The Best Baby Car Seat

Or how to get baby from A to B, safely and comfortably.

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October 23, 2019
Best baby car seats

Baby Car Seats

The best baby car seat won’t remind you of the chilly bin you left on the side. It also won’t stop your older child suddenly realising they need the toilet 20 minutes into your journey. But at least it’ll keep them safe and comfortable as they complain. Here are Australia’s top rated baby car seats, backed by independent testing, hours of research and real Aussie customer insights.

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Our top picks

Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT
Best Overall

Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT

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Safe, stylish and simple to use, the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT comes full of features. The best one? Your child can be rear facing (the safest position for little ones in cars) for longer, up to 2-3 years. You can use it from newborn, meaning you don’t need a capsule.
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Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT
Also Great

Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT

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Another Britax, the Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT will take your child from 6 months old all the way through to 8 years old, in safety and comfort. Affordably priced for its long-lasting nature, this is an easy to use car seat that Aussies love. Unlike our winner, it’s not ISOFIX-compatible.
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Baby Car Seats

The best baby car seat won’t remind you of the chilly bin you left on the side. It also won’t stop your older child suddenly realising they need the toilet 20 minutes into your journey. But at least it’ll keep them safe and comfortable as they complain. Here are Australia’s top rated baby car seats, backed by independent testing, hours of research and real Aussie customer insights.

Baby Car Seats
Cosier is reader-supported. If you click on or buy something via a link on this page, we may earn a commission. Learn more

How we picked

All car seats sold in Australia need to meet the safety standard AS/NZS 1754 (either 2004, 2010 or 2013). So, we began with the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) website, childcarseats.com.au. They independently test car seats, awarding them a maximum of 5 stars for protection and ease of use. Although every car seat listed on the website is considered safe, those with more than 1 star exceed the current safety standard. We started by looking at the highest rated car seats. Ideally, they were awarded 3 or more stars for protection.

We had a look at Canstar Blue too. This told us which car seat manufacturers are most loved and trusted by Aussies in the areas of comfort and support, durability, flexibility and value for money. Although this didn’t give us any specific models, it did give us the most popular brands. 

It was then the turn of real Aussie customers on ProductReview.com.au. First, we ran the safest car seats from childcarseats.com.au through Product Review, to see what customers thought of them. We wanted to see that the recommended seats had at least 70 reviews and at least 4 out of 5 stars. 

Then, using the criteria of at least 70 reviews and 4 stars, we looked for car seats that were popular with Aussies – and then ran those through childcarseats.com.au. We wanted to see that these popular car seats got at least 3 stars for protection.

This process got our shortlist of Australia’s 7 best baby car seats.

To suit the greatest range of needs, we decided to include a combination of both forward-facing and convertible car seats. Convertible car seats mean rear-facing for little ones, before converting to forward-facing (or booster seats) for older ones. 

Forward-facing car seats suit children aged 6 months – 4 years. Convertible car seats suit children aged 0 months – 8 years, in a variety of combinations. These include:

  • 0–4 years, which means you’ll need to buy another seat after this.
  • 6 months – 8 years, which means you’ll need to buy a baby capsule before you graduate to this, but it should take your child through to no longer needing a car seat.
  • 0–8 years, which means it could be the only car seat you need. These can be bulky, and you need to consider its wear and tear over this extended period. 

For our guide, this means some of our recommended car seats replace the need for a capsule because they’re suitable from birth. Some are intended for use only once baby has outgrown their capsule, approx. 6-12 months. Some will see you through until your child is 4, and others to 8.

Important features to consider

The biggest thing to look for is that your car seat meets all Australian safety standards. Look for a label that shows it meets safety standard AS/NZS 1754 (either 2004, 2010 or 2013). Here’s what else to consider.

Length of time

Car seats are intended for different periods of time. They can serve from newborn up to 8 years, with plenty of variants in between. Which means you need to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying.

Note that if you’re buying a car seat to use from newborn, it’s law that all babies up to 6 months old must be rear facing. 

ISOFIX

If you have ISOFIX anchorage points in your car, you can get an ISOFIX-compatible car seat. For sleep-deprived parents, an ISOFIX installation system can be easier to install. The seatbelt method of installation for non-ISOFIX-compatible car seats is just as safe, when installed correctly. 

Size

Car seats, especially convertible ones, can be large. If you have a small car (or long legs!) or need to have more than 1 seat in the car, pay attention to the dimensions of the seat, particularly the width and depth. The best way to work out if it’ll fit is to go to a shop and try it in your car.

Cleaning

Kids, especially older ones, make a mess. Engrained chips, spilt drinks and more unmentionable things. Ensure the covers and any inserts or cushions are easily removable and machine washable.

What you get if you spend more

There are some additional features that you might get if you spend a little more. But they won’t impact on the seat’s safety performance.

Cup holders 

For older kids, a cup holder or 2 can be helpful on long car journeys. This is a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.

Fancier fabric

Some fabric offers additional features, like sweat wicking and cooling. Which again, won’t make the seat safer but may make it a more comfortable ride. Real consumer reviews will help you understand the benefits of these better than marketing spiel.

Best Overall: Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT

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Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT
Safe, stylish and simple to use, the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT comes full of features. The best one? Your child can be rear facing (the safest position for little ones in cars) for longer, up to 2-3 years. You can use it from newborn, meaning you don’t need a capsule.
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Safe, stylish and simple to use, the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT comes full of features. It’s highly rated for protection (especially when it’s forward-facing – 4.6 stars) and ease of use (3.5 stars) by CREP on childcarseats.com.au.

The SICT in its name refers to Side Impact Cushion Technology. This is dual-layer head protection. The inner layer provides 180° protection, with the outer layer absorbing immediate crash energy. Its other safety features include an Active Head Restraint (AHR) which has deeper side wings to shield and contain your child’s head. It grows with your child, allowing you to move the wings as they get taller.

But the biggest safety feature is that the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT keeps your child rear-facing for longer. It’s the law that your baby should be rear facing until they’re 6 months old. But, research has shown that infants are safest if they remain in their rear-facing restraint for as long as they still fit in it. They can stay rear facing in the Millenia until they’re about 2-3 years old. 

It features Britax’s Thermo5 high performance fabric with Bamboo Charcoal for breathability and comfort, a simple to use push button harness adjustor and a large storage pocket for your growing child’s stuff. Of which there will be a lot.

Another great thing about it is you can use it from birth until about 4 years old. Which means you don’t need a capsule. It has almost 300 reviews by happy Aussies, giving it a massive 4.7 out of 5 stars. They rave about how easy it is to use, its safety features and how comfortable baby seems in it. Plus, Britax Safe-N-Sound is Aussies’ 2nd most popular brand, according to Canstar Blue. It received 5 stars in 3 key areas: durability, comfort and support, and look and style.

Why buy the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT

Rear-facing for longer – baby can stay rear-facing until they’re 2-3 years old. This far exceeds the legal requirement of 6 months. Research backs up why having child travelling rear-facing is safer for them.

Safety features – from the SICT (Side Impact Cushion Technology) to the AHR (Active Head Restraint), baby will enjoy a safe ride.

No need for a capsule – because the Millenia is suitable from birth, you won’t need to buy a capsule. This makes it super easy for you as a new parent (no researching car seats once baby has outgrown their capsule) and potentially saves you money.

ISOFIX compatible – if you’ve got ISOFIX anchorages in your car, the Millenia will quickly and easily fix into them for a secure ride.

Aircraft compatible (forward-facing mode only) – if you’re planning on travelling overseas when baby is older, you can take the Millenia on a plane. This makes international travel a bit easier.

Comfort – the Millenia has 4 recline positions in the forward-facing mode, helping keep baby comfortable.

Simple to use – it has a height adjustable headrest and harness which Britax reckons you can adjust with 1 hand.

Suitable for – newborn – 4 years (rear-facing 0–2.5 years; forward facing 6 months – 4 years).

Type – convertible.

The not-so-good bits

Price – with a RRP of $649.99, this is one of the most expensive car seats we reviewed. There are only 2 more expensive than this. But buying the Millenia means you don’t need a capsule. Plus, it’ll keep your child safely rear facing for longer. 

Size – some customers say the Millenia is huge and takes up their entire car. In rear-facing mode, it’s 600mm deep and 470mm wide. Forward-facing, it’s 390mm deep and 470mm wide. From all the car seats we’ve reviewed, this width seems about standard, with most of them around 460mm. 

Age limited – the Millenia is suitable from newborn, which is great, but only goes up to 4 years. Meaning you’ll need to buy a booster seat after this one, to get your child to 8-10 years. 

In summary 

If safety is most important for you, and you’d like to keep baby rear-facing as long as possible, the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT is a great choice. Taking baby from newborn to 4 years old, it’s delighting Aussies with its safety features, ease of use and comfort.

Also Great: Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT

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Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT
Another Britax, the Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT will take your child from 6 months old all the way through to 8 years old, in safety and comfort. Affordably priced for its long-lasting nature, this is an easy to use car seat that Aussies love. Unlike our winner, it’s not ISOFIX-compatible.
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Another Britax Safe-N-Sound is our runner-up. Coming in at a lower RRP ($579, to our winner’s $649.99), you get a forward-facing only car seat. This means it’s suitable from 6 months (not birth, like the Millenia). But it lasts until your child is 8 years old. So, you’ll need a capsule with this one, but not a booster.

Like the Millenia, the Maxi Guard Pro has excellent safety ratings. It gets 3.5 stars for protection from CREP. At 3.8 stars for ease of use, it’s rated even easier to use than the Millenia.

It offers some of the same safety features as the Millenia. This includes the Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT) for head and torso protection. But it doesn’t include the Active Head Restraint (AHR).

With a focus on easy use, it has a similar push button harness adjustor, an easy adjust headrest which repositions the shoulder harness for you and a ‘hassle free harness’ which grows with your child.  

For comfort, there are 2 recline positions (there are 4 in the Millenia) and the same Thermo5 fabric for softness and breathability. There’s no storage pocket. But there are pivoting arm rests for your older child and 2 flexi cup holders. 

It also has 4.8 stars on ProductReview.com.au from almost 150 reviews. Customers love how easy it is to install, even without ISOFIX, its safety features and how comfortable it is. 

Why the Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT is worth considering

Excellent safety – it gets an impressive 3.5 stars for protection from CREP. In comparison, the Millenia gets 4.6 stars in forward-facing mode. Remember that all car seats that get 1 star still meet the minimum Australian standards and provide good protection. Anything beyond 1 star provides better-than-the-minimum protection. 

Age range – the Maxi Guard Pro will fit your child until they’re around 8 years old. Which means they should be ok to graduate to an adult seat belt once they’ve outgrown it. Choice has some great info about when it’s safe for your child to use an adult seat belt – scroll to the bottom. 

Safety features – Britax reckons their Maxi Guard Pro is their most advanced harnessed car seat yet. This includes the dual-layer Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT) for head and torso protection. Plus, the fact that this car seat will keep your child safely harnessed for a long time – around 8 years. 

Comfort – to last your child a long time, the Maxi Guard Pro has a removable cushion insert for when they’re tiny. The rest of the seat is covered in Thermo5 fabric, which is heat wicking to keep your child cool. 

Supportive – pivoting arm rests, shoulder pads and the cushioned insert provide extra support. 

Easy to use – you can easily adjust the headrest while your child is seated – no need to uninstall the seat or take your child out. As you adjust the headrest, the shoulder harness automatically repositions. Plus, the hassle-free harness is operated by 1 push button and it grows with your child. 

Price – with a RRP of $579, this is a great price for a long-lasting car seat stuffed with proven safety features.

Suitable for – 6 months – 8 years.

Type – forward-facing.

The not-so-good bits

Not ISOFIX compatible – for tired parents, ISOFIX-installed car seats can be quicker and easier to install. Although not being ISOFIX compatible doesn’t make the Maxi Guard Pro less safe, it does make it a little trickier to install.

Age range – because the Maxi Guard Pro is forward-facing and only suitable from 6 months, you will need to buy a capsule before graduating to this.

Slimline – Britax says that this seat’s outer width is slimline, allowing you to have multiple car seats in your car. Its width is 460mm. Which is 10mm less wide than the Millenia. Meaning, you probably won’t even notice that it’s ‘slimline’. 

In summary 

The Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT will take your child from 6 months old all the way through to 8 years old, in safety and comfort. Affordably priced for its long-lasting nature, this is an easy to use car seat that Aussies love. It’s not ISOFIX-compatible though, and you will need to buy a capsule before graduating to this. 

The Competition

There are hundreds of well-reviewed and tested car seats available in Australia – here are some that are also worth considering. 

Infasecure Rover

In forward-facing mode, the Infasecure Rover offers excellent protection – CREP rated it 4.7 stars. It comes from Aussies’ most popular car seat brand, Infasecure, and has an insanely good price: RRP $149. Which isn’t bad for a car seat that’s going to last you almost 8 years. 

For less than $200, you’re getting Infasecure’s safest convertible booster seat. This is backed up by the CREP protection rating. The seat’s shell features a strong blow-moulded construction and their unique ‘anti-submarining technology’. This basically means that if you’re in a frontal accident, the seat’s design results in a larger downward rather than lateral force for reduced forward movement and ‘submarining’. It also has a high blow-moulded backrest and large side wings which act like airbags.

The downsides? You’re moving your baby to forward-facing from 6 months – which is legally all you need to do, although some parents prefer to keep baby rear-facing for longer. It wasn’t highly rated for ease of use and it hasn’t been reviewed by real Aussies on ProductReview.com.au. This means we don’t really know how it performs for real parents. But for this price and for all these highly rated safety features, it may be worth a go.

Suitable for – 6 months – 8 years

Type – convertible. Forward-facing 6 months – 4 years; booster 4–8 years

Safety 1st Summit AP

You can skip the capsule with the Safety 1st Summit AP, and you can also keep baby rear-facing for up to a year. Its biggest safety feature is AirProtect, which offers side impact head protection. CREP rated the Summit AP 4.7 stars for protection in rear-facing mode. This drops to 2.6 for forward-facing. It has lots of features for comfort. These include a 5-position headrest and a 3-position recline. Although you do need to adjust these via a lever at the back.

It comes with an impressive 6-year warranty, is ISOFIX-compatible for easy install and will suit your child from newborn. However, there are limited reviews on ProductReview.com.au. A lot of Aussies raise concerns about how easy it is to use, which is backed up by CREP only awarding it around 2 stars for ease of use in both modes. Given this seat suits the same age range as our Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT winner, we think you’re best with that one. Although this is considerably cheaper. Its RRP is $379, compared to the Millenia’s $649.99.

Suitable for – newborn – 4 years

Type – convertible. Rear-facing 0–12 months; forward-facing 6 months – 4 years

Safety 1st Summit Solo

If space is a consideration for you, the Safety 1st Summit Solo is a good choice. At 450mm wide, it’s the slimmest car seat we’ve reviewed, and 20mm narrower than our winner. Coming in at under $200, it’s another excellent price. But it doesn’t compromise on safety. CREP awarded it 4.8 stars for protection in booster mode, and a still impressive 3.4 stars in forward-facing.

It grows with your child, thanks to its 5-position adjustable headrest and removable infant insert. For older kids, it’s got arm rests and large retractable cupholders. The downside? It’s not ISOFIX-compatible and there aren’t currently any real Aussie reviews on ProductReview.com.au.

Suitable for – 6 months – 8 years

Type – convertible. Forward-facing 6 months – 4 years; booster 4–8 years

Britax Safe-n-Sound Platinum PRO

It’s tempting to call this a guide to Britax Safe-n-Sound car seats, as this is the third Britax seat we reviewed and recommend. This time, Britax reckons this is their most advanced convertible car seat. It includes the dual-layer side and torso Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT) and the AHR (Active Head Restraint). Plus, it gets your baby rear-facing for longer than standard. It’s ISOFIX-compatible and includes the Thermo5 high-performance fabric. 

It scores well with CREP, getting 4.6 stars for protection forward-facing, and 3.3 rear-facing. It also scores well with consumers, although there are less than 100 of them. Even though it’ll last your child the same amount of time (up to 4), the RRP is higher than our winner - a huge $799. It’s also huge, with a width of 500mm. We really can’t work out why this is more expensive than our winner, when its features are very similar and it’s much wider. We’d stick with the Millenia.

Suitable for – newborn – 4 years

Type – convertible. Rear-facing 0–2.5 years; forward-facing 6 months – 4 years

Maxi-Cosi Euro NXT

The Euro NXT also gets you extended rear-facing time, up to 2.5 years, the same as our Millenia winner. It’s ISOFIX-compatible with a range of safety features. This includes crash-absorbing technology and head protection against side impacts. It’s well-rated by CREP, getting 2.9 stars for protection forward-facing, and 3.3 rear-facing, when secured with ISOFIX. It performs better when seatbelt-installed forward-facing, getting 3.8 stars. 

It grows with your baby, thanks to its 5 headrest positions. The QuickFit harness system allows you to adjust the harness height from the front without removing the seat from the car. Maxi-Cosi is popular with Aussies – it’s currently Canstar Blue’s 3rd most popular car seat manufacturer. The Euro NXT has good, but limited, reviews on ProductReview.com.au.

The second-highest price we reviewed, with a RRP of $729, it still only gets your child to 4 years old and it’s not as highly rated for safety as our winner. For those reasons, we’d still pick the Millenia over this.

Suitable for – newborn – 4 years

Type – convertible. Rear-facing 0–2.5 years; forward-facing 6 months – 4 years

The Bottom Line

Child car seats are an essential investment. All car seats currently available in Australia are legally required to meet the minimum safety standards. This means they’re considered to offer good protection in a crash. But the best car seats exceed these minimum standards. They also take account of their target audience: they’re easy to use for sleep-deprived parents, and easy to keep clean for mess-making babies. 

Our top pick is the Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT. It keeps baby rear-facing as long as possible, which research has shown to be the safest position for them to travel in. It takes them from newborn to 4 years old, has a great range of safety features, is easy to use - and it’s comfortable for baby too. 

If you’re happy to buy a capsule first, rather than using a seat from birth, consider the Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro SICT. It takes your child from 6 months old all the way through to 8 years old. Affordably priced for its long-lasting nature, Aussies love how easy it is to use and how comfortable baby seems. 

Sarah Idle
Words by Sarah Idle

Sources

1. "Child Car Seats", Child Car Seats

2. "Baby Car Seats", ProductReview.com.au

3. "How to Choose the Best Baby and Child Car Seats", Choice

4. "Baby Car Seat Reviews & Ratings", Canstar Blue

5. "Keeping children as safe as possible while travelling in motor vehicles", Kidsafe Australia