Australian law provides the minimum requirements for children to safely travel in a motor vehicle. While these are easy for parents to understand and follow, they don’t necessarily meet the best practice for newborn safety in a car restraint.

In partnership with Baby on Board, our car restraint fitter, here is some guidance on how to keep your little one as safe as possible.

The car restraint must adhere to Australian safety standards

A restraint’s compliance with Australian safety standards will be clearly denoted by a label on the seat itself, within safety and usage instructions and on any packaging. Retailers are responsible for selling only those car restraints that comply with safety standards.

The car restraint must be rear-facing

Some capsules or restraints for newborns are only rearward-facing while others can be converted to forward-facing when your baby is the right height.

While the law states that you can forward-face a child from six months old (height dependent), our recommendation is to keep your child rearward-facing until they are at least 12 months old.  Ideally, we believe children should be rearward-facing for as long as possible. 

Infants don’t have the muscular strength that will protect their head and neck if they are forward-facing in a car seat that is involved in an accident. By keeping their car seat rearward-facing for as long as possible, you’ll provide better protection for your child.

The car restraint must be properly fitted

Baby on Board can ensure that your baby’s car restraint is properly fitted – not only for its type but also for the make of car. The Baby on Board installers will also be able to show you how to properly install your child restraint and educate you on its correct use.

Contact your local Baby Bunting store to book in your car restraint fitting or check with Baby on Board.

Capsule vs convertible

A capsule can be lifted out of a car like a baby basket, while some are compatible with prams and bassinets. Babies outgrow capsules at around six months of age.  Convertibles car seats can be used for a newborn and adjusted to accommodate the growth of a baby for up to four years.

Provided that both comply with Australian safety standards and are properly fitted and used correctly (including adjusting when age and size appropriate), there are no known differences in safety outcomes.

Can I buy a second-hand car restraint?

The same laws apply to using second-hand car restraints as it does to using new ones. But because it can be difficult to know the history of a second-hand car restraint – and many don’t come with labels denoting their safety compliance or instructions for safe and proper use – it is a safer choice to buy car restraints new.