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Child car restraint reviews

These restraints all meet the stringent requirements of the Australian standard, but some are easier to install and use than others
 
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01 .Introduction

Child car restraints

We review 20 children's car seats, of which:

  • 10 are convertible rearward-facing seats suitable for your child from birth to four years of age and priced from $149 to $659, and
  • 10 are forward-facing seats suitable for your child from six months to four years of age and priced from $220 to $489. Most of these seats can also convert to a booster seat, which can extend their use to children aged up to eight. 
  • The Infa-Secure Luxi Ride and Mirage are four-stage seats that can be used for newborns up to children eight years of age. These seats are convenient as you won't need to replace them as your child grows.

We assess these seats for ease of use and reveal which car seats:

  • have buckles and seatbelts that are easy to adjust
  • are the easiest to fit and tilt the seat
  • are the easiest to clean
Note: CREP results were last updated in February 2011 so there are no CREP performance ratings for the models on test here.

When looking for a car restraint, consider:

  • the age and size of your child, and
  • the size of the restraint. Will it fit in your car?

For more information about children's Transport options, see Travel.

Recall update

20/11/2012: The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has released a recall for over 60,000 child car seats due to safety concerns. See the full media release.

Safety on the road


Road accidents are the major cause of deaths in children aged under 14 years, and research has found about 60% of children are incorrectly restrained in their seats. Common errors can involve the tether strap not being connected, the seatbelt incorrectly threaded or not buckled, or the anchorage point being used the wrong way.

Your child’s safety is your priority, and when it comes to travelling in a car there’s a lot to take on board. What type of car restraint do you need? Does your car have the features to fit a restraint? What’s the law on car restraints? How do you fit the restraint and secure your child properly? These are all questions you’ll have to consider.

The Australian Standard

All child restraints sold in Australia must meet stringent Australian Standard AS/NZS1754 requirements, considered among the toughest in the world. If fitted and used properly, any can be expected to provide very good crash protection for your child. The standard was last amended in May 2011, when an earlier 1995 version of the standard was removed and replaced with the 2010 version, so the mandatory standard is now based on the 2000, 2004 and 2010 versions of the standard.

The mandatory requirements for car seats include aspects of:

  • design
  • construction
  • performance
  • instructions
  • marking, and
  • packaging
All restraints must have a tether strap and five-point harness with a single-point adjustment and quick-release buckle. Components must be durable and rigid, with no sharp points that could harm a child, and the car’s anchoring system must meet requirements to ensure the restraint is compatible with different car seats. Each seat must be subjected to performance tests that simulate front, side and rear impacts and come with instructions about installation, use, maintenance and general information. There’s also a range of warning statements that must be permanently and legibly marked on the restraint.

CREP 

The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP), funded by government and motoring organisations, periodically test current standards-certified models to find which ones offer protection beyond the standard requirements. The program conducts simulated crash tests on restraints to provide consumers with information about the level of occupant protection in a crash as well as assessing how easy they are to ease and install. A rating (out of five) is then applied to all tested seats. The program is supported by the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), the NRMA Motoring & Services and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV).

What's the law?

New rules rolled out in 2010 give children greater protection when travelling.

  • Under six months Children must be seated in a rearward-facing child restraint or infant capsule. 
  • Six months to four years old Children are to use a rear- or forward-facing car restraint with an inbuilt harness. Children under four years old can’t travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
  • Four to seven years Children are to use a forward-facing restraint or booster seat. 
  • If all back seats are occupied by children under four, a child between four and seven can occupy the front seat in a forward-facing restraint or booster seat. 
  • If your child is too tall or heavy for their age group’s restraint you can move them to the next restraint. 
  • Taxis are exempt from these laws, but parents are encouraged to bring their own car restraint when using one.

Models tested

Convertible rearward-facing restraints

  • Babylove Ezy Switch Charcoal BL72A/2010
  • Go Safe Cleo 4790
  • Infa-Secure Cosi-Safe CS40CS
  • Infa-Secure Style-Rider CS41SR
  • Infa-Secure Luxi Ride (designed for use as a rearward-facing restraint so can accommodate a newborn to a child eight years of age)
  • Infa-Secure Mirage (designed for use as a rearward-facing restraint so can accommodate a newborn to a child eight years of age)
  • Mother's Choice Emperor #009802
  • Mother's Choice Carrera #008730
  • Safety 1st DB2010 Car Seat Nero GT #11657
  • Safe-N-Sound Meridian AHR Tilt&Adjust Head Rest 3509
  • Safe-N-Sound Platinum AHR Air Cushion 3515
  • ZuZu GS2010 Car Seat Lexington #011693

Convertible forward-facing restraints

  • Infa-Secure Comfi Cruiser
  • Infa-Secure Roamer+
  • Maxi-Cosi Complete Air
  • Infa-Secure Luxi Ride (designed for use as a rearward-facing restraint so can accommodate a newborn to a child eight years of age)
  • Infa-Secure Mirage (designed for use as a rearward-facing restraint so can accommodate a newborn to a child eight years of age)
  • Cargo Marathon
  • Babylove Ezy Combo
  • Safe-n-Sound Maxi Rider AHR
  • Mother's Choice Prospect
  • Safety 1st Swish Air

How we test

Ease of use Our tester, Peter Horvath, assesses each seat for fitting in both rearward- and forward-facing modes, clarity of instructions, adjustment of the seatbelt and buckles, ease of tilting and removing the seat and removing the cover for cleaning. He also asks a female to assess each seat for ease of use and takes her comments into consideration. 

We were unable to conduct performance tests on these seats, however all on test must pass the Australian Standard AS/NZS1754 to be sold, which includes a performance aspect. We're expecting that CREP results to become available later in the year, which we'll add to this review to give a clearer picture about how they perform. 

Useful contacts

Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re going to install the seat yourself, but it’s certainly worthwhile visiting an authorised fitting station. These centres (listed on your state’s motoring organisation website - see below) have experts that for a small fee can inspect, adjust or fully install your restraint. By using a restraint that’s correctly installed, you can significantly reduce the risk to your child in an accident.

For more information on child restraints, or to find your nearest fitting station, contact Kidsafe Australia: www.kidsafe.com.au


NSW 

Victoria 

Western Australia 

Queensland 

South Australia 

Northern Territory 

ACT 

 
 
 
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