How to Choose Car Seats in Australia
Car seats in Australia vary in their design depending on the age of the baby or child. Many parents find it quite confusing trying to figure out which of these different designs are suitable for their baby or child. This article has been written to try and make choosing the right car seat for your baby or child as simple as possible. So let’s start!
Requirements under the current Car Seat Australia Standards (AS/NZS 1754 2010) outline how all car seats in Australia are designed and manufactured. Different child heights require different standards to be met. Generally speaking, these standards outline four major types of car seat positions that should be used depending on the length/height of the child. Approximate ages are applied to these to make parent selection easier, however the height of the child must still be used when a car seat selected by age is being considered. Markers on the car seat itself make this a very easy task.
The first position is aimed at newborn babies and involves a capsule or infant carrier anchored to the car with its own harness positioned in a rear facing position. The second is a car seat anchored to the car and fitted in the rear facing position, using an internal harness. The third is a car seat anchored to the car in the forward position with its own internal harness. The fourth is a car seat that is anchored to the car in a forward facing position with the use of the vehicles sash belt to harness the child.
Now, the tricky part to all this, is that there is not one car seat for each position in the car. There are many combinations available now, which is why everything has become very confusing for the first time car seat buyer in Australia. The following box summarises this.
A capsule or infant carrier is only used in one position, which is anchored to the car in a rear facing manner. A convertible car seat however, is able to be in a combination of positions. When combining the rear facing position with internal harness and the forward facing position with internal harness, the seat then becomes suitable for a much greater age range. This is from newborn up to approximately four years of age. The recently released Infa-Secure Luxi range of car seats however have taken the convertible car seat to another level, combining the above positions with a forward facing seat using the vehicles own seat belt (booster seat) as well. This now can cater for a child from birth up to approximately eight years old. This is rapidly becoming one of the most popular car seats in Australia.
The convertible booster seat combines a forward facing seat with internal harness and a forward facing seat using the vehicles own seat belt. As it is not designed to be rear facing, it is not able to be used from newborn. Convertible booster seats are a popular car seat for those who have progressed after out-growing a capsule and cater from six months up to approximately eight years old. Booster seats themselves are only forward facing seats using the vehicles own seat belt. They are suitable for approximately four years old up to approximately eight years old. Absolute timing of use relies of course on the height of the child.
A note of advice for bigger children; A large child that is less than four years old may still fit into a booster seat using the cars own seat belt. This is legal however it may be more appropriate to use a large convertible booster seat with internal harness if the child is not able to understand that they need to keep their seat belt on.