All children up to the age of eight years old should be seated in a suitable infant or child car restraint when travelling in a car.

This includes your journey home from hospital with your baby, so don’t leave it too late to get one fitted correctly!

The child seat restraint laws were introduced in all Australian states and territories to reduce the effects of serious injury or death in an accident and to reduce the number of children being prematurely moved to the next level of child restraint (or to no child restraint at all).

Australian research reveals children that are incorrectly restrained into a car seat are up to seven times more likely to be seriously injured if in a car accident.

Car seats that are fitted incorrectly may lead to a fine of $596 and 6 Demerit points per child restraint that is fitted incorrectly.

What Type of Car Seat Should my Baby/Child be in?

Each State and Territory have laws in place for car seat restraints for babies and children. As a general rule, your child must be in suitable car seat or capsule, up until the age of seven. 

Age Range:

  • Children aged under six months must wear an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, rear-facing child restraint.
  • Children aged between six months and under four years must wear an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, rear facing child restraint OR a forward facing child restraint with an in-built harness.
  • Children aged between four years and under eight years must wear an approved, properly fastened and adjusted, forward facing child restraint with an in-built harness OR an approved booster seat which is properly positioned and fastened.

Check with the road authority in your state or territory for more information.

 There are so many choices, what is important?

 The most important things you need to know when you are purchasing a car seat is:

  • The age and height of the child (Do your research to find out what is going to suit, and grow with your child to last the longest)
  • Whether the car seat will fit in your car (If possible, always test the car seat in your car, most baby shops will allow this)

There are several types of car seats you can choose from: 

  • Infant Carriers/Capsules (Birth – 12 Months Approximately)
  • Convertible Car Seats (Birth to 4-8 Years Approximately)
  • Harnessed Booster Seats (6 Months to 4-8 Years Approximately)
  • Non-Harnessed Booster Seats (4-8 Years Approximately)
  • ISOFIX Compatible Car Seats

Infant Carriers/Capsules:

Infant carriers are a convenient option when your baby is just born. They are suitable from birth to at least six months, or even up to twelve months depending on the height of your child. They are specifically designed to cocoon your child in the capsule and secure them safely with a five point, easy to adjust harness with high side walls providing maximum protection.

Infant carriers come with a carry handle and snap in and out of the base, which is installed in your car. They may also come with a canopy to protect your baby from the sun. Perfectly designed for easy transportation.    

Many capsules also have a travel system option which allows you to transport your baby from the car to your pram, without disturbing your baby.

Convertible Car Seats:

Convertible car seats are designed to grow with your baby. They can be used in the rear facing mode from birth to approximately twelve months or as height markers indicate, and then converted to forward facing mode when your child is approximately twelve months to four years old.

Many convertible child car seats also come with an added infant safety cushion, designed specifically to provide increased support and protection for your newborn. This can be removed once your child outgrows it.

 Booster Seats:

Booster seats are forward-facing, but they are used with an adult seatbelt, and top tether strap. It's designed for children aged from four to around eight years old or as height markers indicate. Many car seat versions have high backs and sides to provide side-impact protection and support for sleeping children.

When it comes to converting your child from a convertible car seat to a booster seat a child safety harness is difficult to fit correctly. Research recommends using a child safety harness only in situations where it is not possible to replace your lap only seatbelt with a lap sash seatbelt.  It is also recommended to use a booster seat with an anti-submarining feature.

If you decided to use the child safety harness, ensure that the shoulder straps are not too tight and that the lap part of the seatbelt is low across the thighs, otherwise it may ride up into your child’s stomach area.  Incorrect use of a child safety harness may cause severe injury.

What's ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is an established car seat installation system that's been around in Europe and North America for well over a decade. It involves clipping the car seat into anchorage points manufactured into cars, providing it's used in conjunction with Australia's top tether restraints. ISOFIX's incorporation into the 2013 Australian standard provides greater choice for parents and is usually easier to install than the older system, but both methods are safe when installed correctly.

Cars are readily available in Australia with provisions for ISOFIX, and the current mandatory child car restraint standard was finally approved in 2014 to include ISOFIX-compatible seats.

ISOFIX models in Australia vary from overseas models because of requirements such as the top tether strap. Despite the temptation to buy or import a cheaper ISOFIX car restraint from overseas, it's illegal to use one as it won't meet AS/ANZ 1754.

Tips to ensure car seat safety:

  • Get your car seat professionally fitted
  • Follow the car seat instructions
  • Regularly check the harness to ensure the straps are firm and flat across your child’s body
  • Regularly check the height makers on the seat
  • You should get rid of child car seats that are more than 10 years old, have damaged or frayed straps or cracks in the body of the seat. Make sure that they are not able to be used by anybody else.
  • Never use a car seat that has been purchased out of Australia.
  • If you are unsure if your car seat is fitted properly, get it checked and installed by a professional

Most Common Mistakes When Placing your child in a car seat:

  •  Twisted harness
  • Loose harness straps
  • Not using the car anchor point
  • Not adjusting the straps correctly

Child safety is Baby & Toddler Town’s number one priority and our stores have car seat fitters available. Please contact us on 1300 751 705 for further enquires or bookings.