Your baby’s safety is a priority and a car seat is essential for this when you’re driving. Choosing the right car seat isn’t something to take lightly. It must be done in good time before your baby is born; after all, his very first journey will take him from the hospital to his new home.
You will find dozens of different types and models available on the Australian market, and this can be overwhelming. We’ve designed this guide to help you find the best options and choose the seat that’s best for your child and yourself.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best car seats in the market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about car seats
- 4 Shopping Guide
- 5 Summary
- Car seat categories are tailored to the size and weight of your baby. You should look for a durable high-quality car seat that can grow with your child.
- Car seat regulations are frequently updated. It is naturally important for you to take them into account when making your purchase.
- While you find models that adapt to all stages of your child’s growth, remember that these products eventually wear out. Materials deteriorate over time, and you may very well have to buy more than one.
Ranking: The best car seats in the market
We’ve compiled the best car seats you can find on the Australian market. This section was designed to help you find which car seat is right for your baby. You’ll also discover our best tips to help your child travel the most comfortably possible.
No. 1: Maxi-Cosi Vela Convertible Car Seat[amazon box=”B07771Z3YV” description_items=”0″]
Maxi-Cosi is an industry leader, and it’s no wonder their Vela model has become Amazon’s Choice in the car seat category. Its versatility in orientation means you can use it facing rear until the age of 6 months as per law, and later decide which way your child will be facing until he outgrows it. The car seat can be installed with the Isofix anchorage system or with the safety belt.
The quality of the Maxi-Cosi brand is very good and can last up to 10 years, even under continuous use; this is particularly useful when you have several children in a row. The wicking fabric keeps your baby cool at all times, while the Air Protect™ Superior Side Impact Protection efficiently protects your child from side impacts. This car seat is a solid investment for your children’s safety.
No. 2: Safety 1st Apex Booster Seat[amazon box=”B0776ZJ7MW” description_items=”0″]
Also equipped with the Air Protect™ Superior Side Impact Protection, this car seat is the creation of another industry leader, Safety 1st. Tailored for children aged 4 to 8, its adjustable headrest is perfect to keep your child safe for years to come. Weighing in at only 4.8 kilos, this forward-facing car seat is lightweight yet sturdy.
Customers particularly praise the value for money of this car seat, also stating is is easy to install and comfortable for their kids. Note that the narrow design may become tight for older children. The cover of this product is machine washable. Safety 1st offers 6 years of warranty on the hardware and 2 years on the fabric.
No. 3: Maxi-Cosi Mico Newborn Baby Capsule[amazon box=”B0784CVTK2″ description_items=”0″]
Maxi-Cosi’s baby capsule is a perfect car seat for newborns up to the age of 6 months. As other products on this top 3, it is equipped with the Air Protect™ Superior Side Impact Protection to best protect your baby. An attractive feature of this baby capsule is its versatility: lock it in the car base included, then remove it and carry it by hand or slip it in your compatible stroller.
The sun canopy offers an added UPF 50+ sun protection for your baby. The fabrics are easily removed for easy washing. All Maxi-Cosi car seats come with a 10-year warranty on the hardware and 3-year warranty on the fabric. Note that this product does not come with an Isofix stay-in-car base, which can be purchased separately.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about car seats
There are several factors you’ll have to consider before buying your car seat. The age and size of your child, as well as the type of routine trips you have, will play a part in your decision. We created this section to address the most frequently asked questions of parents who have had to make this purchase.
Are there any regulations concerning car seats?
Yes! The latest Australian and New Zealand regulation for car seats, the AS/NZS 1754, has been in force since 2014. If you want more comprehensive information regarding the requirements for child car seats in Australia, we recommend that you read the Consumer Protection Notice no. 3 of 2014.
We recommend that you adapt to new regulation to avoid future problems. Here are the most important rules you should respect:
- Compulsory use: Children under the age of 7 must use a car seat.
- Direction of the seat: Infants up to 6 months of age must travel in the opposite direction of driving, their backs turned to the front. Why, you ask? Because babies’ necks are not fully developed and are exposed to serious injury in the event of sudden braking.
- Anchorage system: Your car should have Isofix, an international standard anchorage system for children’s seats. It consists of two attachment points between the seat and the backrest. All cars manufactured from 2014 onwards integrate Isofix technology.
Don’t worry if you’ve already purchased a seat that doesn’t comply with the AS/NZS 1754 standard: you don’t actually have to buy a new one just yet. When you do buy one in the future – especially if you plan on using it for years to come – remember to choose a model that complies with the latest regulations.
Will I only have to buy one car seat for my child?
No, you’ll have to change seats as your child grows. In Australia, car seats are defined according to the age and/or height of the child:
- Rear-facing seat with inbuilt harness for children up to 6 months of age
- Front or rear-facing seat with inbuilt harness for children aged 6 months to 4 years
- All children must use an appropriate car seat until they reach 145 cm in height
According to Product Safety Australia, you can find eight different types of child car restraints under the mandatory standards in Australia. Each model is designed for a specific age range or height, and some types are also combined.
The following table shows the different types of car seats:
|Type A||Rearward-facing or transversely installed restraint with a harness (8 variations)|
|Type B||Forward-facing chair with harness|
|Type C||Forward-facing harness used with a booster seat without a chair (2 variations)|
|Type D||Rearward-facing chair with harness|
|Type E||Booster seat used in conjunction with a lap-sash seatbelt suitable for children less than 128 cm in height|
|Type F||Booster seat used in conjunction with a lap-sash seatbelt suitable for children less than 138 cm in height|
|Type G||Forward-facing chair with harness|
|Type H||Converter used with a booster seat or with a seatbelt without a booster|
Can I buy a second-hand car seat?
You can, but we strongly encourage you to buy new products because second-hand car seats can present certain risks. These products actually have an expiry date: they can generally be used up to 10 years after the date of manufacture.
However, their useful life can expire before that date. Why is that?
- Wear and tear: Car seat materials wear away with long-term use. Most models are made with a plastic frame, which is a material that degrades over time. On the other hand, the metal parts can rust with moisture, while the harness holding the baby also wears out due to friction and washing.
- Unnoticeable damages: Even if a seat appears to be in good condition, it may have small damages that make it less effective. Car seats have small parts that can be lost with use and transportation. If you don’t know where the product comes from, you won’t know if it was involved in an accident. This is important because the impact of a collision can internally crack the chair.
- New norms: We have already mentioned that there are regularly new and stricter rules. Until recently, car seats were manufactured according to previous, now outdated regulations. Second-hand car seats may not necessarily have the Isofix anchorage system.
How do I set my child’s car seat?
Setting up a car seat can be quite overwhelming for many parents. Older methods that used the seat belt were much harder to install. However, here are some good news for you: the Isofix system considerably reduces this problem.
This video explains how to set up most of these car seats:
You’ll have to take several factors into account to choose the best car seat for your baby. Needs vary depending on the parents and their babies, so here are some criteria you should take into account before making your final decision:
- Anchorage system
- Ages of use
Car seats were solely designed to keep children safe. This is why we recommend you to choose a model that has been evaluated by Child Car Seats. This Australian initiative presents a large and very detailed comparison list covering all ages and size groups, and it is regularly updated. Make sure to check their website!
You’ll still find many car seats on the Australian market that don’t come with the Isofix system. If your car does include this system, we strongly encourage you to opt for an Isofix model. While they tend to be more expensive, these products also offer a much higher degree of safety; as we mentioned before, they are also much easier to set up in your vehicle.
If you often take the car with your child, he will spend a lot of time in this car seat, and you want him to feel as comfortable as possible in it. We recommend you to opt for soft and breathable fabric and cushion paddings. The seat you buy should also allow your child to recline his head backwards for a better sleeping position.
Ages of use
As you now know, certain car seat models actually cover different age ranges. Convertible chairs fitting all weight groups and usable from the birth of your child up to the age of 12 are also available on the market.
We do not recommend these products. They tend to perform poorly during testing, especially when it comes to providing safety for newborns. You also have to keep in mind that chairs will eventually wear out over time and expire. This is why our suggestion is that you invest in several good car seats over the years as your child grows.
You’ll be making a great investment in the safety of your child by buying the right car seat. Don’t forget that regulations change and that opting for a model that complies with them is the best option, especially when it comes to the anchorage system. We hope that our ranking offered you different options that should fit the needs of your child.
And remember: your baby’s first car seat won’t be his last, as your child will outgrow it and these products tend to wear away over time. You can always choose a model that can grow with your baby over several years. Make sure the car seat is comfortable and soft as your child may very well spend a lot of time in it.
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(Source of featured image: Melpomen: 60979523/ 123rf.com)