Choosing the most appropriate child restraint for your circumstances isn’t just a matter of picking a style and colour you like. There are lots of variables involved.

Differences in the size of vehicles, their seating configurations and the type, size and number of restraint devices required are only a few of the issues you’ll need to contend with. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and each case must be treated individually.

FAQs that will help you choose a child restraint

The Child Restraint Guide (below) provides a starting point for selecting an appropriate restraint, based on the child’s age. However while this guide will suggest a suitable restraint for most applications, it won’t be appropriate for all children. Always refer to the child restraint manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure your child is not too large or too small for the restraint. It’s important to always try before you buy.
There is no easy answer to this question as child restraints generally aren’t made for a specific vehicle, nor are vehicles made to accept a particular restraint.  Some restraints are very bulky and can’t easily be fitted into some vehicles. And some restraints, or combinations of restraints, won’t fit into certain vehicles at all. Buying a restraint without first ensuring it will fit into the vehicle, and with any other restraints or passengers you need to carry, is risky if it can’t be returned or exchanged.
The answer to this question depends on the number, size and age of the children you are transporting. However be aware that in some cases the vehicle simply won’t be able to accommodate the number and types of restraints needed. And you may not be able to identify this without actually trial fitting the restraints to the vehicle.
Restraints can’t be used on sideways facing seats and generally not on rearward facing seats
Some vehicles will not have anchor points and some won’t have enough. Anchor points that necessitate running straps over head rests can make securing the restraint difficult and block rear vision, or restrict the use of the rear compartment in a hatch or wagon. Also many people mover type vehicles with three rows of seats only have anchor points on the second row, which will limit where you can actually fit a restraint. It may be possible to have additional anchor points fitted, however you need to seek professional advice about this before buying a child restraint.
A restraint that is difficult to use is unlikely to be satisfactory in the long term.  Check for an independent assessment of the ease of use of a range of commonly available restraints.

Does your child sleep whilst travelling and if so does the restraint recline to allow for this?

Most convertible restraints and convertible booster seats recline. However you need to check if there is sufficient space in the vehicle to allow this.

This is important if you need to move the restraint from one vehicle to another and when you need to remove it for cleaning.
While all restraints have to meet the requirements of AS/NZS 1754, this represents a minimum standard. In independent testing some restraints have been shown to score better in occupant protection than others. Check for an independent assessment of a range of restraints.

Child Restraint Guide

Here is a quick guide to choosing a Child Restraint based on the child’s age.
Child Age (approx)  Type of Child Restraint 
0 – 6 months Rearward facing baby capsule or infant restraint 
6 months – 1 year Rearward or forward facing infant restraint
6 months – 4 years Rearward facing restraint or forward facing child restraint with built-in harness
4 years – 7 years Booster seat with an adult seat belt or an accessory child safety harness
7 years – 16 years Booster seat with an adult seat belt or an accessory child safety harness or if they are big enough, an adult seat belt or child safety harness 

Note: The restraints referred to in Queensland legislation are based on the age of the child, not the child’s weight and height, and will be satisfactory for about 95 % of applications. However, the regulations recognise that some children will be too small or too large for a specific type of restraint. 

In these cases children should be placed in the most suitable restraint for their size and you should seek specialist advice about the most appropriate restraint to use. The child restraint’s manual will provide information about the height/weight limitations of the particular device.

More information & fitting service

To book or enquire about our child restraint fitting service, contact RACQ child restraints or email a question or buy online from the RACQ online shop.

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