Choosing the right child restraint

Top 10 tips on choosing the right child restraint so everyone makes it home safe.

It’s perhaps the most nerve-wracking trip you’ll ever take on four wheels – the drive home from hospital with your new baby. If safety wasn’t paramount before, it will be now that you have precious cargo on board. RACQ Education Officer Karina Halliday provides the top 10 tips on choosing the right child restraint so everyone makes it home safe.

1. Your car

Check that your vehicle is suitable for installing child restraints, always refer to your vehicle’s manual. Does it have anchor points and how many? Does it have Isofix? Will it accommodate your future family plans?

2. The law

All child restraints must comply with the Australian Standards (AS/NZS 1754). Restraints imported from overseas do not comply and cannot be used in Australia. Check that it carries the Australian Standard sticker.

Baby in child restraint looking up at mum

3. Research

Research as much as you can but ensure you look at credible Australian resources. A good place to start is childcarseats.com.au.

4. Types of restraints

There are many different categories of restraints on the market – dedicated rear-facing, forward-facing only, a combination of the two and booster seats.

Father adjusting child restraint next to car

5. Ease of use

Consider the daily use of your child restraint – will it need to be taken out often and installed in another vehicle? This may determine the features you should look for.

6. Specific features

Consider any specific features of the child restraint, including Adjustable Head Rest (AHR), Isofix, side impact cushioning and extended rear-facing capability. Decide what is important for your child’s safety.

Mother opening car door with baby in her arms

7. Second hand or new?

Unless you know the full history and trust the previous owner, purchasing a new restraint ensures it has not been damaged in any accidents. Due to advances in safety and general wear and tear, we would also recommend that a child restraint has a 10-year life span from the date of manufacture.

8. No return policy

Once you have taken a restraint out of its packaging, it may not be able to be returned. Use any “try before you buy” schemes or ask about the returns policy, especially if you are purchasing online.

Baby in child restraint

9. Installation

Once you have purchased your restraint it is worth thinking about having it installed by a certified fitter. If you choose not to, always refer to the vehicle and child restraint instruction manuals for how to do this correctly.

10. Accessories

Aftermarket accessories are not recommended unless specifically advised or provided by the manufacturer.

Remember to always refer to the manufacturer’s manual and make sure you regularly clean, maintain and adjust your child restraint so it can do the job it is designed to do – keep your child safe.

For more information about the RACQ Kids & Cars program, please call 1300 853 658 or email roadsafetyeducation@racq.com.au.