Choosing a car seat is a really easy task for some parents, they walk into a baby store, have a look at what is available, make a decision and walk out of the store that same day.
For others, choosing a car seat is the hardest buying decision they’ve made in their life.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told by parents that buying the best car seat was a harder decision than buying the car itself.
For some parents it’s quite an emotionally loaded choice. A car seat exists purely for the safety of our babies and it’s a decision that you want to get right.
Of course we all want to buy what is best and safest for your baby, but sometimes other constraints get in the way. Like our budget and available space in the car. If you have a small car, or are trying to fit three car seats across, even if money wasn’t a factor, sometimes you can’t have the latest and greatest seat on the market.
Also, as someone who isn’t actually buying these car seats, there is a temptation for me to only write about those car seats that are offering the newest, coolest, most exciting, and innovative safety features. But I know that isn’t accessible or realistic for everyone’s budget, car and circumstances.
For this reason I’m going to split this review in three categories:
- Best value for money
- Best mid-range car seats
- Best high end cars seats
I will add that “Best value” doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap”. While I’m definitely trying to make recommendations to suit a range of budgets, car seats can be surprisingly expensive if you’re only planning to spend a couple of hundred dollars. For better or worse you do get what you pay for when it comes to car seats. While there are instances where you are paying for a brand name, a particular aesthetic or gimmicky features, for the most part the price reflects the safety, usability and versatility of a car seat.
However, Australia does have quite high standards when it comes to car seats, so any car seat you buy in Australia should be considered safe. The following are just the best options.
I’m also going to throw in a disclaimer that I can only judge a car seat as a person who is worked in this industry, but not as an expert. There are other companies that actually do crash testing, like RACV
Best Value for money – Baby Jogger City Go – RRP $449 – Market Value $399.
The Baby Jogger City Go offers great value for money for a number of reasons – not just because it’s at a lower price point, but because it does offer great value and features. Firstly, in terms of safely Baby Jogger is competing with the big brand car seats. It has a double layer of impact absorbing material, one through the shell and then another in the adjustable headrest. Then also because the Baby Jogger City Go capsule is designed to accommodate babies up to 12 months, whereas most capsules are designed to go to 6 months. So you’ll get twice as long out of the Baby Jogger City Go Capsule.
It also has an easy adjust harness and for ease of install offers ISOfix, an adjustable base and a built in spirit level. Check out my full review of the Baby Jogger City Go Capsule for more information.
The only constraint to consider is the Baby Jogger City Go Capsule is only compatible with Baby Jogger prams. I absolutely love Baby Jogger prams, so I don’t personally see this as a negative, and while I do believe Baby Jogger prams are great value for money, they are more a mid-range price point.
Best mid-range Capsule – Maxi Cosi Mico Plus – RRP $589 – Market value $449
Maxi Cosi is the biggest brand of capsules in Australia. It’s the most popular capsule brand and also compatible with the most number of prams. Meaning you’ll have a lot more choice to complete your travel system if you do choose to get a Maxi Cosi capsule.
The best capsule in the Maxi Cosi range is the Maxi Cosi Mico Plus. The features offered by the Maxi Cosi Mico Plus is Air Protect Technology through the shell for excellent safety, ISOfix for easy install, split tether strap to make getting the capsule in and out of the car a breeze, and their patented “Cool Baby” fabric to keep baby comfortable in the car.
The Maxi Cosi Mico Plus capsule does only last up to approximately 6 months and then you will need to move on to a 0-4 Convertible car seat.
Best high End Capsule – Cybex Cloud Q – RRP $839. Market Value $749
The Cybex Cloud Q is without doubt the coolest capsule on the planet. Is it for everyone? No, not necessarily, the price point really is prohibitively expensive for most people, however it is super fun and innovative. The most impressive feature of the Cybex Cloud Q is the ability to recline flat while attached to a pram. Which means, unlike other capsules, you can use the Cloud Q capsule as your newborn pram seat for longer periods of time. It’s not recommended to use regular capsules for more than 2 hours at a time, because they have babies in a semi-upright position. This is an incredibly useful and unique feature to the cloud Q.
It is also a 12 month capsule, it has extendable side protection, easy adjust straps, and self tensioning seat belt install.
Best 0-4 Convertible Car Seats
Best Value For Money – Mothers Choice Adore – RRP $439 – Market Value $319.
The Mothers Choice Adore is a very popular car seat at the moment because it does tick a lot of the boxes of higher end car seats at a much more approachable price point. First, Mother’s Choice is manufactured by Maxi Cosi. Mother’s Choice is just their entry level brand. So what you get from a Mother’s Choice car seat is the patented “Air Protect” technology in the head rest, very easy to use car seat at its price point. It’s easy to recline, easy to adjust harness, easy to install using ISOfix. The Mother’s Choice Adore also has quite a compact footprint, so it’ll also suit families with smaller cars as well.
I will point out the fabric quality on the Mothers Choice Adore isn’t as durable as the higher end car seats, so you will need to expect more wear and tear, the fabric is known to pill easily, especially from catching on velcro shoes. And also there isn’t as much of that “Air Protect” material as you’d find in a Maxi Cosi branded car seat.
Best Mid-Range Car Seat – Maxi Cosi Vita Smart
There are so many great mid-range car seats around the $450-$550 price point that it was really hard to choose which one to feature. I feel like I need to make a few honorary mentions to the Maxi Cosi Vita Pro and the Britax Graphene – which I have thoroughly discussed the differences between these three car seats in “Britax Graphene VS Maxi Cosi Vita Smart/Pro”. Also the Maxi Cosi Moda and the Britax Millenia are other great car seats. I think you really can’t go wrong when it comes to car seats at this price point. As I said regarding budget car seats – you get what you pay for. And in these instances you get a really great car seats.
However, when forced to pick one, I love the Maxi Cosi Vita Smart.
For safety you get a substantial amount of “Air Protect” in the head rest, there is a layer of impact absorbing material through the shell, and also it’s a very deep and cocooning seat, so your baby is protected on all sides.
For ease of use, you get everything you would expect at this price. One handed easy to adjust harness and headrest, smoothly tightening straps, magnets to hold the seat belt out of the way while you’re loading newborn into the seat, easy recline mechanism and also very well integrated ISOFIX straps.
It’s also a great slimline car seat, so you get all these features without compromising on space.
Best High End Cars Seat – Britax B-First Click Tight – RRP $849 – Market Value $699.
So if it sounds like I’m unreasonably excited about the Maxi Cosi Vita Smart you should hear how I talk about the Britax B-First Click-Tight. This is an amazing car seat. If I was having another baby (I’m not) and money wasn’t a consideration (it is) and I had a big car (I don’t) then I would absolutely get a Britax B-First Click Tight.
Why do I think the Britax B-First Click Tight is so amazing? Because it really is designed to be easy for parents to install themselves, and it uses the seat belt to install, rather than ISOFIX so it can be fitted easily into any car.
It’s a hard process to explain, so watch this video. Start at 55 seconds to just see the “Click tight” feature that just blows my mind.
I have put this car seat into cars and just following the simple steps in the video above was able to get it fitted as tightly as you’d expect from a professional install.
Other features it offers is extendable side impact protection, easy one handed adjustable harness and headrest, and a push-button harness release button.
The Britax B-First Click Tight is innovative, simply to use, very safe and perfect for parents who want to be able to confidently install their own car seat quickly and easily.
Best G-Type Car Seats ( 1 – 8 Years Harnessed Forward Facing Car Seats)
Best Value For Money- Britax Maxi Guard – RRP $449 – Market Value $369
The Britax Maxi Guard is actually my go-to recommendation for grandparents looking for a forward facing car seat for transporting different grandchildren on different days, because it’s so easy to adjust the height of the headrest and shoulder straps that you could easily have a 2 year old riding in it one day and a 6 year old the next.
The Britax Safe N Sound Maxi Guard isn’t “cheap” if you’re comparing it to something like an unharnessed booster seat, however it offers unparalleled value in terms of how long you can use this seat in 5 point harness mode. The Maxi Guard is designed to accommodate children up to 8-10 years old, which means you can easily use this seat for several years.
Best Mid-Range Harnessed Booster – Maxi Cosi Luna Pro – RRP $599 – Market Value $399
I love the way that Maxi Cosi has introduced a few very clever innovations to G-Type car seats with the Luna Pro. In terms of safety it is a small step up from the Maxi Guard, using Air Protect Technology in the head rest, rather than Maxi Guard’s “bicycle helmet” style of head protection. It is overall a bigger seat than the Maxi Guard, deeper leg support, wider seat and shoulder width, while similarly being tall enough to accommodate 8-10 year olds easily.
The innovations I appreciate with the Luna Pro is firstly the adjustable crotch strap moves forward as you child grows. A toddler and a 10 year old aren’t just taller and wider, they are – for lack of a better word – deeper from the front of their crotch to the back of their butt and the Maxi Cosi Luna Pro (and Luna Smart) are the only G-Type car seats able to make that adjustable.
The other big Pro for the Luna Pro (and the only difference between the Luna Pro and Luna Smart) is the Luna Pro also had an adjustable head support. So if your toddler or preschooler is still falling asleep in the car, you can provide them with a little extra support to rest their heads, to try to prevent the “head flop” from happening.
Best High End Harnessed Booster – Britax Maxi Guard Pro – RRP $579 – Market Value $469
The Britax Maxi Guard Pro is unparalleled in terms of safety for G-Type Car seats. It offers a dual layer of protection, in both the Side Impact Protection in the adjustable headrest and also through the shell for additional layer of protection.
It has Britax’s unique push-button adjustable harness, so it is super easy to adjust to your child each and every time they get in and out of their car seat. As well as super smooth harness straps so they practically never get jammed.
Also the premium fabrics on the Britax Maxi Guard Pro are worth the investment, given you’ll be using this car seat for several years at your child’s peak grubby ages. The fabric of the Maxi Guard Pro continues to look neat and tidy for years, which is a big plus.
I hope you enjoyed this review. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for check out the Best Car Seats of 2019, as many of those models are still very current and relevant. Otherwise please feel free to reach out if you need suggestions that are unique to your circumstances.