We assess ease of use for a range of car seats that have been crash tested by the child restraint evaluation program (CREP). Our buying guide will help you decide which type of child car restraint you need. For ISOFIX models see our separate ISOFIX review.
Our expert testers give each seat a thorough workout to help find the models that:
We assess child restraints based only on ease of use and ease of fitting, but the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) website provides crash test information on a number of these models.
List of brands we tested in this review.
The price we paid in July 2016.
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Our recommendations take the CREP (Child Restraint Evaluation Program) into account. Only models that receive three or more stars in all modes, in addition to meeting our ease of use requirements, can be recommended.
Our testers assess 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, adjusting the headrest and fitting the harness around the child.
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Road accidents are the major cause of deaths in children aged under 14 years, and research has found about 70% of car seats are not installed correctly. 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. A car seat that is easy to use can decrease the risk of a seat being incorrectly fitted.
When first fitting a car seat, we do recommend getting your car seat fitted at an authorised fitting station. Contact Kidsafe in your area to find your nearest one.
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We assess child restraints based only on ease of use and ease of fitting, but the Child Restrain Evaluation Program (CREP) provides crash test information on these models.
Our overall recommendations take these results into account.
Whether the car seat is available to purchase with ISOFIX compatibility. In some cases , the CREP crash test results only apply to products with seat belt mode only, rather than variations that have both ISOFIX and seat belt modes.
Rearward-facing restraint/infant carrier: This is suitable from birth and has a built-in harness. The seat is placed so that the baby faces the rear of the car. There are various varieties available, with some only suitable for very small babies and others suitable for children up to 2 or 3 years old.
Forward-facing restraint: This has a built-in harness. The child faces the front of the car like an adult passenger would. Most are suitable for babies from six months up to age 4; some allow the child to remain in the harness until around age 8. We recommend keeping your child in a harness for as long as they are able to fit in it.
Booster seat: This is for older children (age 4 and over) who are still too small to use an adult seat belt on its own. Older models may not have a back which supports the head; while it's not illegal to use ones that have been approved by the 2004 standard, these types have no side protection and we advise against them. Booster seats with backrests meet safer, more recent side-protection standards.
Convertible seat: Several of the seats will operate in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes, or will convert from a forward-facing seat to a booster.
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A Similar model is identical in most aspects except for a few. This means that a majority of its test results are identical so you can reasonably expect to get the same results from the model we tested, but for those aspects which aren't identical, we'll note these as "Not Tested" in the Compare tables.
A Tested model refers to a model that is still current and available in the Australian market. You should be able to order this model through your local retailer, or find it online.
These models can't be found in retailers or online or are no longer manufactured. You may still find these models on second hand websites, or in second hand dealers. Test methods may change over time, so criteria which can't be directly compared will contain an N/A.
An Identical model is exactly that. Performance characteristics will be identical and the only difference will be something trivial such as colour, which won't have an impact on performance.
These are models we haven't yet tested but that are available.