First of all, the Child Restraint Evaluation Programme (CREP) run by a group of government agencies and motorist organisations, advises parents must choose a seat that complies with Australian Standard and is marked accordingly.
Children across Australia up to seven years of age must now be safely fastened into the right restraint for their age and size.
Ingrid Just from independent consumer group, Choice says parents need to choose a seat that is not only the right for the size of their child, but is also a good fit for the car it is being installed in.
“Parents should not be afraid to try different models of car seats in their car, as many are differently contoured and may not fit as well to your car.”
“They shouldn’t just think the more money they spend, the better. They need to make sure it fits the car correctly, meets the requirements of the child’s size and durable.”
“Don’t necessarily go for age, look at your child’s size.”
Once purchased, parents need to ensure the seat is installed correctly.
“Installing and using the restraint properly is just as important as choosing the right seat. Learning how to use the seat, for example, tightening the seat belts is just as vital as choosing the right seat,” Just says.
Child car seats also rates in Choice’s top ten things not to buy second hand.
“You may be compromising on safety if you do not know the person and the history of the seat. You could be buying one that has been in an accident previously and should not go there.”
Checklist for buying a child seat
Make sure it:
1. Complies with Australian Standard and is marked accordingly
2. Is the right size for the weight of your child
3. Is a snug fit for your car
4. Is installed correctly
1. Use a car seat more than 6 years old
2. Use a car seat after it has been in an accident
3. Use a second hand car seat if you do not know the history of the seat
4. Think the more you spend, the safer it is. It needs to fit the car well and be installed correctly
5. Install your child’s car seat in front of your car’s airbags
The following table is a guide to selecting a suitable child restraint for all States and Territories.
0 to 6 months
less than 8 kilograms (kgs)
Rearward facing baby capsule or infant restraint that is properly fastened and adjusted
6 months to 4 years
8 to 18 kgs
Rearward or forward facing infant restraint with built-in harness that is properly fastened and adjusted
4 years to 7 years
14 to 26 kgs
Booster seat with H-harness or a booster seat restrained by a seatbelt that is properly fastened and adjusted
Keep your child in the most appropriate restraint suitable for their age and size. Move them to the next category when he/she no longer physically fits.
If your child is too small to move into the next level of restraint, you should keep your child in the lower level restraint for as long as possible (for example, a child who has turned four but is too small for a booster seat should remain in a forward facing child restraint with a built-in harness).
If your child is too large to fit into a child restraint specified for your child's age, your child may move into the next level of restraint.
A child is too tall for a booster seat when the level of the child’s eyes is above the level of the back of the booster seat.
Top ten car seats on the market for safety based on safety and ease-of-use:
Rearward facing restraints (0-6 months)
1. IGC Safety 1stOne-Safe Infant Carrier
2. Bambino Chicco Keyfit
3. Safe-N-Sound Baby Safety Capsule
4. Safe-N-Sound Compaq
5. Safe-N-Sound Meridian AHR Tilt & Adjust
6. Steelcraft Strider DLX Infant Carrier
7. Babylove Snap-N-Go
8. Infa-Secure Turn-A-Tot
9. IGC GoSafe Cleo
10. Safe-N-Sound Compaq Deluxe
Frontward facing restraints (6 months-4 years)
1. Babylove Ezy Combo
2. Safe-N-Sound Meridian AHR Tilt & Adjust
3. Infa-Secure Exceed EHP
4. IGC Dorel Safety 1st Swish Air
5. Infa-Secure Comfi-Cruiser
6. Cargo Marathon Series
7. Safe-N-Sound Maxi Rider AHR
8. Hipod Senator Series
9. IGC GoSafe Cleo
10. IGC ZuZu Commander Scenera
Booster seats (4-7 years)
1. Safe-N-Sound Hi-Liner SG
2. Infa-Secure Vario Kid
3. Safe-N-Sound Hi-Liner with ASC
4. Infa-Secure Exceed EHP
5. Safe-N-Sound Explorer with ASC
6. Babylove Ezy Combo
7. Cargo Marathon Series
8. Safe-N-Sound Maxi Rider AHR with ASC
9. Infa-Secure Travel Max
10. Infa-Secure Trek 8
*Source: Child Restraint Evaluation Programme’s February 2011 testing
Selecting the appropriate restraint is only the first step in protecting your child. No restraint will work properly or prevent injury if it has not been fitted correctly in accordance with the manufacturer's directions.
1. Always follow restraint manufacturer’s installation instructions
2. Most modern cars have an anchor point behind the rear seat which a child restraint can be attached to.
3. Child restraints should always be fitted in the rear seat of the car.
4. In rearward and frontward facing restraints, ensure the in-built harness is adjusted for a comfortable but firm fit with no slack so that the harness straps are straight and in flat contact with the child
5. In booster seats, make sure the slash belt crosses the mid-shoulder and is in contact with the child’s chest. Make sure the lap belt sits low across the pelvis
6. Use an authorised restraint fitter if you are unsure how to fit the child restraint.
Having a child can be an expensive time and parents may want to consider the economical option of hiring a baby capsule from an authorised organisation, such as, a maternity hospital or local council to reduce costs who will install it for you.
Visit your local motoring authority’s website for further information on child seats, including details of local authorised installers.
QLD: Queensland Transport
SA: Transport SA
VIC: Vic Roads
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