Child car restraints are seats designed to increase the safety of children travelling in a motor vehicle, especially in the event of an accident. Child car restraints have proven to be safer for children than adult seat belts.
There are a number of child car restraints available. Your child’s age and size will determine which child restraint is most appropriate. A guide to help you choose an appropriate restraint is provided below. Use this in conjunction with manufacturer recommendations.
Infant restraints are to be used from birth through to approximately six months of age. These are rearward facing restraints. The restraint allows your baby to travel in a semi-reclined position with a built-in harness to secure them.
Rearward or forward facing child restraints are to be used from 6 months to approximately 4 years of age. These restraints are designed to hold young children who are able to support their head while seated.
Forward facing seats called Boosters are suited for children aged 4-7 years. These are raised seats that may or may not be equipped with a back rest. They are used in combination with the adult lap sash belt.
Convertible restraints combine two or more of the above features and can therefore be used for a longer period of time by changing the mode, as required.
When your child reaches a height of at least 145cm, they can safely use an adult lap-sash seat belt.
Child car restraints are safety devices designed to reduce the incidence and severity of injuries in the event of a car crash. However, incorrect use of the devices will offer less protection, especially during an accident.
Transport incidents are associated with a significant number of child deaths and injuries. In Australia, between 2002 and 2012, 93,778 children aged 0-16 years suffered injuries as a result of transport incidents.1 In the 2016/17 financial year, 502 children were admitted to Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network for transport related injuries.2
The Road Rules 2008: Part 16 ‘Rules for persons travelling in or on vehicles’, states that all child car restraints sold in Australia must comply with AS/NZS 1754: Child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles.
The law states the following:
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Sydney Children's Hospital recommend that you use an age and size appropriate restraint for your child from birth up to 145cm tall, after which time they may use the adult seat belt. A suitable restraint will offer more protection for your child, in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
The Hospitals also recommends that children aged 12 years and under ride in the back seat of a vehicle, as it is safer than the front seat. Children may also be injured when passenger airbags deploy, causing severe injuries to young children seated in the front seat of a vehicle.
1 Mitchell R, Curtis K, Foster K. A 10 year review of the characteristics and health outcomes for injury-related hospitalisations of children in Australia. Day of Difference Foundation. University of Sydney. 5th May 2017.
2 Kids Health Child Health Promotion Unit, Injury-related hospital admissions to Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. (2016-2017). Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. 2019.