Choosing the right car restraint

Published by Baby Bunting on Sunday, January 27, 2019

Australian law is quite clear about the type of car restraint required to safely drive with your newborn. Fortunately, the law and guidelines are easy to follow and they ensure the best current practice for newborn safety in a car restraint.

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 rear-facing while others can be converted to forward-facing when your baby is the right age. In either case, the seat must be rear-facing up until your baby is six months old.

The car restraint must be properly fitted

An accredited car restraint fitter will ensure that your baby’s car restraint is properly fitted – not only for its type but for the make of car. They will also be able to show you how to install, adjust and remove the restraint. Some retailers offer an accredited car fitting service and, by purchasing from the retailer in person, you will be able to test the restraint in your car.

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Capsule vs convertible

A capsule can be lifted out of a car like a baby basket, and some are compatible with prams and bassinets. But babies outgrow capsules at around six months of age, whereas convertibles can be adjusted to accommodate the growth of a baby for up to four years.

Provided that both comply to 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 often a safer choice to buy car restraints new.

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