How long should your child stay rear-facing? When should they be moved into a booster? At what age should your child be moved to an adult seat belt? WAIT… Did you know… Height is the most important factor in choosing the right car seat. Did you also know… cars are designed for average sized adults NOT children so your child must be a minimum of 145cm before they can safely move out of a booster and into an adult back seat in a vehicle. Our car seat timeline breaks down all the information you need to ensure your little one is as safe as possible at every age.
Rear for (at least) a Year!
Australian national child restraint laws state that children up to the age of six months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint, with an inbuilt harness. It is important not to graduate your child from a convertible car seat to a booster seat too early though. Britax, the leaders in child car seat safety, encourage parents to have their child rear facing for as long as possible, recommending to at least ‘Rear for a Year’. A variety of Britax Safe-n-Sound convertible car seats can be installed rear-facing until approximately 2-3 years of age (depending on the height of the child).
Likewise, Britax believe in ‘Harnessed for Longer’, recommending children should be fully harnessed approximately until 8 years of age. Britax Safe-n-Sound Maxi Guard PRO™ features a Hassle Free Harness™ which automatically repositions the shoulder strap height as your child grows. There is no need to rethread the harness, reducing the risk of incorrect installation and harness fitment, and making your life a whole lot easier!
Graduating to the Booster Seat
When your child has outgrown the height limit (when they have grown past the top shoulder height marker) of their current car seat, it is time to move them into a booster. Just like babies, older children are at risk of serious injury in the event of a vehicle accident, which is why a safety tested booster seat is essential for ensuring proper protection of your child when driving. Britax Safe-n-Sound’s Kid Guard PRO™ is the only booster seat of its kind providing continued safety from approximately 4 years to 10 years of age, meaning your little one stays safer for longer. All children 145cm and under should be in a child car seat.
The Older the Better When it Comes to Transitioning to an Adult Seat Belt:
Graduating from a booster seat to an adult seat belt is not a transition that should be rushed! In fact, often children are moved into an adult seat belt way too early! Britax recommend that you only consider moving your child out of their booster seat after they have exceeded the height recommendations and can no longer sit comfortably in the restraint. Their height is the key indicator and, you should also consider how they sit in the seat. In assessing how your child sits in an adult seat, Britax suggest you consider the following:
If your child’s legs are shorter than the depth of the seat and do not hang comfortably over the seat edge, your child is likely to move forward or slump in their seat which will change the position of the lap belt and increase the risk of serious injury.
If the seat belt crosses your child’s face or neck rather than their chest, your child is likely to place the seat belt behind their back to remove this discomfort greatly increasing the risk of injury.
If the lap belt rides up over your child’s abdomen when sitting correctly, your child is at increased risk of serious injury (the lap belt should always be positioned over the hips and thighs).
If your child wriggles or slumps in their seat, the lateral support provided by a booster seat reduces the risk head, neck and abdominal injury.