Buying an appropriate car restraint for your child is imperative for their safety. There are strict laws in place in Australia whereby all children under seven must use a child restraint or booster seat when travelling in a car.
You will need to have one installed in your car before you can take your baby home from hospital, so don’t leave it too late!
What should I look for?
There is a huge range of child restraints available, which can make choosing one daunting. This is not an item you want to skimp on cost-wise, however just because a restraint has a huge price tag doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the safest, most comfortable option for your baby.
When buying a car restraint, the most important factors to consider are the age and size of your child and whether the restraint will fit into your car.
Children under six months of age need to use a rearward-facing child restraint or infant capsule. It’s a good idea to get one fitted to your car a few weeks before your baby’s due date, and to practice fitting and removing it.
The RTA has a handy guide to safety ratings which you can view here
Each child restraint has been tested under the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) and given a star rating out of five for protection and ease-of-use, which will help you make the best choice.
Choice magazine has also reviewed child restraints and there’s information on installation and securing your child here
What child restraint should I buy?
- Children under six months need a rearward-facing child restraint or infant capsule. Infant capsules come in travel system compatible versions, so you can easily disconnect them from your car and transfer them to the applicable pram. These are very handy if your baby has fallen asleep in transit.
- Children aged between six months and four years need an approved, rearward-facing child restraint or forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness. Another good option is a convertible car seat which is suitable from newborn up to around the age of four (depending on the weight of the child).
- Children aged between four and seven need an approved forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness or approved booster seat.
All child restraints need to carry the Australian Standard (AS/NZS) 1754 label and when in use, the restraint must be correctly anchored to the vehicle using an Australian Standard's approved anchorage system.
Most cars have an anchor point behind the rear seat which a child restraint can be attached to. Child restraints should always be fitted in the rear seat of the car. If you are unsure how to fit your child restraint, or would like to have it installed professionally, contact your local motoring authority for details of approved fitters.
According to Choice magazine, there's nothing to recommend buying a child restraint second-hand. The one possible exception to this could be if you are fully aware of the history of the restraint – for example, if you receive it from a good friend or relative who bought theirs new and who have not been in an accident of any kind.
For more information on child restraints, or to find your nearest fitting station, visit www.kidsafe.com.au
“Before our daughter was born, we hired a baby capsule through the hospital as we knew we would only be using for a limited amount of time. It cost $90 for six months and it was professionally fitted for us, which gave us huge peace of mind. Once she turned six months, we bought the Babylove Ezy Combo, which is a forward-facing car seat/booster seat. It had the top CREP rating by the RTA and was relatively inexpensive. We found the forward-facing option much better as our daughter can see us clearly and can watch what’s going on. It’s also much easier to settle her from the front seat.” – Jane Lawless, mum to Frankie, 15 months.
+ Did you know?
A research study funded by the RTA found that children who are restrained incorrectly are up to seven times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than children who are restrained correctly.
This article was written for Birth by Nicola Conville
Read more articles about baby products here
Last revised: Saturday, 15 December 2012
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.