Compare baby car seat brands InfaSecure, Britax Safe ‘n’ Sound, Maxi-Cosi, Steelcraft, BabyLove, Safety 1st and Mother’s Choice in Canstar Blue’s customer satisfaction ratings, based on overall satisfaction, comfort and support, value for money, look and style, durability and flexibility.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Keeping your kids safe is always priority No.1 for parents, especially when it comes to travelling in the car. That means you’ll want the ‘best’ car seat you can buy. It’s a major purchase decision, whether you are buying one for the first time, or replacing an old one after a couple of years. So it pays to know what your options are, and what other parents think of the car seats they use. And that’s where Canstar Blue comes in.
To find out what car seat brands keep families happy, we surveyed hundreds of parents across Australia who have bought a new car seat in the last three years. Mums and dads were asked to rate their seat on a range of important factors, including comfort and support, durability, flexibility and value for money. The idea is to give you as much information about the compared brands as possible, to help you make an informed purchase decision when the time – or date – comes. So, which brand came out on top this year?
Replacing Britax Safe ‘n’ Sound at the top of the table from last year, InfaSecure achieved five stars for overall satisfaction, look and style, durability, flexibility and value for money. It also received four stars for comfort and support. This year, Britax Safe ‘n’ Sound had to settle for four stars overall.
The seven brands in our 2018 baby car seat review were rated in the following order for overall parent satisfaction:
Britax Safe ‘n’ Sound scored top marks for durability, making it the only other brand to achieve five stars in this category along with InfaSecure. Both Britax Safe ‘n’ Sound and Maxi-Cosi also scored five stars for comfort and support, plus look and style, while Safety 1st was the only other brand along with InfaSecure to rate five stars in regards to value for money.
It’s important to note that our review includes feedback from parents with all types of car seats. With the average spend of those surveyed being $274, baby car seats from leading brands evidently aren’t cheap – so it’s worth doing your research.
Read on for a guide to what the seven brands in our review have to offer parents in market for a baby car seat.
InfaSecure makes a wide range of infant, toddler and child car seats. It boasts a range of infant carriers with detachable bases, front and rear-facing convertible seats, as well as booster seats. There is also a wide variety of colours on offer, away from your standard grey and black that make InfaSecure seats at least interesting to look at. Many convertible car seats also come with the ‘Twist & Lift’ system, which makes it easy to adjust headrests and harnesses without fiddling too much. The infant carriers can be found for around the $400 mark, while convertible and booster car seats are unsurprisingly cheaper.
InfaSecure was rated five stars for overall satisfaction in 2018 and in most other research categories. It earned four stars for comfort and support.
Britax is a well-known producer of baby car seats, encapsulating car seats for a range of different life stages, including infant seats, combination/convertible seats and booster seats for the older kids. Britax Safe ‘n’ Sound has a huge range and boasts several leading technologies to help your baby or infant get from point A to B safely. It also lays claim to providing the only capsule in Australia suitable for low birth weights – or premature babies – without restrictive medical conditions. Britax booster car seats can be found for under $100, but seats for younger kids can easily fetch $500+ prices. This cost goes towards rigorous testing and innovation, the company says.
Britax was rated four stars for overall satisfaction and flexibility, plus three stars in regards to value for money. It received five stars in three other research areas – durability, comfort and support, look and style.
Maxi-Cosi is a brand owned by Dorel Juvenile Products. It produces a modest range of capsules, convertible car seats and booster seats suited for children across most age brackets, from newborns right through to kids approaching their preteens. With a number of colours also on offer, there’s likely to be something out there for every parent. Arguably the most exciting in the range is its convertible car seats, boasting ‘GCELL’ crash absorbing technology with crumple zones and ‘Air Protect’ for superior side impact protection. Maxi-Cosi’s infant car seats are priced around the $300-$400 mark, while the convertible car seats often cost nearer $500 in a lot of cases.
This year, Maxi-Cosi was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, durability and flexibility. It was three stars in terms of value for money and five stars for comfort and support, plus look and style.
A Britax-owned company, Steelcraft manufactures travel systems, strollers and high chairs. It’s a household name both in Australia and New Zealand with all products stated to meet industry standards for baby car seats. Expect adjustable base positions for better fitment in the vehicle seat, baby inserts and shoulder pads for infants as well as head support to ensure comfortability. Its range is also boasted to have lightweight designs for easy moveability and compatibility with selected Steelcraft and Britax strollers for its capsules. Prices start from around $350 for its capsule line up.
Steelcraft achieved four stars for overall satisfaction, as well as value for money, durability, look and style, plus comfort and support. It was three stars for flexibility.
A company also owned by Britax, BabyLove car seats have historically been quite popular in Australia, with an expansive range of child seats including capsules, combination/convertible and booster seats to select from. BabyLove’s ‘Snap n Go’ capsules are unsurprisingly the most portable seats, easily detached from their base for transportation and can also be attached to prams & strollers for ultimate flexibility. BabyLove’s booster seats can be found for under $80, while combo seats are usually around the $200 mark and capsules and infant seats are nearer $300.
BabyLove was a solid performer with four stars for overall satisfaction, flexibility and value for money. It was three stars for comfort and support, look and style, as well as durability.
Safety 1st produces a range of products including car seats, travel system strollers, baby gear and safeguarding solutions. Expect features such as multiple headrest positions for comfort, machine washable covers for easy cleaning and the ISOGO ISOFIX compatible soft latch system that’s boasted for its simple and secure car installation. Safety 1st booster seats can be had from $199, while its top of the range – Sentry Harnessed Booster Seat – retails for $379. In its convertible car seat range, it offers just one model with a retail price tag of $429, which is its most expensive in the full line-up.
Safety 1st was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, as well as durability, flexibility and look and style. It rated three stars for comfort and support, but achieved five stars with regards to value for money.
Mother’s Choice produces a relatively concise range of child car seats, with convertibles and boosters on offer. There is even a line of AFL-themed booster seats so you can convert your child into a superfan before they can even understand football! Convertible seats can be forward or rear-facing and have multi-position adjustable headrests and forward-facing recline positions for maximum comfort. The boosters can be had for under $100, while convertibles start from around the $170 mark. Mother’s Choice is another brand owned by Dorel Juvenile Products.
Mother’s Choice rated three stars for overall satisfaction and in all other categories except value for money where it received four stars.
First and foremost, when it comes to kids and cars, safety is always the priority. All car seats in Australia are required to meet safety standard AS/NZS (2004, 2010 or 2013). Apart from safety, below are the key drivers of satisfaction for parents identified from our research:
Along with the above key drivers of satisfaction, you might like to consider the car seat’s weight – for easy manoeuvrability – and design, for ease of cleaning. Compatibility with your stroller and car is also important if you’re purchasing a capsule or an ISOFIX car seat. Other key findings from our 2018 survey include:
The type of baby car seat you should get largely depends on the age and size of your child, with personal preference also coming into play. There are generally three different types of baby car seats – infant car seats, convertible car seats and booster seats.
As the name suggests, infant car seats are designed for infants, and are suitable for children’s use up to 12 months of age. Infant car seats are most cocoon-like of all and are rear-facing. Depending on the growth rate of your baby, infant car seats are good for about six months to 12 months, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and the general rule of thumb is to keep them rear-facing as long as possible. Quite often, infant car seats double as a carrier, with easily detachable bases for easy transportation. This makes it easy for transporting baby between two cars, between car and home, and for clicking onto strollers.
Convertible car seats are generally the most varied type of child car seat and suit a wide range of ages, up to 30 months. Often they come as one whole unit, rather than with a detachable base. They often come with removable covers, making them much easier to wash and clean. Based on the child’s size, these car seats will generally be suitable from birth to 4 years. Some can be rear-facing for up to 30 months. The main downside with convertible seats is that they are not exactly portable, and cannot be used as child carriers. However, given their longevity, they arguably provide the best value for money.
As the last in the lifecycle of baby car seats, booster seats are the last step before your child is capable of sitting in a regular seat. Booster seats are often the most basic in design, and make use of the full-sized seatbelt. Booster seats are forward-facing and are suitable for toddlers and older. Booster seats can also generally take the most weight, with kids up to around 35kg able to sit in them. Child height is critical in this segment, and if your child is tall enough they may even be able to do away with a secondary seat entirely. Generally the recommendation is that a booster seat should be used until children are 8 years of age, with the legal requirement for sitting in a front seat being at least 12 years. The general rule is if the child is less than 145cm, they stay in their booster seat.
ISOFIX is the name for the international standard of attachment points for children’s car seats. Dubbed ‘LATCH’ in the US and ‘CANFIX’ in Canada, ISOFIX is a standard set of attachment points that will feature in all new cars in Australia.
The first compatible products were released in 1997, and by 2013 the UN stipulated that all new vehicles must have ISOFIX points attached. This development makes it much easier for parents to properly fasten their child seats in different cars. With universal attachment points, the aim is for much confusion to be removed and for car seats to be easily fitted in mum and dad’s car, as well as the grandparents’ and so on.
When deciding which car seat is best for your child, give some thought to the factors mentioned above. While ‘baby stuff’ typically has high price tags, car seats are required by Australian law and shouldn’t be considered lightly. Buying one may result in a significant hit to your baby budget, but you really can’t put a price on safety! All of the brands featured in this report are reputable and must comply with Australian safety standards, so you should have confidence that your little one is in safe hands. As a result, factors like flexibility and convenience really come into play. While your car seat is for your child, it’s mum and dad who will be carrying it in and out of the car every five minutes!
Canstar Blue commissioned I-view to survey 1,300 Australian parents across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a new car seat in the last 3 years – in this case, 974 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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