Australia’s safest child car seats for 2022 revealed

Child sitting in forward-facing car seat.

Tianna Nadalin

Posted May 10, 2022


Not all car seats are created equal. These are Australia’s safest baby, toddler and child car seats for 2022.

Australia’s safest baby and child car seats for 2022 have been revealed. In its latest round of assessments, the independent Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) has published new ratings for eight child car seats, each tested against updated testing protocols including an intruding door side-impact test and a new test rig that is more representative of current popular vehicles.

CREP is a national consortium including VicRoads, Kidsafe and the Transport Accident Commission. RACV Senior Safety Policy Adviser Elvira Lazar says the program exists to enable parents to compare and find the seats that have the best protection ratings.

For the assessments, test dummies measuring the upper end of the height and weight limit for each type of seat are put into a crash simulation to measure the forces experienced by the dummy on impact. The car seats are scored based on several performance aspects, such as how well they maintain structural integrity and how well they protect the child’s torso in a car crash.

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Person checking straps on baby in rear-facing child car seat.

All seats tested by CREP comply with Australian Standards.


What do the CREP assessments do?


The CREP assessments aim to educate parents about which restraints offer the best protection, by assessing child car seats not only on how they perform in crash tests, but also how easy they are to install and use

Your child's safety is of paramount importance, which is why all seats tested by CREP comply with Australian Standards. While Australian Standards specify a range of design and performance requirements and involve some crash testing, the CREP ratings assess how a seat performs over and above the minimum safety requirements of the standard. This means even a one-star CREP safety rated seat performs over and above the minimum requirements.

“The CREP independent testing is tougher than Australian Standard requirements in order to help parents make an informed decision about which seat to buy based on actual performance, not what they are being told by a salesperson,” Elvira explains.

While overall protection ratings are paramount, Elvira says ease of use should also be taken into consideration as the simpler a car seat is to install and use, the more likely it is to be used correctly.

“The results demonstrate that not all car seats are created equal and price is not a good indicator of safety so parents need to remain vigilant when it comes to choosing the appropriate restraint for their child.”

 

Child hopping into car

How simple a car seat is to install and use is also an important consideration.


Australia's safest baby and child car seats for 2022

CREP has tested many of Australia’s top-selling car seats. From baby and toddler seats to boosters and convertibles, these are the highest-rating child car seats by category.

Single-purpose seats

Single purpose car seats are designed to be used in only one mode: rearward or forward-facing, or as a capsule or booster. That means once a child outgrows their seat, they will need a new one.

Capsules (rearward-facing)

These seats click into a base installed in the car. Some brands also offer an option that clicks into a pram. 

Age of use: Capsules are generally for use from birth to at least six months; however, some are available for use from birth to 12 months.

Highest rated: Of the seats tested since 2021, Nuna Klik Plus tested with ISOFix CF05702 was the highest rated, with a protection score of 2,9.

Full results: To see all seats tested in this category, click here.

 

Capsules (tested from 2021 onward)

Capsules (tested from 2021 onward)

Mode

Protection score

Ease of use score

Nuna Klik Plus tested with ISOFix CF05702

Rearward only (capsule, 0-12 months)

2.9

3.3

Forward facing (tested from 2021)

Forward facing (tested from 2021)

Mode

Protection score

Ease of use score

SecureSafe Shield CS9513

Forward-facing (6 months - 8 years)

3.0

2.5

Convertible seats

All convertible seats can be used for longer because once kids outgrow one mode, the seat can be reconfigured. Most of the seats tend to have higher protection ratings in either rearward-facing or forward-facing mode so it is important to check the safety rating across all modes.

Rearward-facing car seat convertible to forward-facing

Age of use: There are typically three types of rearward to forward convertible seats on the Australian market:

  •  Rearward-facing from birth to at least six months, forward-facing from six months to at least four years
  •  Rearward-facing from birth to at least 12 months, forward-facing from six months to at least four years
  •  Rearward-facing from birth to approximately two-to-three years, forward-facing from 12 months to at least four years.

Highest rated: Of the seats tested since 2021, SecureSafe Defend CS8713 tested with ISOFix CS8713 was the highest rated, with a protection score of 3.9.

Full results: To see all seats tested in this category, click here.

 

Convertible, rear to forward (tested from 2021)

Convertible, rear to forward (tested from 2021)

Mode

Protection score

Ease of use score

SecureSafe Defend tested with ISOfix CS8713

Rearward facing

Forward facing

3.9

3.3

2.3

2.1

Maxi-Cosi Vita Smart tested with seat belt DAU-13-B

Rearward facing

Forward facing

3.3

3.1

2.6

2.5

Forward-facing car seat convertible to booster seat

There are a number of choices for seats that perform consistently as a forward-facing seat and as a booster. 

Age of use: Six months to at least seven years.

Best performer overall: Of the seats tested since 2021, the Mother's Choice Levi GMBE2 2013 was the highest rated, with a protection score of 3.2 in forward-facing mode and 3.4 in booster mode.

Full results: To see all seats tested in this category, click here.

Forward-facing to booster (tested from 2021)

Forward-facing to booster (tested from 2021)

Mode

Protection score

Ease of use score

Mother's Choice Levi GMBE2 2013

Forward-facing

Booster

3.2

3.4

1.8

2.3

Booster seats

Parents are spoilt for choice in this category, with many seats consistently performing above the Australian Standard. Remember that kids should keep using a booster for as long as possible, at least until they can pass the five-step test for good seatbelt fit.

Age of use: Four years to at least seven years old. There are also booster seats that children can use until they are at least 10 years old. 

Highest rated: Of the seats tested since 2021, Mother's Choice Tribe AP GMEA 2013 was the highest rated, with a 3.8 protection score.

Full results: To see all seats tested in this category, click here.

 

Single-purpose car seats

Single-purpose car seats

Mode

Protection score

Ease of use score

Mother's Choice Tribe AP GMEA 2013

Booster only

3.8

2.6

Multi-purpose child car seats

These seats can be used from birth until kids outgrow the restraint and are ready to travel with an adult seatbelt. However, seats can wear out over time, so make sure parts stay in good working condition.

Rearward, forward and booster mode

Age of use: Birth to at least seven years or 145 centimetres tall.

Highest rated: Of the seats tested*, the Infa-Secure Luxi II Treo (CS4313) has its highest protection rating in booster mode with 4.1 stars. Rearward mode received 2.9 stars and forward received a 1.8-star rating.

Full results: To see all seats tested in this category, click here.

*Note that no multi-purpose child car seats have been tested from 2021 onwards, when CREP introduced revised assessment methods. The above results are based on the 2018-2020 protocols. 

Multi-purpose car seats

Multi-purpose car seats

Mode

Protection score

Ease of use score

Infa-Secure Luxi II Treo CS4313

Rearward-facing

Forward-facing

Booster

2.9

1.8

4.1

1.9

1.9

2.6

Tips for choosing the right car seat for your baby or child

With such a big range of seats on the market, you can ask yourself a few questions to narrow your search.

  1. How old and how tall is your child? While age is a good place to start, it’s more important to know how big children are to work out when it will be time to change to another car seat.
  2. What type of car seat do you want? Would you prefer something that converts or one that’s used until another type is needed?
  3. Check the safety rating in all modes. Remember that convertible restraints might be safer in one position over another (for example, four stars in the forward position and three stars when facing rearward).
  4. Check the ease of use score. A seat that is easier to use is more likely to be used correctly.
  5. Does the seat fit well in your car? See how the restraint will fit into your car before you buy it, particularly if you have a smaller car. Having it fitted is also a good idea and the fitter can show you how to use the seat properly too.
  6. Check the price of the seat. Some of the seats that perform better in crash testing are also the cheapest! Aim to buy the safest seat you can afford.

*By law, children need to travel in a suitable restraint and, for children aged seven to 16, that restraint can be a booster seat or seatbelt. It’s important to use the restraint that is suitable for the child’s height.