The Best Baby Capsule for Safe JourneysThe Best Baby Capsule for Safe Journeys

The Best Baby Capsule

Or how to move your sleeping baby, without waking them (not guaranteed).
Sarah Idle
Words by 
Sarah Idle
Updated 
Jun 11, 2021
Category -> 
Baby
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At a glance

Shopping for baby’s arrival can be pretty overwhelming. There’s a bassinet or cot to buy, baby monitors to research and hundreds of tiny socks ready to be eaten by the washing machine. While the life-size toy giraffe for the nursery is a nice-to-have, a capsule or baby car seat is a must-have. That’s because it’s illegal for a baby to travel in a car without a car seat, even for the trip home from the hospital. 

The best baby capsule is easy to use, especially for sleep-deprived parents. It’s not too heavy so you can easily carry them to and from the car. It’ll grow with your baby, thanks to removable inserts and adjustable straps and head support. Most importantly, it’ll keep your baby safe when you’re in the car. 

We’ve dug into independently tested car seats to understand which baby capsules provide great protection and comfort for your little one.

Best for most

Nuna KLIK Plus

The Nuna KLIK plus is an updated version of the Nuna PIPA klik - currently Australia’s safest baby capsule. It has plenty of safety features including locking indicators and a rebound bar. Thanks to a removable infant insert, plus adjustable head support, it'll take baby from birth through to 12 months.

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Nuna KLIK Plus
Top
Pick
Best for budget

InfaSecure Arlo

The InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier is a great, affordable baby capsule. We especially love its compactness, making it suitable for small cars and long-legged family members. Although it gets an excellent safety rating from CREP (4.7 stars), it’s let down by its weight and the need to buy the canopy separately.

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InfaSecure Arlo

How we picked

With baby car seats we were lucky, as most of the hard work had already been done for us. Enter Child Car Seats. This website is an initiative of the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) and aims to provide consumers with information to help choose and use safe child car seats. They independently test Australian car seats and award each one a maximum of 5 stars for protection and ease of use. 

CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group, has done an excellent job at using the CREP ratings to create a guide to choosing the best baby and child car seats.

We also looked at Canstar Blue, an Australian consumer review and comparison website. This gave us an idea of the brands Aussies customers love and trust, but not individual car seats.

So, we took our CREP top-rated baby capsules and checked ProductReview.com.au. This gave us the impartial insights and experiences of real Aussie consumers. We were looking for car seats that got 4-stars and higher, from at least 70 reviews. While we were there, we checked to see what the most popular car seats on ProductReview were and then ran these through the Child Car Seats website to see how they performed. Ideally, we wanted to see 3- or 4-star ratings for protection.

Safety was our number 1 priority for all contenders. All car seats tested by CREP meet the Australian Standard and provide good protection. However, we wanted to find car seats that exceed these minimum standards and show true excellence in safety. We also looked for standard features, such as a 5-point harness, moveable handle and compatibility with a range of strollers.

This gave us our shortlist of Australia’s best baby capsules, informed by independent testing and real customer feedback.

No items found.

How we picked

With baby car seats we were lucky, as most of the hard work had already been done for us. Enter Child Car Seats. This website is an initiative of the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) and aims to provide consumers with information to help choose and use safe child car seats. They independently test Australian car seats and award each one a maximum of 5 stars for protection and ease of use. 

CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group, has done an excellent job at using the CREP ratings to create a guide to choosing the best baby and child car seats.

We also looked at Canstar Blue, an Australian consumer review and comparison website. This gave us an idea of the brands Aussies customers love and trust, but not individual car seats.

So, we took our CREP top-rated baby capsules and checked ProductReview.com.au. This gave us the impartial insights and experiences of real Aussie consumers. We were looking for car seats that got 4-stars and higher, from at least 70 reviews. While we were there, we checked to see what the most popular car seats on ProductReview were and then ran these through the Child Car Seats website to see how they performed. Ideally, we wanted to see 3- or 4-star ratings for protection.

Safety was our number 1 priority for all contenders. All car seats tested by CREP meet the Australian Standard and provide good protection. However, we wanted to find car seats that exceed these minimum standards and show true excellence in safety. We also looked for standard features, such as a 5-point harness, moveable handle and compatibility with a range of strollers.

This gave us our shortlist of Australia’s best baby capsules, informed by independent testing and real customer feedback.

Best for most -> Nuna KLIK Plus

Nuna KLIK Plus

The Nuna KLIK plus is an updated version of the Nuna PIPA klik - currently Australia’s safest baby capsule. It has plenty of safety features including locking indicators and a rebound bar. Thanks to a removable infant insert, plus adjustable head support, it'll take baby from birth through to 12 months.

Check price

The Nuna PIPA klik is Australia’s safest baby capsule, as proven by independent testing by CREP. It was the only 1 of 22 baby and child car seats that scored the maximum 5 stars for its protection against traumatic head, neck and torso injuries in a head-on collision at nearly 60km/h.

Which is amazing. However, it’s been replaced with the Nuna KLIK plus which hasn’t yet been tested by CREP. But the features they’re packing are very similar. This includes locking indicators which turn green to show you that the base is correctly locked into place. It also boasts dual bubble level indicators, so you’re sure the angle is right, and an all-season, UPF 50+ canopy with flip out eyeshade and Dream Drape so bubs can snooze in private.

It has a rebound bar, which prevents rear-facing car seats from rebounding and causing extra motion. It’s not compulsory for car seats to have this in Australia. It’s attached to the car seat base, making it quite deep (67.3cm).

It can be installed with a seat belt or ISOFIX, if your car’s compatible.It also has a contoured carry handle for carrying the capsule to and from the car. The capsule weighs less than 4kg (without the canopy and insert) so it’s lightweight.

The biggest criticism that’s levelled at baby capsules is that baby outgrows them quickly. Most of them only accommodate babies for up to 6 months. The KLIK plus does try to accommodate your growing baby. There’s a comfy infant insert, which you can remove when baby is too big. It also offers adjustable head support with a no re-thread harness, which easily slides up as baby grows. It can handle babies from birth up to 12 months, so there’s some longevity here.

Related: The Best Baby Car Seat

Why buy the Nuna KLIK plus

Contoured carry handle

For easy moving baby between the car and other places.

Peace of mind

Thanks to all the extra features that ensure you’ve installed the capsule correctly. This includes the locking indicators which turn green, rebound bar and dual bubble level indicators. 

Supports sleep

The removable, full coverage UPF 50+ canopy with flip out eyeshade, plus an additional Dream Drape, gives baby protection against the harsh Aussie sun, and hopefully promotes some peaceful shut-eye. 

Suitable from birth

Because of its removable infant insert and harness covers.

Grows with baby

It has adjustable head support and a no re-thread harness which move together. This means they easily slide up as baby grows.

Good looks

It’s stylish and fashionable.

Lightweight

It weighs 3.75kg (without the canopy and insert) which means it’s light and easy to carry around (depending on the weight of your baby!).

The not-so-good bits

Compatibility

It’s only compatible with Nuna pushchairs, which limits your pushchair options if you want a travel system.

No safety rating

It hasn’t yet been reviewed by CREP, although the earlier version of it still is Australia’s safest baby car seat.

No consumer reviews

The Nuna PIPA klik is on ProductReview.com.au but the KLIK plus isn’t (yet).

In summary

The Nuna KLIK plus is an updated version of the Nuna PIPA klik - currently Australia’s safest baby capsule. It has plenty of safety features to deliver peace of mind, including locking indicators, a bubble indicator for correct levelling and a rebound bar. It also has a Dream Drape and UPF 50+ canopy to keep bubs protected against the Aussie sun. Thanks to a removable infant insert and harness covers, plus adjustable head support, it’s suitable from birth through to 12 months.

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Best for budget -> InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier

InfaSecure Arlo

The InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier is a great, affordable baby capsule. We especially love its compactness, making it suitable for small cars and long-legged family members. Although it gets an excellent safety rating from CREP (4.7 stars), it’s let down by its weight and the need to buy the canopy separately.

Check price

With a RRP $200 less than our top pick, the InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier is a more affordable, yet still excellent, option. It received 4.7 stars from CREP for its protection. Style-wise, you’re not getting quite the European looks of the KLIK plus. Instead, InfaSecure opts for a range of bright primary colours rather than the KLIK plus’ muted neutral tones.

InfaSecure believe the Arlo has the most compact rearward facing depth currently available on the Australian market. This means it’s a great choice for small cars or long-legged family members. It features a pop-out recline foot to help achieve the optimal level of recline. 

Like the Nuna KLIK plus, it has a rebound bar. But this one is integrated into the carrier handle. By integrating it into the handle, the Arlo achieves its more compact dimensions.

InfaSecure has a great piece on their website explaining their rebound bar positioning. You can use the handle in the forward or upright position: they’ve both passed the rebound requirements of the Australian Standard.

The Arlo offers 2 installation options: ISOFIX and seatbelt. The seatbelt installation still earned 4.3 stars for protection and saves you a little money, roughly $40.

It’s compatible with Arlo strollers and some Baby Jogger strollers and aircraft-approved, thanks to its special belt path for use with aircraft seatbelts.

InfaSecure topped Canstar Blue’s star ratings for baby car seats. They received 5-star reviews for overall satisfaction, look and style, durability, flexibility and value for money. They also received 4-stars for comfort and support. Which means InfaSecure is a brand that’s known, trusted and loved by Aussies. Bonus points to InfaSecure for being a 4th generation, 100% Australian owned and operated family business.

Related: The Best Baby Carrier

Why buy the InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier

Size

The Arlo is more compact than the KLIK plus. It’s 50cm high (compared to the KLIK plus’ 57.1cm), 46cm wide (2.4cm bigger than the KLIK plus) and 54cm long (a whopping 13.8cm less than the KLIK plus). Which means it’s far more suited to a bigger range of cars. If anyone in your family has long legs and needs their car seat pushed back, the Arlo could be a good choice.

Safety

CREP rated the Arlo’s protection 4.7 stars for the ISOFIX installation.

ISOFIX optional

Unlike the KLIK plus, you get a choice with the Arlo whether to buy the ISOFIX model or not. Choosing the seatbelt model gets you 4.3 stars for protection and a slightly cheaper price. 

Price

With a RRP of $399, the Arlo falls firmly into the affordable category.

Easy clean

With removable inserts, you’ll be able to clean up any spills easily.

Airline-approved

Making it a great choice if you’re planning any overseas adventures with baby.

Ease of use

It looks like the Arlo is easy to put in and take out of the car. It simply snaps into its ISOFIX base. You take it out by releasing a large button on the back. With limited reviews on ProductReview.com.au and an inability to find non-InfaSecure-sponsored reviews, we’re not sure how this works in real life. It did get awarded 3.1 stars by CREP for its ease of use though. 

Aussie-owned

InfaSecure is an 100% Aussie-owned family business which means you’re supporting local if you choose to buy this. 

The not-so-good bits

Weight

The Arlo weighs 4.6kg, about 1kg heavier than the KLIK plus. Add this to your baby’s weight and it could be tricky to carry easily around. If you’re simply transferring from the car to home, it may not be a problem.

Limited adaption to a growing baby

The Arlo only offers a removable newborn insert. Which means baby may outgrow the Arlo quicker than the KLIK plus. InfaSecure claims that it will suit up to a large 6 month old (or average 12 month old). We haven’t found any Australian review that backs this up.

Hood and insert set sold separately

A UV-rated canopy seems standard for an Aussie baby capsule. With the Arlo, you need to buy this separately. It comes with a newborn insert set. The insert set includes a head hugger pillow, comfort insert with side wings, shoulder pads and crotch buckle pad. With a RRP of $65, it’s an affordable but, in our opinion, necessary, extra - shame you have to pay more for it.

In summary 

The InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier is a great, affordable baby capsule, coming in around $399. We especially love its compactness, making it suitable for small cars and long-legged family members. It gets an excellent safety rating from CREP - 4.7 stars from 5 for safety for its ISOFIX installation. It’s let down by its weight and the need to buy the UV-rated canopy separately.

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The competition

A reminder again that all the car seats we looked at meet Australian safety standards. Even receiving 1 star for protection from CREP doesn’t mean it’s an unsafe or bad seat. It simply means it meets the minimum standard but doesn’t exceed it. Ideally, we wanted seats that would exceed the minimum and really excel at safety. These are the car seats that didn’t quite make the cut.

Chicco KeyFit Plus

The Chicco KeyFit Plus is 1 of 3 baby capsules (the others are the Safety 1st One Safe and the Cybex Cloud Q Capsule) we’ve reviewed that isn’t ISOFIX compatible and doesn’t offer an option to be. This means it’ll suit pretty much every car (space dependent!) because it doesn’t need ISOFIX fittings. According to CREP, it offers 4.6 stars of protection and 3.4 stars for ease of use, making it a great choice and highly comparable to our InfaSecure Arlo runner-up.

It reckons it fits babies up to 9 months old and has an easy installation system. That’s 2 precision bubble levels to show you the capsule is level, plus a push button base levelling adjustment which ensures the correct positioning of the seat in the base. It can be combined with a wide range of strollers, including with Bugaboo, Baby Jogger, Phil & Teds, and Mountain Buggy.

Choose this if…

You want a safe and well-priced, non-ISOFIX compatible baby capsule that seems to last longer than the standard 6 months.

Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity Infant Carrier

Britax Safe-n-Sound is the second most trusted brand by Aussie parents in the most recent Canstar Blue survey of car seat manufacturers. Their Unity Infant Carrier is unusual in that it claims to fit babies up to 12 months (the standard is 6 months). Britax claims it’s Australia’s first baby capsule to do this. As well as accommodating older babies, it’s also the only baby capsule suitable for low birth weight and premature infants without restrictive medical conditions thanks to its multiple position shoulder harness and crotch straps. This claim doesn’t seem to be independently verified or backed by evidence. 

It’s ISOFIX compatible, and compact, being even smaller in height than the InfaSecure Arlo. It’s 43cm high (compared to the Arlo’s 50cm), 47cm wide (1cm bigger than the Arlo) and 54cm long, like the Arlo. It weighs around 5kg, heavier than both our top picks. Unlike the Arlo, it includes a large sun canopy and comfort inserts. With its integrated Britax CLICK & GO adaptor, it’s compatible with a range of Britax, Steelcraft, and BOB strollers.

CREP gave it 2.8 stars for protection and 3.8 stars for ease of use – this second rating is higher than both our recommended picks, implying it’s easier to use. Although it’s got a respectable around 4 stars from over 100 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, recent reviews are mixed with concerns raised over its claims to last for up to 12 months, installation issues and lack of head support. 

Choose this if…

You have a premature baby or would like to try a capsule that’s intended to last longer than the standard.

Joie i-Gemm

The Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity Infant Carrier might have been the first baby capsule that goes from birth to 12 months, but it’s not the only one that does. Meet the Joie i-Gemm which keeps baby rear-facing for up to 12 months too.

It’s packed with a great range of features.  We really like the adjustable headrest and harness system that grows with your baby. Most importantly, you don’t need to rethread the harness which can be tricky to do. Instead, you press a button and it repositions, saving you a lot of time (and energy). 

Because it’s suitable for an extended time period, it has a removable body insert and head support. This allows you to create more space for baby as they get bigger. A lot of attention is paid to baby’s comfort. There are padded shoulder harnesses and buckle covers so they’re cosy and comfortable. There’s also a retractable and removable sun canopy with a zip-open panel for extra ventilation.

For you, it’s simple to install in the car because it has an ISOFIX base, which is included. (Although CREP rated the seatbelt installation protection 3.7 stars, while the ISOFIX installation was rated 1.9.)

If you’re planning on travelling with baby, it’s certified for use on planes. Finally, it’s compatible with most Joie prams and any brand that uses Maxi-Cosi® car seat adapters.

Which all sounds great. But a few things to note: the dimensions aren’t the most compact. The Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity Infant Carrier is a good compact option and makes the most sense to compare to, as it too lasts up to 12 months. Joie i-Gemm is 58.5cm high, where the Unity is 43cm. Joie i-Gemm is 66cm long, to the Unity’s 54cm. 

However, it’s only 43.5cm wide, compared to the Unity which is 47cm. So, if you’re after a narrow baby capsule for a narrow back seat, the Joie i-Gemm is worth considering. Oh, and it weighs 4.4kg which is slightly heavier than standard.

Note also that the Joie i-Gemm was subject to a product recall in November 2019 when it was found the top tether might release under excessive load. The product was recalled and capsules sold after 1 November 2019 were unaffected by this. Take a look at the notification for more info. 

Choose this if…

You want a narrow baby capsule that should last baby from 0-12 months and costs around $450. 

Baby Jogger City GO Baby Capsule

Here’s another baby capsule that’s intended to last up to 12 months: the Baby Jogger City GO. It’s very similar to the Joie i-Gemm in that it has removable baby inserts and a no rethread harness system. It too has a sun canopy, although it doesn’t have the zippable ventilation panel, and is approved for aircraft use. 

It also comes with an ISOFIX base. With an auto-adjust dial and spirit level indicator, you can ensure the capsule is safe and level. It also has 6 adjustable positions, which means it grows really well with your baby. You can install it using ISOFIX or a seatbelt (both get 1.7 stars for protection according to CREP).

It’s compatible with all Baby Jogger prams. Size-wise, it weighs almost 5kg (4.75kg) so it’s quite heavy. It’s 68cm high (that’s about 10cm more than the Joie i-Gemm and 15cm more than the Unity) and 70cm long (that’s 4cm more than the Joie i-Gemm and 16cm more than the Unity). It’s 45cm wide, which is 1.5cm wider than the Joie i-Gemm but 2cm less than the Unity. 

Choose this if…

You want to spend around $400 on a baby capsule that should last up to 12 months 

Maxi-Cosi Mico AP

With the Maxi-Cosi Mico AP you can choose an ISOFIX-compatible version or seatbelt installation. CREP rated the seatbelt installation better for protection (3.6 stars) than ISOFIX (1.9 stars). It includes an insert for extra support for smaller babies and a multi-position sun canopy with a flip-out visor for baby eye protection against bright light. It’s also compatible with a large range of premium strollers, including Bugaboo, Joolz and Stokke. 

It features Cool Baby wicking fabric, which is designed to draw moisture away from baby’s skin and allowing air to flow, keeping baby coolly comfortable. The covers are machine washable for easy care. Unusually, it comes with a lifetime warranty, which may explain the higher end price tag – its $549 RRP is almost as much as our top pick.

It has good reviews on ProductReview.com.au with Aussies praising its quality and ease of use.

Choose this if…

You’re a fan of the brand and are ok spending a little more for a quality capsule that’ll last 6 months.

Safety 1st One Safe

After a lightweight baby capsule for a good price? Consider the Safety 1st One Safe. As with all lower priced baby capsules, you’re not getting a lot of features. Its biggest selling point is its 3.5kg weight. Otherwise, it’s got an ergonomically designed carry handle, a removable canopy and removable, machine washable shoulder harness protectors and a ‘head hugger’ for extra comfort. It’s compatible with some Safety 1st strollers. 

It’s not ISOFIX-compatible but given the base doesn’t move once it’s in your car (unless you’re swapping it between cars), that’s not a biggie. It gets almost 2 stars for protection but a great almost 3 stars for ease of use. It racks up almost 4.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au.

Even though it only suits babies up to 6 months, it comes with a 6-year hardware warranty and 2-year fabric one.

Choose this if…

You want an affordable, lightweight baby capsule.

Cybex Cloud Q Capsule

The German-engineered Cybex Cloud Q capsule is a luxury baby capsule. You can expect to pay upwards of $700. It has a 11-position height-adjustable headrest which automatically adjusts the harness, making it easy to use. This huge height range also means it suits newborns up to 12 months. To support newborns, including premmies, it has a removable seat insert. 

Its XXL foldaway SPF 50+ rated sun canopy keeps baby safe from the sun. Because it can be extended incrementally, which means you can have it down as little or much as you want, it’s also great wind and rain protection too. 

What really sets it apart is the fact it can convert into a lie-flat position, outside the car. It’s not safe for a baby to spend an extended period of time sitting in their capsule. By lying flat, your baby will be in a safer sleeping position. You can adjust it to lying flat with one hand, without having to take baby out of it. The handle stays upright so you can easily carry it around, like a literal carrycot. Or you can attach it to a Cybex pushchair. 

It has great looks (it’s a Red Dot award 2016 winner) and has been tested by CREP where it gets a huge 5 stars for protection in the rear facing 0-12 months category - the most highly rated of all the baby capsules in this category.

Choose this if…

You want a good looking, luxury baby capsule that can lie flat, outside of the car, and is suitable for premmies and small newborns.

Important features to consider

When shopping for a baby capsule, it must be rear-facing. This is the safest position for small babies and it’s Australian law. Here’s what else to look for...

A base

Most baby capsules come with a detachable base that lives in your car. This allows you to easily click the capsule in and out of your car. You can also carry baby around in the capsule or attach it to a stroller. With some capsules, you’ll need to buy a base separately. Only 1 of our picks (Phil & Teds Alpha) requires you buy a base. You don’t have to have a base; you can sometimes install a capsule into the car with just the seatbelt. However, most sleep-deprived parents enjoy the ease of simply clicking the capsule in with no fiddling around.

Length of time

Most capsules are intended to use for babies up to 6 months old. Some claim to hold babies up to 9-12 months old. How long your capsule will last you will probably depend on the size of your baby. 

If you’re not sure about spending hundreds of dollars on something that may only last you half a year, you could opt for a car seat that’s both rear- and forward-facing and will take you from newborn to up to 8 years old. We’ve got a guide to those too.

ISOFIX compatibility 

ISOFIX is a car seat installation system that clips the car seat into anchorage points in your car. The advantage of ISOFIX is that they’re usually easier to install than using a seatbelt. There should be no difference in safety. You’ll find most car seats are ISOFIX compatible. Check to see whether your car has ISOFIX anchorage points in it.

If you have an ISOFIX compatible baby capsule, you need to use a top tether strap with it. This is a legal requirement. It prevents the capsule from moving forward in a crash. Fair warning, top tether straps can be a little annoying as you’re fiddling to fix them while trying to not upset / wake your baby.

Safety standards

Your capsule needs a label showing that it meets the safety standard AS/NZS 1754 (either 2004, 2010 or 2013). If you pick a car seat that appears on the Child Car Seats website, you’ll know that it meets mandatory safety standards and is considered safe. If you choose a seat with more than 1 star, it’ll provide more protection than what’s legally required. In this guide, we’ve specifically chosen car seats that have 3-5 stars for protection. 

Size

If you’ve got a small car or need your seat pushed back to accommodate long legs, check out the capsule dimensions. They can be big and bulky. This is even more of a problem if you need more than 1 capsule in your car. The best way to see if a capsule fits your car is to go instore and try some out. 

Weight

A key benefit of a capsule is that you can quickly and easily transfer baby from home to the car / café / stroller. This is far easier if your capsule is lightweight. Most capsules are around 3.5-4kgs which is manageable. 

Easy care and easy use

Babies are messy (we won’t go into the details). Check all the covers and inserts are easily removable, machine washable and quick dry. Try the handle – is it ergonomically designed so you can hold it easily and pleasantly? Does it click into multiple positions smoothly? Are the straps simple to adjust? All these things will make your life a lot easier.

Compatibility

Because a capsule is intended to form part of a travel system, it’s good to pay attention to which strollers they’re compatible with. Some only work with the same brand, others offer a variety. Unless you’re a fan of a brand, opting for a capsule that works with multiple brands is a good choice. You’ll get more affordable options of strollers.

5-point harness

All modern capsules should use a 5-point harness. A 5-point harness adjusts over baby and holds them in the seat. The 5 points are the spots where the harness attaches to the car seat: 2 points at each shoulder, 2 points at baby’s hips and 1 point where it buckles between baby’s legs. 

A hood

With the bright Aussie sunshine, it’s important a capsule has a decent hood that’ll protect little eyes and delicate skin. This should be a standard feature.

Newborn inserts

Most capsules come with removable newborn inserts. Cushioned, they provide extra support to tiny heads and limbs. As baby grows, these can be removed to give them more space.

What you get if you spend more

Given that our baseline is excellent safety that exceeds the standard, by spending more you won’t be getting a safer capsule. But you might get...

Increased compatibility

Especially with strollers that aren’t the same brand.

Airplane-approved

Some capsules feature a place for airplane seatbelts to pass through and are approved for airplane travel. This means if you’re planning overseas travel with your newborn, you won’t need to worry about how you’ll travel with them on a plane.

Sun or sleep shade 

Pay extra and you might get a SPF-rated sun shade that extends the protection offered by the hood. Or you may get a sleep shade, a darkened mesh-like shade that creates a cosy snoozing spot.

More features

These tend to be things that’ll give you increased peace of mind. Think bubble level indicators that show you when the capsule is flat or locking indicators that turn green to show you when the capsule is safely locked in the base. None of these are essential. An audible click or waggling the capsule will also let you know when it’s safely installed. 

The bottom line

It’s up to you whether you buy a baby capsule or go for a convertible car seat that’s both rear and forward-facing. A baby capsule does have its advantages: transferring a settled (or, fingers crossed, sleeping) baby to a stroller is easy. Click them out of the car and into the stroller. Or simply pick them up in their capsule and let them continue their nap in a quiet corner of the café. Capsules are intended to be lightweight, making them easier to handle than their convertible cousins. Remember that all capsules must be rear-facing.

If you’re committed to a capsule, we recommend the Nuna KLIK plus. It’s an updated version of the Nuna PIPA klik, which is currently Australia’s safest baby capsule. It has plenty of safety features to deliver peace of mind, including locking indicators, a bubble indicator for correct levelling and a rebound bar. It also has a Dream Drape and UPF 50+ canopy. A removable infant insert and harness covers, plus adjustable head support, means it should last you from birth through to 12 months. 

We reckon the InfaSecure Arlo Infant Carrier is the best budget capsule. As well as being affordable, it’s super compact. This makes it suitable for small cars and long-legged family members. It gets an excellent safety rating from CREP - 4.7 stars from 5 for safety for its ISOFIX installation. However, it’s quite heavy and you need to buy the UV-rated canopy separately. InfaSecure is a 100% Aussie-owned family business, so it’s a great choice if you’re into supporting local.

Frequently asked questions

What is a capsule?

A capsule is a car seat for babies. It’s rearward-facing with an inbuilt harness. This is a legal requirement for babies under 6 months old. A capsule normally sits on base that stays in your car permanently (unless you’re swapping it between cars). The base is either secured by ISOFIX (more on that below) or by a seat belt. If you use ISOFIX, you need to use top tethers too.

Unlike other car seats, capsules are designed to be easily taken in and out of your car. They can be used as a carrier or attached to a pram to make a travel system. 

What age does a capsule suit up to?

Capsules normally fit babies up to 6 months old or a little older if they still fit safely into the seat. Some might go up to 12 months. 

After 6 months, baby can move to a forward-facing car seat.

Or you can skip a capsule and go straight to a convertible car seat. These start rear-facing and then convert to forward-facing when baby is old enough. 

Is it worth buying a capsule? 

You can buy a capsule that’ll last you around 6 months. or you can buy a convertible car seat that will last you around 4 years. Both of them are equally safe options. So, why bother with a capsule?

A capsule is great because:

  • It can be easily removed from your car.
  • It’s really portable, you can carry baby to / from the car in it.
  • It might be compatible with a pram so you can click the capsule into the pram without disturbing baby (hopefully).
  • Once baby’s outgrown their capsule, you only need to buy a 6-month to 8-year forward-facing convertible car seat and that’s you done.

A capsule is not-so-great because:

  • It can usually only be used for around 6 months.
  • It can cost around the same as a convertible car seat that can be used from birth to 4 years.

What's ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is a capsule / car seat installation system that clips the capsule into anchorage points in your car. The advantage of ISOFIX is that they’re usually easier to install than using a seatbelt. There should be no difference in safety. You’ll find most capsules are ISOFIX compatible. Check to see whether your car has ISOFIX anchorage points in it.

How do I know the capsule is safe?

Look out for a label on the capsule that shows that it meets the safety standard AS/NZS 1754 (either 2004, 2010 or 2013). If you pick a car seat that appears on the Child Car Seats website, you’ll know that it meets mandatory safety standards and is considered safe. If you choose a seat with more than 1 star, it’ll provide more protection than what’s legally required.

How long can a baby stay in a capsule?

Official guidance is that babies should never be left asleep in a capsule / car seat unsupervised and never for a long time. This is especially important for a baby that’s younger than 6 months. That’s because they don’t have enough neck strength to keep their neck up. This can cause their head to drop to their chest, restricting their airflow. (Red Nose has got more info on this.)

A capsule is designed to keep your baby safe while travelling, not as a main sleeping place. Take frequent breaks on long journeys to get them out of their capsule, even if it wakes them up. If they fall asleep in their capsule, don’t leave them sleeping in it when you get home.

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