxi Guard Pro is a forward facing baby car seat featuring an inbuilt harness to adapt to your growing child, suitable for children aged between 6 months and 8 years and is a great choice for when your baby grows out of their baby capsule.
This car seat features Britax’s signature Thermo5 high performance fabric with Bamboo Charcoal for moisture wicking and long lasting comfort and a 6 point harness to keep your child securely and comfortably restrained.
Know that your child is safe with Side Impact Cushion Technology, which minimises impact in the event of a side collision, and Active Head Restraint (AHR) with deep side wings for superior protection of the head.
Harness holders make light work of getting your squirming child in and out of their car seat and we love the Hassle Free Harness adjust the harness and headrest height within seconds.
5. MAXI COSI Moda
Our choice for best value for money
Maxi Cosi is one of the most popular brands for baby car seats in Australia and is popular with parents for its quality, style and usability.
Maxi Cosi Moda is our top pick for value for money. A convertible baby car seat, it offers extended rearward facing for children up to 30 months before converting to the forward facing position for children up to 4 years.
Next Generation Crash Absorbing Technology offers enhanced full body protection and Cool Baby moisture wicking material keeps baby cool and comfortable throughout our hot summers.
It comes as a complete package including removable infant insert, easy to clean machine washable cover, padded belt mates and ultra useful car seat protector mat to save your car’s upholstery from wear and tear. For peace of mind, enjoy a 10 year warranty for hardware and a 3 year warranty for fabrics.
6. MAXI COSI Mico Plus
A convenient baby capsule for newborns
The Maxi Cosi Mico Plus is a firm favourite for Australian families and one of the top rated car seats in Australia. Although only suitable for newborns up to the age of 6 months, what it lacks in lifespan it makes up for with safety, features and of course convenience.
Compatible with many popular stroller brands, simply click your baby out of the car and into the stroller and back again without waking them – invaluable during those first few months!
Cushioned Air Protect Side Impact Protection provides comfortable safety for your baby’s head and 2 position crotch buckle adjusters ensure the perfect fit. It also features an adjustable handlebar for easy carrying and a multi-position, water resistant sun canopy to provide shelter from the elements, whatever the weather. Unique to this capsule are no fuss magnetic harness holders, so easy to use at a time when ease of use really matters.
7. Safety 1st Summit 30
Convertible car seat for newborns and toddlers
The Safety 1st Summit 30 converts easily to suit your newborn right up to 4 years. Its inserts and harness pads are easy to remove and clean and feature Natural Antibacterial Protection.
It also features a one handed, 3 position recline, 5 position headrest with automatic harness adjustment and soft latch ISOFIX connectors; this seat is designed for easy use and maintenance and is why it’s one of our favourites.
Each car seat also includes a free accident exchange service – if it is damaged in an accident, it will be replaced for free (conditions apply) – as well as a 6 year warranty for the hardware and 2 years for the fabrics, so you know it will last the distance.
8. Baby Jogger City Go Baby Capsule
Lightweight baby capsule for the travelling family
This is a cost effective capsule that attaches easily and securely to your Baby Jogger pram to create the perfect travel system. Approved for use not only in cars, but also for aircraft use, it’s a fantastic option if you’re planning on travelling by plane in the early months.
Its 6 position adjustable base is easily installed in any vehicle either by ISOFIX or seatbelt, perfect for rentals. Its large UPF 50+ canopy provides outstanding sun protection.
Use this capsule for longer as it’s suitable for infants up to the approximate age of 12 months.
9. MAXI COSI Vela Slim
An excellent, cost effective option for small cars
Perfect for a small car, this convertible car seat features a “Cool Baby” moisture wicking material with bamboo, keeping baby cool and comfortable year round.
One of the slimmest car seats, it fits easily into smaller cars and features Maxi Cosi’s patented ISOFIX compatible system, ISOGO, with a quick, foolproof 3 step installation.
3 recline base positions ensure the perfect fit no matter the shape of your car seat and the headrest adjusts to 5 different height positions. Its machine washable cover is easy to remove as well as put back on and the included car seat protector mat protects your car’s upholstery.
10. MAXI COSI Citi Newborn Baby Capsule
Affordable baby capsule for easy carrying
If you are searching for the most lightweight infant capsule, Maxi Cosi Citi Newborn Capsule will be an ideal choice. It weighs 3.2kgs and comes with a stay-in-car base for easier installation.
It’s compatible with the most popular stroller brands, allowing you to create a convenient travel system for your family. However, the stroller adapters are purchased separately.
It is a good option for your newborn to approximately 6 months old. It features an ergonomic handlebar which makes it easy to carry. In addition, there is a convenient pull up hood which has UPF 50+ rating which protects baby from direct sunlight. A removable padded infant insert is also included to enhance comfort.
In terms of cleaning, the materials used in this seat are machine washable. This seat comes with a 10 years warranty for the hardware and 3 years warranty for the fabric.
How to install a baby car seat
Baby car seats come with a detailed user guide which you should follow carefully in order to properly install it in your car.
Rear facing installation
- Babies under the age of six months must, by Australian law, only be restrained in a rear facing position. It should be installed in the rear seat of your vehicle, facing the rear window.
- Ensure that the seat belt passes through the correct path and is buckled in with no slack or twists, or for an ISOFIX car seat, that it is correctly clipped in. The tether strap should be secured to the correct anchorage point with no slack or twists.
- Try to move the seat to ensure as little movement as possible.
- Authorised fitters can install the seat correctly for you if you are unsure. There will be a nominal fee associated with this.
- Some local councils offer periodic car seat installation services free of charge; contact your local council for information.
- The car seat should be installed in the rear seat of your vehicle, facing the front windscreen.The back of the car seat should sit snugly against the back cushion of your car’s seat.
- Ensure that the seat belt passes through the correct path and is buckled in with no slack or twists, or for an ISOFIX car seat, that it is correctly clipped in.
- The lap belt should not move across your child’s tummy.
- Check that your child is comfortable.
What are the risks of buying a used baby car seat?
Baby car seats can be expensive, and purchasing one second hand will save you money, but this can be a dangerous mistake. Unless it is from someone you know and trust, you can’t be sure of its history, and whether or not it has previously been in an accident or has otherwise been damaged.