The safest child seat on the market is finally legal in Australia, but hardly any parents know about it

If you haven’t heard of ISOFIX – you’re not alone. It’s widely accepted around the world as the safest child seat system on the market, but many Australians still don’t realise it even exists.

We aren’t plugging some brand here, ISOFIX is an international standard for infant car seats. Other parts of the world have been using the system since as early as 1997, but Australia was slow off the mark when it came to compliance so it has only been legal here since late 2014.

If you’re a parent, then chances are you know the pain of trying to install a child car seat. In fact, around 79 per cent of child seats in cars on Australian roads are said to be installed incorrectly according to a 2009 study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC).

This statistic probably comes as no surprise when you consider how frustrating the seatbelt-fastened method can be. So do yourself a favour and get yourself an ISOFIX-compatible child safety car seat.

Image: Mercedes-Benz

Rather than using a seatbelt, the ISOFIX system uses clips which attach at the base of the seat, plus a top tether. This makes it incredibly quick and easy to install, more rigid and – most importantly – virtually impossible to install incorrectly.

Unfortunately the decade-long delay in making ISOFIX compliant in Australia has meant that a huge number of parents are still fumbling with an old seatbelt-style seat.

For a while there was actually a ‘black market’ for ISOFIX child seats in Australia since many cars were already equipped with the ISOFIX anchor points but the seats themselves could not be purchased legally, leading many savvy parents to source seats from places like the US and Europe.

But don’t rush off to get an ISOFIX seat just yet – your car still needs to be equipped with the correct ISOFIX and top tether anchor points. The good news is because the rest of the world embraced the system a long time ago, chances are your car might already have them.

If your car doesn’t have ISOFIX anchor points or you can’t replace your existing child seat, then the next best option is to visit an authorised restraint fitting station that can properly install your seat for around $35-$75.