Not so long ago parents could pile the kids in the car and leave the baby asleep in the bassinette on the back seat while ducking out to the corner store. Taking your young children in the car today is not that easy.
There are rules and legal legislation that outlines how a child should travel in a car. Breaking this law in Queensland leaves a driver facing fines of $300 plus three demerit points of their licence. These regulations can even impact on the type of family car you drive.
Considerations Before Buying Your Car Restraint:
Legal Age and Weight Range (Queensland Government)
0 – 6 months
6 months – 1 year
6 months – 4 years
4 – 7 years
Less than 8 kg
8 – 12 kg
8 – 18 kg
14 – 26 kg
Requires rearward facing
Requires rearward or forward facing infant restraint
Requires forward facing child restraint with built – in harness
Requires a booster seat with an
H- harness or secured adult
Each state will have its own legal requirement. Visit the relevant website address below:
New South Wales http://rta.nsw.gov.au
Northern Territory http://nt.gov.au
South Australia http://dtei.sa.gov.au
Western Australia http://ors.wa.gov.au
When your child is heavier than the required weight for age the securing buckle may not adequately withstand the extra weight on impact. In this situation parents are forced to choose the best alternative which is usually the next size child restraint. To avoid this dangerous situation with your child, encourage healthy eating habits to maintain a healthy weight. ‘taste it – easy baby & toddler recipes with professional child health advice’
As you can see in the above chart, Queensland law states a child needs to be in a child restraint with an inbuilt harness until 4 years old or 18 kg. After this an H-harness can be used with a booster seat until 26 kg. This creates an added expense for many parents wanting to pass on a child restraint to a newborn but the toddler is too young and light to qualify for the booster seat. They will need to purchase the car restraint with an inbuilt harness.
Once your child’s eye level is at the top of their car restraint they are ready to move to a booster seat. In some situations this maybe an exception to the age or weight rule.
When your child’s eye level is in line with the top of the vehicle seat they are no longer required to use a booster. In some situations this maybe an exception to the age or weight rule. A child may sit without a booster but continue using the harness until they reach 32 kg.
A child should never sit in the front, side or rear facing seat even in an appropriate child restraint under 7 years old.
Some car manufacturers will recommend a child under 12 years old not sit in the front seat. They risk sustaining serious injury from inflated airbags on impact. Check with your car manufacturer.
What Features to Consider With Your Choice of Car Restraint?
What child you are buying a seat for and how many children you have or intend to have will determine some of these choices.
· Both forward and rear facing, allowing for longer usage
· Easily reclines for newborns
· Six point safety harness for optimal security
· Height adjustment for a growing child with either
- Two to four slots for harness
- Central pull up head rest that also repositions shoulder straps
· Harness holders to keep straps open when seating child
· Narrow enough shell to fit three seats across the vehicle back seat if necessary. This can be easier with three seats the same (triplets) rather than three children of different ages. It will pay you to think ahead to save additional expense.
· Side wings for side impact protection
· Torso pad for side impact protection
· Anti-submarining features to prevent slipping under the strap on impact
· There is no official expiry date on car restraints, however most manufacturers will recommend 10 years maximum usage
· Never use a child car restraint that has been in an accident
· Avoid purchasing car seats from eBay or garage sales as the history of the car seat will not be guaranteed
· Extension straps, anchorage bars and angle brackets may be necessary for safe installation in some cars
Extras to Consider For Your Child’s Car Travelling Comfort:
The length and type of car travelling and age of your child will help you determine these choices.
· Sunshade canopy attached to the car restraint for sun protection
· Head snuggler for newborn
· Window shades. These attach to an adjacent window to protect your baby from:
- Heat and discomfort
- Eye damage from bright light
· Attachable cup holder
· Car organiser for books and toys at easy reach
· Pivoting armrests
· Padded seat insert for long distance travelling
· Rear facing mirror for driver and child eye contact and reassurance
· Mp3 compatible headrest speakers. Take the white noise for sleep or stories for entertainment
Extras and Features for Easy Care:
How much time you have and how clean you like to be will determine these choices.
· Washable fabric
· Removable washable seat cover
· Messy mat to protect vehicle car seat from food and spills
· Oops mat for added hygiene from child toilet accidents
Recap and Remember:
1. All child car restraints must carry an Australian Standards Approval sticker. This means car restraints brought from overseas are not acceptable to use
2. Never use a child car restraint in the front, side or rear facing seats
3. Failure to comply with appropriate restraint regulations in your state can result in a sizable fine, licence demerit points and serious injury or death to your children
4. Never use a car restraint that has been in an accident
5. Always check that your child is buckled up correctly before driving off, even if you have allowed them to buckle up themselves
6. A buckle heats up in a car that has been sitting in the sun for long periods. It can then burn your child’s skin when in constant contact
NB: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, readers are advised to seek individual professional assessment when choosing a car restraint for their child. Jan Murray may not be held liable for any action or claim resulting from the use of this article.
This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children. For more online resources visit http://www.settlepetal.com