Child car restraints greatly reduce the risk of a child being injured or killed in a car accident. Make sure you buy a restraint that is suitable for your car and your child, and that meets mandatory safety requirements.
Child car restraints are fitted in the car with existing adult seatbelts and are generally suitable for children up to 10 years of age.
Choosing the correct style of restraint
The style of restraint you should use will be dependent on your child’s size and weight:
- up to 9 kg (or 70 cm in length) - infant restraint rearward facing
- 8 kg to 18 kg - child seat forward facing
- 14 kg to 26 kg - booster seat
- 14 kg to 32 kg - child safety harness.
Children have outgrown the booster seat when they outgrow its weight range or when their eyes are level with the top of the seat back or head rest when seated on the booster.
Child car restraints reduce the risk of injury and death in a car accident.
When children are not properly restrained they are more likely to suffer serious injuries or die in car accidents. Using adult seatbelts too early, incorrectly and using lap-only seatbelts increase a child’s risk of injury or death.
- Be careful when buying online. You should check that your child car restraints and booster cushions:
- meet mandatory Australian safety requirements
- are allowed to be used under the road rules in your state or territory. Each state and territory has rules for the types of child car restraints that are allowed to be used in motor vehicles – check with your local road authority for more information.
- Look for a label that says the child car restraint complies with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754. If there isn’t one, do not buy it.
- Make sure the restraint is suitable for your type of car and your child's size or weight.
- If the child car restraint is second-hand, check that it is in good condition. Do not buy or use a second-hand restraint if it is showing signs of wear such as cracks, frayed straps or broken buckles, or if it has been in an accident, even if it looks fine.
- Do not use restraints that are more than 10 years old as they lose their reliability and may not give a child enough protection in an accident.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have fitting instructions or they are hard to understand, contact the manufacturer or an authorised safety restraint fitting station. Some specialist retailers offer an installation service and organisations that hire out restraints normally provide a fitting and/or adjustment service.
- Make sure the child car restraint is properly fitted and adjusted. The restraint or harness should fit snugly with no slack and should not be twisted.
- Install the restraint in the rear seat of the car. Booster seats can be used in the front passenger seat under certain circumstances.
- If you decide to install a rearward facing restraint in a position where an airbag is fitted, first check with the car manufacturer that it is safe to do so.
- Use the restraint properly for every trip, even when driving at low speeds or on short trips, or when the car is stationary. Car accidents can happen at any time.
- Do not wrap your child in blankets or other swaddling before putting them in the restraint. This could reduce the restraint's ability to save your child in an accident.