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How To Choose A Car Seat

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Car seat, capsule… and wtf is Isofix?!?
Our guide to buying the best baby transporter for your family.

If you have a car and are having a baby, you’re going to need a car seat. They’re a big purchase and signal ‘you’re having a baby’ like no other, and for peace of mind and practicality, they’re an important purchase to get right.

From the top, all our car seats are safe. To be sold in Australia, brands have to comply with thorough and complex safety regulations. With safety taken care of, this guide is here to help you break down the models and features that best suit your family and lifestyle, from capsule to car seat, rear or front facing, we are here to help make this big decision, easy.

Capsule or Car Seat

A common point for deliberation amongst parents, do you pick a capsule to accommodate the newborn stage only for ease or convenience, or go straight into a car seat to get better longevity and use? It all comes down to what you value most and how you will be using it.

A baby capsule is a rear facing restraint with an inbuilt harness best used for babies up until about 12 months (or depending on your child’s size). Another option is the car seat. It has a larger lifespan with most models suitable from newborn until 4 years old (with some styles accommodating children up to 8). All car seats grow and expand with your child thanks to fully adjustable harnesses, shoulder and head rests and can easily convert from rear facing (recommended until at least 6 months old) to front facing.

Unlike car seats, capsules are portable and can be easily transported with ease in and out of the car, attached to your pram or carried on your arm, all to minimise disruption to you and your baby. A capsule is a great idea for those parents who are frequently in the car for short journeys, particularly in and around nap time. A safe place for them to rest when you’re driving, when you park, you can take it out and carry your baby without interrupting their sleep to your next location, or attach it to your compatible pram.

Here are a few things to consider whether you are looking to add a capsule or car seat to your parenting arsenal:

1. Your Pram

Capsule

The saying, ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg’ definitely applies here! What do you choose first, the pram to match the capsule, or the capsule to match the pram. There are certain capsule models that are compatible with more pram models than others, and this is something you may want to consider if you have your heart set on a pram already! At one end of the price spectrum, the Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity™ ISOFIX is compatible with Redsbaby JIVE⁵ and METRO⁵, METRO⁵, Bugaboo Fox 5 Complete, as well as selected Steelcraft and Baby Jogger prams and at the other end of the scale, the Cybex Cloud Q Capsule & Base is a perfect fit for your Cybex pram but can also be used with some Joolz, Bugaboo and Edwards & Co models.

Car seat

Not applicable here! When your baby is a newborn, the bassinet attachment for your pram is a great option, or if they are older, a standard pram seat.

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2. Portability

Capsule

A primary reason as to why you may be looking down the capsule route is for the benefit of portability. Whether it can be transported effortlessly, with its precious cargo safely intact, without injuring yourself is key, so the weight of the frame may be a point of consideration. The Bugaboo Turtle by Nuna Car Seat + Base proudly features a lightweight, compact design with an ergonomic, 3 position adjustable carry handle, wrapped up in a tiny 4kg package, yet sturdy enough to last the test of time.

Car Seat

A car seat is not as portable or interchangeable.

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3. Car Size

Capsule

Capsules tend to be slightly bulkier than car seats due to their separate base, so because of this, your car size is something to consider. Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity™ ISOFIX are both compact, and a great choice for a smaller car.

Car Seat

If you have multiple children and car seats to fit in the back, or a smaller car to begin with, consider the Infasecure Attain More Isofix and Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene TEX. Sleek, stylish and adjustable, they are the narrowest child restraints on the market, perfect for a small car, or if you have three children.

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4. Comfort

Whilst all child restraints provide an incredibly comfortable experience for your baby, some models have gone the extra mile to include additional features to make your child’s experience extra plush.

Capsule

In terms of recline and body alignment, the Cybex Cloud Q Capsule & Base is elite, with an ergonomic lie flat position when outside the car, complete with a reclining backrest to ensure optimum comfort. Because we know that breathability is key, particularly in the diverse Australian climate, the Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity™ ISOFIX is thoughtfully covered with a Thermo5 high performance fabric blend with bamboo and charcoal, guaranteeing a comfortable and ventilated ride. Similarly, the Bugaboo Turtle by Nuna Car Seat + Base is crafted with the finest merino wool for optimal climate control, all whilst being removable and washable, important for those inevitable spills, mess, or sticky situations.

Car Seat

Our children grow and develop at varying rates and stages, and therefore, it is imperative that your child’s car seat can accommodate these changes in order to ensure a comfortable ride throughout the years. The Britax Safe-N-Sound B-FIRST ClickTight TEX is a winner, with its built in hassle free harness, not only keeping your baby safe and secure, but allowing that flexibility and adjustment to cater to their size as they grow. To add to this, there is dual layer head and torso cushioning, which not only maximises comfort, but gives protection in the event of an accident. Lastly, the seat is lined in a clever combination of Thermo5 and Nanotex, making it resistant to stains and moisture, causing spills to cleverly bead up and roll off your seat. This means that when those accidents happen on the go, your seat is invincible!

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5. Age

Capsule

A capsule has short product lifespan. Most of our models suggest use from newborn until 12 months (the Infasecure Adapt More Infant Carrier is the only exception being 0-6 months). This is dependant on the size and limb proportion of your baby, with some potentially outgrowing the capsule before this. If your baby is tracking on the lower percentile, you may choose a capsule designed for premature or smaller babies. The Britax Safe-n-Sound Unity™ ISOFIX has been tested and designed for low birth weight and premature babies.

Car seat

Now let’s get technical here! Australian law states that newborns must be secured in a rear facing car seat at all times whilst travelling and can swap to a front facing restraint once the child reaches 6 months. However, it is ideal for your baby to remain in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible due to better safety and protection prospects, minimizing your child’s spine and head injuries in the event of an accident. The Britax Safe-N-Sound Graphene TEX has an option for your child to remain rearward facing until they are between 2 and 3 years old, the same goes for the Infasecure Attain More Isofix and Infasecure Achieve More, optimising the safety of your child for longer. Some models can go straight to front facing from 6 months, but please note, their size is the correct guide here. Children can only face forward if they are big enough and reach the shoulder height markers on their seat.

Children should remain in a car seat until they are 4 years old and must travel in a fitted booster seat or child restraint until they are 7. You can expect to get 4 years out of most car seats, but if you want to go even further and avoid the booster seat altogether, both Britax Safe-N-Sound Maxi Guard Pro TEX and the Infasecure Achieve More accommodate children up to 8. They are both fitted with an easily adjustable harness, shoulder and headrest to mould and grow with your child, providing car ride durability.

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6. Installation

A safe car seat is a car seat that is safely installed. If you are a first-time parent, most hospitals require documentation that shows that your newborn car seat has been professionally fitted. We have a list of recommended providers here who offer professional installation of your capsule, car seat or booster. When you are at the appointment, our top tip is to ask all the questions and learn how to fit it yourself. On average, you will remove and reinstall your car seats around six times a year, so the more comfortable and familiar you are with the process, the better.

ISOFIX

This is a nifty little system that makes installing your car seat a breeze, no fumbling around with seat belts.

To install a car seat with ISOFIX, you'll need a vehicle equipped with ISOFIX anchor points. Most modern cars come with these anchor points already built-in. They're usually hidden between the seat cushions or tucked away in the car's structure. Just make sure to check the compatibility of your car seat with the ISOFIX system before making your purchase.

ISOFIX provides a rock-solid connection between your car seat and your vehicle, offering enhanced stability during your journeys while also being super simple to use. The system typically consists of two rigid metal bars or connectors that are attached to your car seat. These connectors simply click into the ISOFIX anchor points in your vehicle, creating a secure and reliable link.

Seat Belt

First and foremost, seat belt installation offers flexibility. It allows you to use your car seat in different vehicles without the need for specific anchor points. So whether you're borrowing a friend's car or using a rental, you know that you can install your car seat simply and effectively.

To begin, find a suitable seating position in your vehicle where you can install the car seat securely, facing the correct direction (forward facing or rear facing) based on your child's age and weight. Ensure that the seat belt is long enough to reach around the car seat and has a locking mechanism to keep it in place. Then, thread the seat belt through the designated belt path on the car seat, making sure it goes behind the correct belt guides and isn't twisted.

Next, buckle the seat belt and ensure it is securely latched. To achieve a proper fit, gently press down on the car seat while pulling the seat belt tight. Double-check that there is no excessive movement or slack in the belt, ensuring a snug and secure installation.

Remember, always consult the car seat's instruction manual for specific installation guidelines as they may vary between models. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions to guarantee the best possible fit and safety for your child.

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ClickTight

ClickTight takes the hassle out of installation and brings convenience to the forefront.

First, you'll want to position your car seat in the desired seating location, ensuring it's facing the right way based on your child's age and weight. Next, locate the ClickTight panel, usually located at the front of the car seat, which reveals a pathway for the seat belt. Then thread the seat belt through the designated pathway, buckle it up, and secure it in place. That satisfying "click" lets you know it's properly locked and ready to go.

Another great benefit of ClickTight is its foolproof nature. This innovative technology ensures a tight and secure fit with minimal effort. We also like that most ClickTight car seats come with built-in indicators that let you know when you've achieved the correct tension, ensuring a proper installation every time.

Capsule

The Bugaboo Turtle by Nuna Car Seat + Base and the Infasecure Adapt More Infant Carrier includes the Isofix base, for easy, intuitive, and safe installation at all times in and out of your car. Our top tip? If you’re moving between vehicles, perhaps with grandparents or carers, consider buying two corresponding bases and once capsule. This saves you the hassle of having to remove and reinstall the whole fitment every time, or buying two capsules, which is costly!

Car Seat

All our car seat models offer a straightforward follow along guide to allow you to take the seat in and out of the car without worrying whether your child’s safety has been compromised by your DIY re-installation! Britax Safe-N-Sound B-FIRST iFix TEX is a solid choice, as it comes with a click tight installation system and visual level indicator designed to aid in the correct rear-ward installation angles, again giving you a little bit of extra confidence that your child is safe and ready to ride!

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7. Safety

We want to reiterate that all car seats are safe! That is why they can be sold in Australia in the first place! All our models, whether capsule or car seat, have added safety features, going above and beyond standard requirements. From Air Coccon Technology to Air Protect Superior Side Impact Protection, all mechanisms are designed to reduce and protect impact in the unfortunate event of a crash. The Cybex Cloud Q Capsule & Base has achieved the highest safety rating out of all capsules, with its Telescopic System absorbing the force of side impact collision. And the Britax Safe-N-Sound B-FIRST iFix TEX has a cleverly-designed closed protective shell featuring ISOFIX compatibility and advanced side impact cushion technology protection.

Whatever model you choose, make installation a priority and choose a reputable installer in your area, see our Australia wide list or a list of recommended providers here.

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