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15 February, 2021

7 of the Best Baby Car Seats in Australia in 2021

A car seat is one of the most essential purchases you'll make for your new baby. Like with a pram or cot, there are safety standards attached to purchasing a car seat, and it's important that you do your research, read reviews and compare products before making your choice.

Also like with baby cots and prams, there are many to choose from on the market. It can all seem a little overwhelming when it comes time to make a choice.

Australian child car seats: the law

To travel in your car, your child needs either a rear-facing child car seat, forward-facing child car seat, booster seat or adult seatbelt.

The child car seat must:

  • be appropriate for your child’s size
  • be correctly installed in your car
  • be properly fastened and adjusted to fit your child
  • meet Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754.

The minimum legal requirements for using child car seats in Australia are based on age:

  • Children under six months must use a rear-facing child car seat with an inbuilt harness.
  • Children aged six months up to four years must use a rear-facing or forward-facing child car seat with an inbuilt harness.
  • Children aged four years up to seven years must use a forward-facing child car seat with an inbuilt harness or a booster seat with an adult lap-sash seatbelt or child safety harness.
  • Children aged seven years and older must use a booster seat with an adult lap-sash seatbelt or child safety harness, or a standard seat with an adult seatbelt.

It’s always safest to keep your child in the car seat that’s most appropriate for your child’s size, regardless of age. Therefore, the law also allows for the following:

  • Children who are too small for the car seat that’s specified for their age group can stay in their current seat until they grow into the seat for the next age group.
  • Children who are too big for the child car seat that’s specified for their age can move to the seat specified for the next age group.

The shoulder height markers on car seats show when your child is big enough to start using a particular car seat, when you can convert the seat to the next use, and when your child is too big for the seat. If you want advice about moving your child into a different car seat, it’s a good idea to ask your child and family health nurse or another professional.

What should you look for when buying a newborn car seat?

When it comes to choosing a car seat for your newborn baby, there are several things to take into consideration. The first and most important is safety and stability of the car seat. You also need to make sure the seat is compatible with your car. Another thing to consider is the age range in which the baby car seat caters to.

- Safety

Safety is the most important functionality of a car seat, and should be considered long before look and feel. It is also imperative that the car seat chosen complies with Australian/New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 1754. Be sure to check the safety rating of your car seat before purchasing. It's also imperative that you ensure your baby car seat is brand new, so that you can attest to the structural integrity of the car seat being in tact. It can't always certain that a second-hand car seat has not been involved in a previous car accident, and this could be detrimental to the integrity of the car seat's structure if it was to be involved in another accident.

It's also integral that you read the car seat's manual and adhere to the shoulder strap height restrictions, altering them as your child grows.

- Comfort

When looking for a baby car seat, comfort should be taken into consideration. You should try and choose a car seat made from breathable fabric and with sufficient padding. Most baby car seats come with a removable cushion liner to both make the seat fit a smaller child, and provide an extra later of cushioning around the legs and back. It's also worth checking if the baby car seat head rests are sufficiently cushioned in case your child falls asleep, and in the case of an accident.

- Isofix capability

Most new cars come with Isofix capability, meaning that a car seat can simply be plugged in to the Isofix fixture. When choosing a car seat, it's important to discover what kind of fixtures are needed to secure your car seat, and whether your car is compatible. Isofix technology works in place of conventional seatbelt strapping to keep your car seat in place.

Baby car seat features to consider:

- Harness padding

Often car seat straps are pulled very tight to ensure baby isn't at risk during the car ride. For this reason, strap cushioning is important to ensure the harness straps don't dig in to baby's chest.

- Seat protector

A seat protector isn't an essential part of buying a car seat, but when a car seat is going to be attached to your car for a number of years, it can be helpful to place a seat liner between the car seat and the baby seat as a way of protecting the car. This is normally installed at the same time as the car seat.

- Professional installation

Professional installation of a baby car seat is not essential, but strongly recommended, as they can ensure that the car seat is fitted correctly, and less likely to be damaged in a car accident. They can also provide a demonstration of how to place baby in and out of the car safely.

The 7 best car seats in Australia in 2021:

1. Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia™, RRP: $499.00

Britax® Safe-n-Sound®’s Millenia™ offers advanced safety features. Designed with dual layer revolutionary Side Impact Cushion Technology™ (SICT™) providing your child the ultimate side impact protection. Thermo5® high performance fabric with Bamboo Charcoal means your child will travel in quality and comfort.

REAR FACING FOR LONGER
Your child can remain rearward facing until they are approximately 2-3 years old, which is safer for your child.

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, whilst the outer SICT™ layer on the seat exterior absorbs immediate crash energy.

ISOFIX COMPATIBLE
ISOFLEX™ connectors allow for installation to vehicles with ISOFIX low anchorages. ISOFIX use ensures an easier installation, correct fit and a safer journey every time.

AIRCRAFT COMPATIBLE
Suitable for forward facing use.

ACTIVE HEAD RESTRAINT™ (AHR™)
Designed specifically with deeper side wings that shield and contain your child’s head in a side impact crash. AHR™ grows with your child working with SICT™ to contain your child’s head and to minimise impact forces.

THERMO5® HIGH PERFORMANCE FABRIC 
Thermo5® High Performance fabric with Bamboo Charcoal delivers the premium comfort your child deserves.

HASSLE FREE HARNESS™
Single handed height adjustable headrest and harness allows the seat to grow with your child, reducing the risk of incorrect installation and enhancing correct harness fit.

FLEXI INFANT SAFETY CUSHION™ 
This cushion includes EVA composite material that provides support and protection for a small baby absorbing energy during a side impact crash.

EZ-BUCKLE™
Retains the harness buckle in a forward position and prevents the child from sitting on the buckle when boarding.

Real review: MariaM, productreview.com.au

"We purchased this car seat for our first baby and so far so great! It meets all the australian standards in safety, we use it since he was born so little, the pads on it make it fit perfectly, we removed them as he was growing and there are red lines on the back that tells you when to stretch the back to fit the seat belt perfectly, so comfy and has pockets for a drink bottle and snacks, we love Britax!"

2. Maxi-Cosi Vita Smart Convertible Car Seat, RRP: $549.00

The Vita Smart convertible car seat offers lifesaving technology with superior comfort features for children from birth to 4 years of age. Vita Smart features our new Safety Shield technology, which offers tailored and patented, Air Protect and G-CELL head and torso protection whilst being Australia’s most compact rearward facing car seat at 540mm depth.

  • Safety Shield, Dual Action Protection, offering superior head and torso protection.
  • Air ProtectTM superior side impct protection, featuring NEW compact design formula
  • NEW compact G-CELL design for improved safety and ease of installation.
  • Compact rearward facing car seat @540mm depth.
  • Large seating depth for superior child comfort for older ages.
  • Fitted with ISOGO for easy installation, NEW smart and compact ISOGO storage.
  • Rearward facing to 30months approximately (maximum height marker 390mm)
  • Forward facing to 4 years of age approximately (maximum height marker of 435mm)
  • Anti Twist harness strap guides.
  • Modular Infant Insert: Offering superior comfort for newborns with 'Cool Baby' wicking fabric.
  • 3D Mesh for added pressure support and airflow.
  • 8 position headrest, and built in harness adjustment.
  • Easy 3 posititon forward-facing seat recline.
  • Built in rebound bar for simple quick seat installation.
  • Removeable and machine washable seat covers.
  • Easy-Out Magnetic Harness Holders to aid simple and safe use of harness.

Perfect for:

Those with a smaller car looking for maximum safety and comfort.

3. Infasecure Achieve Premium Car Seat - Birth to 8 years old, RRP: $789.99

Achieve Premium is the next evolution of our groundbreaking Birth to Eight Years Type A4/G Convertible Car Seat. It allows for Extended Rearward Facing up to a large 30-month-old, and Forward Facing with an internal harness to a large 8-year-old. Offering the absolute best practice safety to a child through all stages of their development, it’s the only restraint you’ll ever need.

Premium Materials and Comfort; Active Bamboo™
Achieve Premium features our new Active Bamboo™ covers. Active Bamboo™ is a high performance, premium quality bamboo charcoal fabric. The gently woven yarn wicks away moisture, keeping your child cool and dry whilst offering a soft, smooth surface ensuring your child travels in complete comfort. Also, we’ve completely redesigned the covers, utilising the highest levels of craftsmanship, and the new modular infant insert offers support and comfort to smaller babies.

FEATURES

Suitable from birth to large 8-year-old
Extended Rearward Facing to large 30-month-old
Extended Forward Facing with an internal harness to large 8-year-old
Ultra-compact width – great for 3 across
Secur-air™ –  Triple Layer Crash Protection
Air Cocoon Techology™ (A.C.T.) integrated
Active Bamboo™ – high performance, premium quality bamboo charcoal fabric
Available in 2 modern colours
Twist & Lift™ – One-handed headrest & harness adjustment
Press-Stud attached cover – remove without uninstalling
Easy remove shoulder pads
Twist-resistant shoulder straps
Adjustable crotch buckle
New design infant insert
9 recline positions
Easy install belt path
Tether Strap Adjuster ‘Safety Zone’
No anti-rebound bar required
Ultra low profile base
SafeGrip Belt Clamp included
Vehicle seat protector included

Real review: KerryS, productreview.com.au

"Wow! This seat is amazing! 9 recline setting making it the best ff seat in the market, beautiful soft bamboo fabric so no more sweaty backs, easy to use twist and lift headrest, easy to remove covers to wash. Really deep seat so lots of leg room for rf toddlers! Highly recommend!! Best seat in the market!!"

4. Mother’s Choice Shine Convertible Car Seat, $279.00

The Shine Convertible Car Seat is suitable from birth to 4 years of age. It has a cosy newborn insert providing extra comfort for your newborn. With a built in rebound bar and one handed recline this convertible car seat is easy to install and easy to use. • Easy, one handed 3 position forward-facing recline
• One step, easy base setup for rearward-facing installation with built-in rebound bar
• Soft infant insert and head pillow for newborn to be used from 0 to approx. 6 months
• Crotch buckle and harness pads for added comfort
• Removable and machine washable covers
• 2 year warranty on the covers and 6 years on the hardware

Real review: Alice7, target.com.au

"Love our new purchase! Washable covers (perfect for those messy moments), and it’s relatively light! Easy to install, looks nice and I know our baby will be safe and comfortable.
I love that it’s convertible up to 4 years. The safety harness is also easy to do up."

5. Baby Love Cosmic II Convertible Car Seat, RRP: $199.00

Combined with safety technology and the latest in fashion designs and accessories, Cosmic II™ is the revolutionary choice. It’s compact size enables three restraints to fit in the back seat making it perfect for smaller cars.

Features

• Rear Facing
Suitable from birth to 12 months
• Padded Insert
The padded insert and head snuggler provides added protection
• Shoulder Pads
For added comfort for your child
• 4 Slot Harness Position
For your growing child
• 2 Recline Postitions
For your child’s comfort whilst sleeping
• Deep Side Wings
Providing additional protection in a side impact crash
• Included Accessories
The Cosmic II™ comes with a padded insert and shoulder pads

Real review: Becky18, productreview.com.au

"We got the set professionally installed but it was easy to do, baby loves the seat and we love the fact he can rear face until 12 months in this one. Bub seems very comfortable, not sure if it’s reflective of the seat but he falls asleep every time in the car! We’ve only had the seat for 8 moths but so far so good! I would definitely recommend! Price point is good too!"

6. Safety 1st Summit ISO 30 Convertible Car Seat, RRP: $429.00

The best selling Summit convertible car seat from Safety 1st can now support rearward facing up to 30 months. The summit ISO 30 boasts all the same features as the original Summit range, packed with innovation for safety and ease of use.

  • Extended Rearward facing to approximately 30 months (ERF).
  • ISOGO™ ISOFIX compatible soft latch system for simple and secure car installation.
  • Air Protect Superior Side Impact Protection.
  • Removable infant insert and garness pads featuring Natural Antibacterial Protection ®
  • Easy one handed, 3 position recline for child's comfort.
  • Inbuilt rebound bar design.
  • FREE Accident Exchange service.
  • 5 position headrest, with automatic harness slot change for easy in-car height adjustment.
  • Multi-functional utility straps.

Real review: Bexilly, productreview.com.au

"We got this seat after having used a capsule for her the 7 months. There is an infant insert inside which we have removed & it has made it way more comfortable for her. She would have been too squished if we hadn’t removed it. The straps are easy to use - they undo and extend so easily. I have used the height adjustment with ease too. We had the Maxi cosy basic capsule so this feels like a bit of an upgrade as the straps are easier to undo & tighten."

7. Infasecure Attain Premium Car Seat - Birth to 4 years old, RRP: $709.99

Attain Premium takes all of the incredible Premium Range features and packages them up into our slimmest child restraint. With Extended Rearward Facing to 30 months, and Forward Facing to a large 4-year-old, it’s a very little child restraint, but a very big deal.

Measuring an incredibly narrow 420mm approx. across at its widest point in both Rearward and Forward Facing modes, Attain is our narrowest child restraint with an in-built harness on the market to date. Not only is it narrow across, but it also features an ultra-compact Rearward Facing depth, which is great for smaller vehicles (or taller front seat travellers!).

FEATURES

– Extended Rearward Facing to large 30-month-old
– Forward Facing with an internal harness to large 4-year-old
– Ultra compact width – great for 3 across
– Ultra compact Rearward Facing depth – great for small vehicles
– Secur-air™ – Triple Layer Crash Protection
– Air Cocoon Technology™ integrated
– Active Bamboo™ – high performance, premium quality bamboo charcoal fabric
– Available in 2 modern colours
– Twist & Lift™ one-handed headrest & harness adjustment
– Press-Stud attached cover – remove without uninstalling
– Easy to remove shoulder pads
– Twist-Resistant shoulder straps
– Height adjustable crotch buckle
– New modular design Infant Insert
– 9 recline positions
– Easy install belt path
– Tether Strap Adjuster ‘Safety Zone’
– No anti-rebound bar required
– Ultra low profile base
– Vehicle seat protector included
– SafeGrip Belt Clamp included

Real review: Lee, amazon.com.au

"The Attain Premium is a quality of life child seat, that is quality of life for the parents.
Two motion belt height adjustment (just twist and lift, no re-routing belts)
Significant cushioning customisation options for the ideal fit.
Intuitive belt tightening and loosening, it’ll become muscle memory in days.
Outstanding stability in the car and easily accessible belt routing for the non-IsoFIX fitment

Finally, those belt holders for when the seatbelts are undone are a godsend, keeps the belts stretched out on the sides, o fishing for the belt behind baby after you put them in!

We have two Attains running side by side and they’ve allowed sufficient space for both driver and passenger seat position. Tested in Honda Civic Type R (2019) & Skoda Karoq (2020)"

Still confused? No problem

Want to see the best of prams in Australia up close? Come to our next Sydney baby expo or Melbourne baby expo by visiting our Sydney baby fair page here or our Melbourne baby fair page here.

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