Your guide to choosing a car seat

By Baby Bunting

From day one your baby's safety will be of paramount importance. That first car trip home will call for a properly fitted restraint to ensure your baby arrives safely. This guide to choosing a car seat will help you know the basics.

Irrespective of your baby or child's age, you must make sure you choose the correct restraint or car seat to provide optimum safety. For example, have you chosen the right car seat for your particular vehicle? Has the restraint been fitted properly? Is the car seat appropriate for your baby or child's length, height or age?

Getting it right can be a bit confusing: according to our national guidelines alone, there are types A through F as Australian standard, not to mention a wide range of brands and styles.

Luckily, Baby Bunting staff are trained to take you through the ins and outs of choosing the right restraint or car seat.

Here’s what you need to know…

Road Safety Laws, know your legal obligations when travelling with children:

  • Up to 6 months

Must be secured in an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, rearward-facing child restraint

  • From 6 months up to 4 years

Must be secured in an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, rearward-facing child restraint or a forward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness

  • From 4 years up to 7 years

Must be secured in an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, forward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat which is properly positioned and fastened

  • 7 years and older

From 7 years of age children can travel in a car secured in either a booster seat or the car’s adult seat belt

Keep in mind...

If a car has two or more rows of seats, children under four must not travel in the front seat. If all seats, other than the front seat, are being used by children under seven years, children aged between four and six years (inclusive) may travel in the front seat, provided they use an approved child restraint or booster seat

For more information refer to your State or Territory’s specific Road Laws Guide as there may be minor variations

Shoulder height markers, how do they work?

The shoulder height markers make it easier for parents and carers to determine if a child restraint is suitable for their child and when the child needs to move to the next type of restraint

Lower shoulder height marker

The lower height marker indicates the minimum shoulder height for a child in the restraint. If the child’s shoulder is below the marker they are too small for the restraint.

Your guide to car seats PI article lower shoulder height marker

Upper shoulder height marker

The upper height marker indicates the maximum shoulder height for a child in the restraint. When the child’s shoulder is at the top marker they are ready to move to the next type of restraint.

Your guide to car seats PI article upper shoulder height marker2

Mode / position change height marker

On some restraints shoulder height markers will determine when the restraint needs to change position or change to the next mode.

When the child’s shoulders reach this marker, the seat must be moved into forward-facing mode to Booster seat mode:

Your guide to car seats PI article forward height marker2

 

 

 

When the child’s shoulders reach this marker, convert the child restraint to booster seat mode:

Your guide to car seats PI article booster height marker

 

 

 

Height is more important than age. Only move to the next restraint when your child’s shoulders reach the height markers. Age is an approximate guide only.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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