The Best Baby Car Seat for Legal yet Comfortable RidesThe Best Baby Car Seat for Legal yet Comfortable Rides

The Best Baby Car Seat

Or how to get baby from A to B, safely and comfortably.
Sarah Idle
Words by 
Sarah Idle
Updated 
Jul 31, 2020
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Picture the scene: you’re due at the in-laws’ house ASAP but you’re running late (because kids). You wrestle the kids into the car, almost losing an eye in the process, and pull out your driveway. At this point, the car seat pipes up to remind you about your famous 3-cheese dip that’s currently sat on the kitchen benchtop. You park, run back and disaster is averted. Thanks car seat!

Unfortunately, even the best baby car seat in the world won’t remind you about the stuff you’ve forgotten. It also won’t stop older kids suddenly realising they need the toilet 20 minutes into a long journey. But at least it’ll keep them safe and comfortable as they complain. 

Here are Australia’s best baby car seats, backed by independent testing, hours of research and real Aussie consumer insights.

Best for most

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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Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT
Top
Pick
Best for budget

Infasecure Rover

The Infasecure Rover is proof that you don’t need to compromise on safety when it comes to your budget. It’s highly rated for safety, especially in forward-facing mode. It also lasts an impressively long time, taking baby from 6 months to 8 years. It comes in under $200 from a proudly Aussie company.

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Infasecure Rover
Best for compact

Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene

If you’ve got a small car or need multiple car seats, the Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene is a great option. It’s just 44cm wide and 52cm deep (rear-facing). As well as being compact, it allows baby to stay rear-facing for longer (up to 2-3 years). As you’d expect, it’s not the cheapest option.

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Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene

How we picked

Picking the best car seats in Australia was tough. Because there are literally hundreds of them. We started by looking at the most important feature of a baby car seat: safety.

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. Their recent baby car seat survey 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 consumers on ProductReview.com.au. First, we ran the safest car seats from childcarseats.com.au through Product Review, to see what people thought of them. We wanted to see that the recommended seats had at least 70 reviews and at least 3 out of 5 stars. 

Then, using the criteria of at least 70 reviews and 3 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 top 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. Wondering what the difference is? We’ve got a FAQ for that.

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.

Best for most -> Britax Safe-n-Sound Millenia SICT

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.

Check price

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 adjuster 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 over 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. It’s currently Australia’s most popular car seat on ProductReview.com.au, where it’s an award winner 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

Plus, Britax Safe-N-Sound is Aussies’ joint most popular brand, according to Canstar Blue. It received 5 stars for overall satisfaction as well as comfort, durability and design. It got 4 stars for value for money and flexibility.

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.

Loved by Aussies

It’s currently the most popular car seat on ProductReview.com.au, where it’s an award winner 2018, 2019 and 2020. Plus, it’s Australia’s joint most popular baby car seat brand.

The not-so-good bits

Price

with a RRP of $649.99, this is one of the most expensive car seats we reviewed. 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 60cm deep and 47cm wide. Forward-facing, it’s 39cm deep and 47cm wide. From all the car seats we’ve reviewed, this width seems about standard, with most of them around 46cm.

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.

Best for budget -> Infasecure Rover

Infasecure Rover

The Infasecure Rover is proof that you don’t need to compromise on safety when it comes to your budget. It’s highly rated for safety, especially in forward-facing mode. It also lasts an impressively long time, taking baby from 6 months to 8 years. It comes in under $200 from a proudly Aussie company.

Check price

The Infasecure Rover is proof that you don’t need to spend a fortune to keep baby safe. It has a RRP around $170. Which isn’t bad for a car seat that’s going to take baby from 6 months all the way through to 8 years.

In forward-facing mode, the Infasecure Rover offers excellent protection – CREP rated it 4.7 stars. For less than $200, you’re getting Infasecure’s safest a safe convertible booster seat. This is backed up by the CREP protection rating. The seat features Air Cocoon Technology (A.C.T.). Infasecure reckons “this enhances side impact protection through blow moulding design, which dramatically reduces the impact forces during a crash. The high blow moulded backrest and large side wings act like airbags”. 

It also has unique ‘anti-submarining technology’. This basically means if you’re in a crash, the Rover will stop your child sliding under the lap belt and help prevent serious abdominal injuries. 

For comfort, it’s got an adjustable, removable headrest pillow, shoulder strap pads and crotch buckle pads. At 47.5cm wide and 43cm deep, it’s quite slimline so a good choice for small cars. 

We really like that Infasecure is a 4th generation, 100% Australian owned and operated family business. Although the Rover doesn’t yet have any ProductReview.com.au reviews, Infasecure is Australia’s 4th most popular baby car seat brand, according to Canstar Blue. It gets 5 stars for comfort and support, value for money, plus design and style. It earns 4 stars for durability, flexibility and overall satisfaction.

Why buy the Infasecure Rover

Safety

It’s well-rated by CREP in forward-facing mode where it gets 4.7 stars. 

Long-lasting

It’ll last you from 6 months all the way through to 8 years.

Comfortable

Thanks to the headrest pillow, shoulder strap pads and crotch buckle pads. 

Slimline

It’s 47.5cm wide making it a good choice for small cars or if you need multiple car seats.

Price

It comes in under $200.

Aussie business

By buying this, you’re supporting a 100% Aussie owned company.

The not-so-good bits

Starts from 6 months

So you’ll need to buy or rent a capsule before moving to this seat.

Forward facing from 6 months

Legally, this is all you need to do but some parents prefer to keep baby rear-facing for longer. 

Not ISOFIX-compatible

This doesn't impact on safety but does a little on convenience. You’ll need to install it using the seatbelt which can be trickier to master.

In summary

The Infasecure Rover is a great choice for an affordable baby car seat. Even though it comes in under $200, it doesn’t compromise on safety. It’s highly rated by CREP where it gets 4.7 stars for its forward facing protection. It also lasts an impressively long time for the price; it takes baby from 6 months to 8 years. Slimline, at 47.5cm wide, it’s good for small cars or if you need multiple car seats. We love that Infasecure Rover is a 100% Aussie owned company. Opt for the Rover and you’ll need to rent or buy a capsule to use first. It’s also not ISOFIX-compatible.

Best for compact -> Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene

Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene

If you’ve got a small car or need multiple car seats, the Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene is a great option. It’s just 44cm wide and 52cm deep (rear-facing). As well as being compact, it allows baby to stay rear-facing for longer (up to 2-3 years). As you’d expect, it’s not the cheapest option.

Check price

If you’ve got a small car, a long-legged front seat passenger or need multiple car seats, a compact baby car seat is a smart choice. Enter the Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene - Britax’s ‘most advanced compact car seat’. 

That’s thanks to its safety features. These include side impact cushion technology (which protects your child’s chest and vital organs in case of a crash) and active head restraint. This means deep side wings to shield your child’s head if your car is hit from the side. There’s an additional EPS (fancy name for polystyrene) layer to absorb energy from a crash. CREP gives it 3.8 stars for rear facing protection. They also rate its ease of use, giving it 3.9 stars. 

Given the Graphene will take baby from 0 to 4 years, it’s surprisingly compact. Rear-facing, it’s 44cm wide and 52cm deep. Forward-facing, it’s 42.5cm deep. These are some of the smallest measurements we’ve seen.

Another thing we love is that baby can stay rear-facing for longer. Sure, by law baby only needs to rear face for 6 months but research show it’s safer to stay rear facing as long as possible. The Graphene allows little ones to stay rear facing until they’re 2-3 years old. 

It’s ISOFIX compatible for easy installation and features bamboo fabric which helps keep your little one cool. It gets around 4.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au and Britax Safe-N-Sound is Aussies’ joint top baby car seat brand, according to Canstar Blue. 

Why buy the Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene 

Compact

At 44cm wide, it’s a slimline car seat that’s ideal for small cars or cars that need multiple car seats.

Safety

It’s packing some great safety features, including side impact cushion technology. This is backed up by CREP giving it 3.8 stars for rear facing protection.

Rear-facing for longer

Baby can stay rear-facing up to 2-3 years.

ISOFIX compatible

For easy and safe installation.

Loved by Aussies

It gets a great rating on ProductReview.com while Britax Safe-N-Sound is Aussies’ joint top baby car seat brand.

The not-so-good bits

Length of use

It’s suitable from newborn but will only last until baby is around 4 years. It’s got a pretty steep price (see below) for this.

Price

RRP $629, it’s quite expensive for a seat that’ll only last a few years.

In summary

The Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene is a great option if you’re after a compact baby car seat. At 44cm wide and 52cm deep (rear-facing), it’s ideal for small cars or cars which need multiple seats. As well as being compact, it’s crammed full of safety features and gets a great 3.8 stars from CREP for its rear-facing protection. Aside from that, baby can stay rear-facing for longer (up to 2-3 years). However, it’s not cheap and baby will need a new seat once they’re 4.

The competition

There are hundreds of well-reviewed and tested car seats available in Australia – here are some that are also worth considering. Note that all of these have been tested by CREP.

Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro 

The Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro is a forward-facing only car seat. This means it’s suitable from 6 months. But it lasts until your child is 8 years old. So, you’ll need a capsule with this one, but not a booster.

It has excellent ratings from CREP, who award it 3.5 stars for protection and 3.8 stars for ease of use. It offers some of the same safety features as our other Safe-N-Sound picks, the Millenia and the Graphene. This includes the side impact cushion technology for head and torso protection. But it doesn’t include the active head restraint.

To grow with your child, it has an easy adjust headrest which repositions the shoulder harness for you and a ‘hassle free harness’. For comfort, there are 2 recline positions (there are 4 in the Millenia) and the same bamboo 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 gets almost 5 stars on ProductReview.com.au from over 150 reviews. It’s also an award winner 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Phew. Aussies love how easy it is to install, even without ISOFIX, its safety features and how comfortable it is. 

Choose this if…

You want a long-lasting, safe car seat suitable from 6 months that’s loved by Aussies, not the most compact option out there and you’re happy with no ISOFIX compatibility.

Infasecure Quattro Astra

Another Infasecure, we love the Quattro Astra for 2 reasons. One is that it’s compact. At 42cm wide, it’s really narrow - the narrowest we found. This makes it ideal if you need multiple car seats. It’s 54cm deep when it’s rear-facing which isn’t the shallowest we found - that would be the Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene.

Two is that it keeps baby rear-facing for longer, up to 30 months. The seat should last you from birth until 4 years. It has a removable newborn insert to grow with your baby. 

It’s also packing ‘twist & lift’ technology which means you can easily adjust the headrest and harness, one-handed. It has 9 recline positions and it’s covered in hardwearing, breathable and cool fabric that snaps off easily for washing. It isn’t ISOFIX compatible.

Because it’s Infasecure, you’re supporting a fourth generation 100% Australian owned and operated family business. It’s also the fourth most popular Aussie car seat brand, according to Canstar Blue. It’s well scored by CREP, getting 3.8 for its forward protection and 4.3 for its rear. It gets almost 5 stars on ProductReview.com.au from a handful of reviews. As you’d expect, it’s a lot more expensive than our Infasecure budget pick. It has a RRP of almost $620.

Choose this if…

You want a non-ISOFIX car seat to use from newborn that’s really narrow, to keep baby forward-facing for longer (up to 30 months) and to support an Aussie business.

Safety 1st Solo

The Safety 1st Solo is a good alternative to our best for budget pick, the InfaSecure Rover. Like the Rover, you can use it forward-facing from 6 months. It’ll last you up to 8 years.

It claims to be slimline but we can’t find its dimensions anywhere. It does say 3 of them can fit next to each other, if needed. 

Coming in at under $200, it’s well-priced. 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. Safety 1st is also the joint #1 car seat brand, according to Canstar Blue. It gets 5 stars for overall satisfaction, value for money, durability and flexibility, and 4 stars for comfort and design.

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 covers are removable and machine washable too. The downside? It’s not ISOFIX-compatible and there aren’t currently any reviews on ProductReview.com.au. 

Choose this if…

You want an affordable, non-ISOFIX car seat you can use from 6 months forward-facing from a popular brand with great safety ratings.

Maxi-Cosi Euro NXT

The Maxi-Cosi Euro NXT gets you extended rear-facing time, up to 2.5 years. 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. The Euro NXT is popular with Aussies –  it gets almost 4.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au.

It has a huge RRP ($729) but only takes baby up to 4 years. However, it does come with a lifetime warranty. 

Choose this if…

You want to keep baby rear facing for longer (up to 2.5 years) and are happy with a high price tag in exchange for a lifetime warranty.

How we picked

Picking the best car seats in Australia was tough. Because there are literally hundreds of them. We started by looking at the most important feature of a baby car seat: safety.

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. Their recent baby car seat survey 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 consumers on ProductReview.com.au. First, we ran the safest car seats from childcarseats.com.au through Product Review, to see what people thought of them. We wanted to see that the recommended seats had at least 70 reviews and at least 3 out of 5 stars. 

Then, using the criteria of at least 70 reviews and 3 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 top 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. Wondering what the difference is? We’ve got a FAQ for that.

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.

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. 

Budget conscious? Meet the Infasecure Rover. Highly rated by CREP where it gets 4.7 stars for its forward facing protection, it lasts an impressively long time: it takes baby from 6 months to 8 years. It’s also slimline, making it a good choice for small cars. By choosing an Infasecure you’re supporting a 100% Aussie owned company. Opt for the Rover and you’ll need to rent or buy a capsule to use first. It’s not ISOFIX-compatible but does come in under $200.

If space is an issue, consider the Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene. It’s 44cm wide and 52cm deep (rear-facing), making it ideal for small cars or cars which need multiple seats. As well as being compact, we love that baby can stay rear-facing for longer (up to 2-3 years). It’s not cheap and baby will need a new seat once they’re 4.

Frequently asked questions

What different types of car seats are there?

When it comes to baby car seats, you’ve got 2 basic options. You can opt for a forward-facing car seat or a convertible car seat.

By law, baby can move to a forward-facing car seat once they’re 6 months old. They normally last until baby is about 4 years. So, you'll need a capsule before baby moves to one. Then you’ll need another seat to get them from 4 to around 8-10 years when they no longer need a car seat.

A convertible car seat does what it sounds like. It starts as rear-facing for little ones then converts to  forward-facing (or booster seats) for older ones.

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 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. 

When should you change your baby’s car seat?

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to change baby’s car seat, here are some helpful tips. 

Change your baby’s car seat when:

  • Baby grows out of it. The car seat will have weight and height restrictions. Make sure you know what these are. Most car seats have visible shoulder / height markers so you can see at a glance if baby has outgrown it. 
  • The expiry date passes. Every car seat has an expiry date and you shouldn’t be using it once this date has passed. Check the label for the expiry date.
  • It’s been involved in an accident. The seat might look fine but the damage might be invisible. Check with your insurance company - most of them will replace a car seat after an accident.
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