You are here

A child restraint guide to help keep your child safe on the road

A child restraint guide to help keep your child safe on the road

If you have a child, then you’d most likely know that by law you have to secure them in a child seat restraint when travelling in the car.

This is because a child is less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash if they’re correctly secured in an approved child seat in comparison to a child who isn’t.

But knowing the ins and outs of the rules surrounding child restraints can sometimes be complicated. That’s why NRMA Insurance are here to help when it comes to making sense of what’s required when choosing and fitting a child car seat.

Meeting Australian Standards

All child seats sold and used in Australia must comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754 Child Restraint System, and display an Australian Standard sticker.. It’s illegal to use an overseas model or a restraint that doesn’t meet these requirements.

Methods for fitting an Australian child car seat

There are two methods for installing an Australian child car restraints into a vehicle – the traditional child seats and ISOFIX method. The difference between the two are the fitting systems.

The traditional child restraint system uses the car seatbelt, together with an Australian mandatory requirement of a top tether attachment, to fit the seat to the car.

However, ISOFIX child seats are an alternative way to attach a child restraint without using a seatbelt. ISOFIX uses a clipping system that attach to anchorage bars or points manufactured into cars, and also requires the top tether attachment. If your car is ISOFIX compatible, it will be clearly visible by the ISOFIX logo or labelling where the location of the ISOFIX attachment points are on the car seat.

ISOFIX compatible child seats that comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754 can also be used in seating positions not fitted with IFOFIX attachments. The seat is installed by using the traditional method of the car’s seatbelt and top tether strap without using the ISOFIX attachments.

Newer ISOFIX seats are generally easier to install than the traditional seatbelt system, however the traditional seatbelt method is just as safe when installed correctly.

Australian car seat requirements for different ages and sizes

With hundreds of forward-facing, rear-facing and booster seats on the market, it can be difficult to know which is suited for your child. 

The general rule of thumb is all children must be securely fastened in the appropriate child seat for their age and size. But it’s also important to remember that if your child is too small for the child restraint specified for their age, they should be kept in their current child restraint until it is safe for them to move to the next level. And if your child is too large for the child restraint specified for their age, they may move to the next level.

Below are the legal guidelines for the type of suitable child seats for each age group.

Up to 6 months

6 months to 4 years

4+ years

145cm or taller

Approved rear-facing child car seat

Approved rear or forward-facing child car seat

Approved forward facing child seat or booster seat

Suggested minimum height to use an adult lap-sash seat belt

National child restraint laws

  • Children up to the age of six months must be secured in an approved rearward facing restraint.
  • Children aged from six months old but under four years old must be secured in either a rear or forward-facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness.
  • Children under four years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
  • Children aged from four years old but under seven years old must be secured in a forward-facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat.
  • Children aged from four years old but under seven years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in an approved child restraint or booster seat.
  • Children aged from seven years old but under 16 years old who are too small to be restrained by a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened are strongly recommended to use an approved booster seat.
  • Children in booster seats must be restrained by a suitable lap and sash type approved seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, or by a suitable approved child safety harness that is properly adjusted and fastened.

When to move your child to the next type of child restraint

No child is the same. Just because two children are the same age it doesn’t mean they’ll be the same size and fit into the same type of child restraint. Keeping this in mind, you should only move your child to the next level of restraint when they have outgrown their current child car seat.

To help you recognise when your child should be moved to the next restraint, we’ve listed guidelines below.

Your child should be moved from a rearward-facing child car seat to a forward-facing child car seat when:

  • They’re between six to 12 months old and is able to  hold their head up; or
  • Their shoulders have passed the upper marks of the shoulder marks printed or sewn on the cover.

Your child should be moved from a forward-facing child car seat to a booster seat when:

  • Their shoulders no longer fit comfortably within the child car seat; or
  • Their eye-level is higher than the back of the seat; or
  • The top insertion slots for the shoulder straps are below the level of their shoulders; or
  • Their shoulders have passed the upper marks of the shoulder marks printed or sewn on the cover.

Your child should be moved from a booster seat to a seatbelt when:

  • Their shoulders no longer fit comfortably within the booster seat; or
  • Their eye level is higher than the back of the booster seat; or
  • If your car seat has shoulder marks, their shoulders have passed the upper marks of the shoulder marks printed or sewn on the cover.

Installing your child or baby seat

It’s extremely important that your child or baby seat installation is done correctly. To achieve a seamless installation, follow the manufacturers instructions or get a professional to carry out the installation for you. This way it’s guaranteed that your child car seat is secure and safe, helping to keep your child safe on the road.



You can also identify the best child seat by visiting the Child Car Seats website. Child Car Seats is an initiative of the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP), a consortium of government agencies and motorist organisations who share a common interest in improving safety for children travelling in vehicles.

View the website here: https://www.childcarseats.com.au/

You might also like...