If you are one of the many Australians getting ready to welcome a new arrival into your family, understanding the basics of baby seat safety is a must.
While starting a family is not a decision to be taken lightly, having a baby can be one of the most rewarding experiences that anyone can have. For many people, becoming a parent means that life isn’t about you anymore, as caring for this tiny human becomes priority number one.
The responsibility of caring for a child can mean anything and everything from feeding them, bathing them, clothing them, and ensuring that their environment is as safe as possible, at all times. For new Mums and Dads that are finally ready to leave their house with the newest addition, getting familiar with baby seat safety in cars is a non-negotiable consideration to be made.
In the event of a car crash at just 50 kilometres per hour, an unrestrained passenger is thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight. While adults have a legal requirement to use a seatbelt, what if that unrestrained passenger was a small child?
As seatbelts are often fitted for adults, a baby seat or a child seat in a car is designed to protect the smaller passengers in a similar fashion. Generally, there are three different types of child safety restraints available in Australia.
While one option is to start your baby in a capsule and progress to a forward-facing seat then a booster seat, some may prefer to use a convertible car seat, which can change modes to allow for longer periods of use and save on forking out extra money on all the upgrades.
The Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) is a program run by a combination of motorist organisations and Australian government agencies.
Because all child and baby seats sold in Australia are required to meet mandatory safety standards, they independently crash test car seats above and beyond these standards. There are a number of models listed on the Child Car Seats website which are considered safe and is a great way to find and compare child car seats. This will also help you choose the best car seat for your child.
Although the legal requirements can vary slightly depending on your state or territory, the laws for using baby seats and children’s seats in Australian vehicles are generally based on age:
The shoulder height markers on car seats indicate when a child is big enough to start using a particular car seat when you can convert the seat to the next use, and when your child is too big for the seat.
By law, children aged seven years and older can use adult seatbelts – but only if they’re physically big enough. In fact, if a police officer happens to pull you over and thinks that a child aged over seven years isn’t wearing an adult seatbelt correctly, the officer can issue an infringement notice.
Despite what the law says, it’s important to know that most seven-year-olds are often considered to be too small for an adult seatbelt. Many children aren’t big enough to safely wear an adult seatbelt until they’re 10 to 12 years of age, as adult seatbelts are designed for people who are at least 145cm tall.
For parents looking for advice on moving their child into a different car seat, it’s always a good idea to ask your child and family health nurse or another professional.
A recent survey showed that more than 70% of children’s car seats in Australia are not installed correctly. And the reality is that failing to do so can increase the risk of injury significantly.
If you’re new to the world of parenting and aren’t feeling all that confident with mastering how to install a baby seat, it’s worth consulting with the professionals. Authorised fitters usually cost anywhere between $30 to $75 for a new baby or child seat installation in a car, with some local councils even offering free safety checks.
Baby capsules and children’s car seats have almost opposite installation processes, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you’re not confident in this area. However, if you’re an old hand at the baby seat safety game or are looking for tips when you’re getting familiar with the installation process, it’s worth noting the following:
While the open road offers a whole new type of family-friendly adventure, ensuring the safety of your precious cargo on board before you get behind the wheel is a must.