Mak­ing the switch

Won­der­ing when to move your child up into a tod­dler or booster seat? Here’s what you need to know…

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Ev­ery­thing you need to know about car safety re­straints

Whether you’re driv­ing your kids to and from the shops, play dates or soc­cer prac­tice, you’ll want to get them from A to B safely. So if your kids are start­ing to out­grow their in­fant or tod­dler seats, it may be time to start shop­ping around for a more suit­able car res­traint. But with child weight, size and height lim­its to con­sider as well as the va­ri­ety of re­straints on of­fer, it can be a con­fus­ing and daunt­ing ex­er­cise. So where do you start? Read on and we’ll help you make the right choice.


From the time you drive them home from hospi­tal up un­til the time they’re ready to use an adult seat­belt, it will be your job to en­sure they are in the cor­rect car res­traint. Ev­ery child is dif­fer­ent, but as a gen­eral rule, it’s rec­om­mended that you only move them up when they no longer com­fort­ably fit their cur­rent child car seat. Most chil­dren will be re­quired to travel in a car seat or booster seat un­til they’re about 10 to 12 years old.


As im­por­tant as the type of car or booster seat is, en­sur­ing that it’s cor­rectly fit­ted and ad­justed is equally as crit­i­cal to safety. Ac­cord­ing to Bri­tax, car crashes are one of the lead­ing causes of child death in Aus­tralia, yet around 70 per cent of our small­est trav­ellers ride in child re­straints that are not fit­ted or used cor­rectly.

Re­quire­ments vary be­tween the states and ter­ri­to­ries, but all child car re­straints are re­quired to meet the Aus­tralian Stan­dards (AS/NZS 1754), which cov­ers ma­te­ri­als, de­sign, con­struc­tion, per­for­mance, test­ing and la­belling.

As a gen­eral rule, buy­ing or us­ing hand-me-down sec­ond-hand car or booster seats is not rec­om­mended be­cause older mod­els may no longer com­ply with cur­rent safety stan­dards. How­ever, if you are lean­ing to­wards a sec­ond-hand model, en­sure it’s never been in a car crash, isn’t more than six years old, doesn’t dis­play any crack­ing or fray­ing and can be safely in­stalled in your car. Un­less you know its com­plete his­tory, it might be worth giv­ing it a miss.

Most chil­dren will be re­quired ot travel in a car seat or booster seat un­til they are about 10 to 12 years old.

So here’s a quick glance at what the min­i­mum le­gal re­quire­ments are in Aus­tralia by age group:

Ba­bies un­der six months must use a rear­ward-fac­ing child res­traint with an in­built har­ness. Chil­dren aged be­tween six

months and four years must use a rear­ward-fac­ing or for­ward-fac­ing child res­traint with an in­built har­ness. Chil­dren aged be­tween four

and seven years must use a for­ward­fac­ing ap­proved child res­traint with an in­built har­ness, or an ap­proved booster seat with a fas­tened and ad­justed seat­belt or a child safety har­ness. Chil­dren aged seven years

and older can use a child res­traint or adult seat­belt depend­ing on their size.

If your child is too small for the child res­traint spec­i­fied for their age, they should be kept in their cur­rent child res­traint un­til it is safe for them to move to the next level.

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