Car Seat Buying Guide
There are guidelines in place for purchasing a car seat for your child. The type of car seat that your child needs changes as they grow, so it is important that you know the requirements.
The Australian car seat laws specify the type of car seats that are appropriate at every stage in a child’s development up until the age of 10. The following is a guide to help you ensure that you are compliant with the laws in every state. (Please note, ages are approximate.)
- Children under 12 months require a rearward facing, Type A (A1 or A2 infant carrier) or A/B car seat. All car seats in this category have a built-in harness system. Type A/B car seats can be adjusted to become forward facing to accommodate children up to 4 years of age.
- Children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years-old require a forward facing Type B or B/E car seat. This type of car seat also includes a built-in harness system. Type B/E convertible car seats can accommodate children of up to 8 years of age as they can be adjusted to form a booster seat for older children.
- Children between the ages of 4 and 8 years-old require a Type E car seat. This car booster seat is used in conjunction with an adult lap or sash seatbelt. Car seats in this category with back and side protection also provide support for sleeping children.
- Children between the ages of 4 and 10 years-old can also travel in Type F car seats. Similar to Type E car seats, Type F booster seats are also used with adult seat belts and can be purchased with side protection and support systems.
- Children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years of age can also travel safely in Type G car seats. These car seats are similar to B/E Type except for the fact they use an internal harness until the age of 8.
A baby’s first journey can be nerve-racking for any parent. With the right safety equipment, however, this experience need not be stressful.
- New-borns must be securely fastened into a rearward facing car seat or baby carrier. Don’t wait until your baby is born to choose. Many hospitals will not discharge the mother and child if no suitable car seat is in place.
- Many Type A car seats come with a carrying handle for transporting sleeping babies and a rocking function for use in the home. Certain models can even be placed in the chassis of a compatible push chair.
- Note, it is imperative that the passenger airbag is turned off when the car seat is in the front of the car.
When the child is of age, they can travel safely in a forward facing car seat. Many convertible car seats can make the switch from rearward facing to forward facing with ease so you don’t have to replace your car seat after a year.
- Forward facing car seats must be held in place with a standard adult diagonal and lap belt. The child must also be securely fastened in the seat using the internal harness which will spread the force of any impact over a wider area.
- Many models feature a built-in reclining function to help your child travel in additional comfort.
- Do not place a forward facing car seat in the front passenger seat unless the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook declares it safe to do so.
Booster Seats and Harnesses
As a child grows, their bones become stronger. However, there are still certain areas of the body such as the skull and the pelvis that need more protection than a standard seatbelt alone can provide.
- High-backed booster seats with a headrest and side wings offer the best protection for your child. Side wings and headrests also offer added comfort and support for sleeping kids.
- Booster seats raise the child to an appropriate height so that the seatbelt sits safely across their chest.
- It is widely recommended that customers avoid backless booster seats and seat cushions as they expose the child to a larger number of injury threats when compared with those with back and side supports.
Installing Your Car Seat
Fitting your car seat correctly is of the upmost importance. Failure to do so can greatly reduce the efficacy of the seat and put your child risk.
- Most modern cars will be equipped with the Isofix system. Isofix enables parents to securely attach the car seat to points within vehicle’s seats, meaning parents can relax safe in the knowledge that the car seat has been installed correctly.
- Your car seat should be fitted as tightly as possible with no excessive forward or sideward motion. If there is too much slack on the seatbelt, try an alternative position or contact the manufacturer for more information.
- Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a universal car seat and some car seats will simply not be able to match the shape of the car’s seating. Certain car seat manufacturers offer lists of compatible cars so check first before purchasing.
Factors to Bear in Mind
- It is advisable to keep your child in rearward-facing for as long as possible. It is also advisable to use a child restraint until the children is 12 years old.
- Ensure you adjust the internal harness of your car seat for every journey to ensure maximum comfort and protection.
- Read fitting instructions carefully and thoroughly.
- When your child’s eye line becomes level with the headrest, it is time to upgrade.
- Always check shoulder straps are at the right height – slightly below the shoulders for Type A seats and above the shoulder for the rest.
Travelling in comfort
Sun shades can keep your children protected against the risk of sun burn and sun stroke when travelling on long journeys. Easy-to-apply and remove, sun shades can ensure your kids arrive at their destination feeling as fresh as possible.
Protect your car
Wee guards, kick mats and seat grabbers can protect the upholstery in your car when the inevitable happens. Affordable and easy-to-install, these protective products can greatly reduce wear and tear on your car.
Monitoring your children
Rear window mirrors allow parents to safely check on children in rear facing car seats that are situated on the back seat of their car. Easily installed, these mirrors mean users can check on their child by glancing in their rear view mirror.