Child restraint guidelines
Ten essential steps
1. The use of any restraint is preferable to not using a
restraint. It is the law that each person in a motor vehicle
has their own restraint.
a. Always use a top tether strap for all rearward facing child restraints, forward facing child restraints and booster seats that have them.
b. Always thread the seatbelt through the correct path (following colour coding available for newer restraints).
c. Ensure there is no slack or looseness in any part of the system. Check the harness straps around the child, the top tether, the seatbelt anchoring the restraint to the vehicle, and the seatbelt used by a child in a booster seat.
d. Check that the seatbelt is buckled before each trip.
2. Infants are safest if they remain in their rear facing
restraint as long as they still fit in their rear facing
restraint. While the law allows children over 6 months to use
either a rear facing restraint or a forward facing restraint, the
rear facing restraint offers better protection as long as the
child fits in it.
3. Once a child is too tall for their rear facing child restraint,
they should use a forward-facing child restraint (with
built-in 6 point harness) until they are too tall for it.
While the law allows children 4 years and older to use
either a forward-facing child restraint or a booster seat, the
forward-facing child restraint offers better protection as long
as the child fits in it.
4. Once a child is too tall for a forward facing child
restraint, they should use a booster seat with a lap-sash
seatbelt until they are tall enough to fit properly into an
adult seatbelt. While the law allows children 7 years and
older to use either a booster seat or a seatbelt by itself, a
booster seat offers better protection as long as the child fits
in it.
5. For a child in a booster seat or an adult seatbelt, use a
seating position with a lap-sash (lap and shoulder) belt
in preference to one with a lap-only belt.
All child restraints and booster seats must be installed correctly and the child strapped in correctly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions:
Children 12 years of age and under are safest in the rear seat.
Seatbelts should never be used with the sash belt under the child’s arm or behind the child’s back, whether they are being used alone or with a booster seat.
Child restraint guidelines
Keeping children as safe as possible while
travelling in motor vehicles
When planning any journey with children, use a motor vehicle which allows each child to be in the appropriate restraint for their size.
10. Regularly check that child restraints are correctly installed and that the restraint is adjusted properly for the child’s size according to the restraint users’ manual. Using a restraint fitting service will help ensure that everything is used correctly and that your child is as safe as possible.
This is a summary of the National Guidelines
for Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in
Motor Vehicles, which have been approved by
the National Health & Medical Research Council.
More detailed information on all aspects of child
restraint use is available from: (insert website
A guide for parents and carers
Children of different sizes and ages need different types of restraints
Rearward Facing Child Restraint1:
For children from birth, with a builtin 5 or 6 point harness, where the
child faces the rear of the car. Type
A in the Australian Standard.
Convertible Restraint: A child restraint that combines 2 or
more restraint types.
Can the child sit with their back
against the vehicle sear back?
Forward Facing Child Restraint2: For
children who have outgrown their rear
facing restraint up until at least 4 years
of age, with a built-in 6 point harness
where the child faces the front of the
car. Type B in the Australian Standard.
Rearward/forward facing convertible: Can be converted
from a rearward facing to a forward facing child restraint.
Booster Seat3: For children who
have outgrown4 their forward-facing
restraint, up to at least 8-10 years of
age, to position the lap and sash belts
safely. Use of an add-on harness is
not recommended. Type E, F in the
Australian Standard.
Lap sash seatbelt: A seatbelt that has
one part that goes across the lap and
another that goes over the shoulder.
Use when a child is big enough to meet
all parts of the ‘5 step test‘. Only use a
lap only belt when there is no lap sash
belt available.
Step Teststeps
Do the child‘s knees bend in front
of the edge of the seat?
Does the sash belt sit across the
middle of the shoulder?
Forward facing/booster convertible: Can be converted from
a forward facing child restraint to a booster.
Is the lap belt sitting low across
the hips touching the thighs?
1. Rearward facing restraints come in three types: Type A1 for children up to 70cm tall (approx 6-9 months), Type A2 for
children up to 80cm tall (approx 12 months), and a new category Type A4, for children up to 2-3 years of age.
2. Forward facing restraints, Type B, fit most children up to at least 4 years of age. A new forward-facing restraint, Type
G, may soon become available which can be used up to approximately 8 years of age.
3. Booster cushions are boosters without the back and side wings that protect the child’s head. They are being phased
out, except for those built into cars.
4. Newer restraints have shoulder height markers to indicate size limits.
Can the child stay seated like this
for the whole trip?
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