Baby transport buying guide

Strollers, carriers, car and bicycle seats: we tell you what to look for.
Learn more
  • Updated:3 Oct 2009

06.Child car restraints

Every year, many children are injured or killed in car accidents. Many of these could be prevented by the use of a correctly fitted child restraint of the right type for the child’s size.

All child car restraints sold in Australia meet the requirements of the current Australian Standard. but some are better than others, offering additional safety.

What type for your child?

Always use the right type of restraint for your child’s size:

  • Rear-facing baby restraints (baby capsules) for children up to 9 kg or 70 cm (about six months). You use this type until your baby can sit and hold their head upright unsupported.
  • Forward-facing child seats for children 8 kg to 18 kg (six months to about five years). Use this type until your child outgrows it—usually until their shoulders are too wide.
  • Raised booster seats are for children who’ve outgrown their child seat but cannot yet properly use an adult seatbelt. If you’re using one with a lap-only seatbelt, you also need a harness that provides shoulder support.
  • Convertible child restraints that can be used as both a baby restraint and a child seat.

What to buy

All of the following child car restraints achieved the highest rating of **** “Exceptional crash protection and well above the AS/NZ Standard requirements” in the February 2009 test by the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, NRMA and RACV. See below for their ease of use rating.

Rearward-facing restraints - babies up to 9 or 12kgs

Dedicated rearward facing restraints:
  • Babylove Snap’n Go Series BL620 Baby Safety Carrier $269.95 (A)
    Ease of use **
  • Safe-N-Sound Baby Safety Capsule Series 230/A/95 $259.00
    Ease of use ***
Convertible forward facing restraints:
  • Secure Turn-A-Tot Model CS35 $499.00
    Ease of use **
  • Safe-N-Sound Compaq Deluxe Series 25/D/2004 $399.00
    Ease of use ***
  • IGC GoSafe Cleo $219.00
    Ease of use ***

Booster seats - older children 14 to 26kgs

  • Infa Vario Kid Model CS 54 $159.00
    Ease of use **

(A) A new model available from Oct 2009.

For more information and all the tested models see the brochure on the RTA website

How to buy a child car restraint:

Only buy a model that carries the Standards Australia mark.

  • Make sure you get the installation manual.
  • Try different models in your car before you buy, as they can be differently contoured and may not fit well.
  • While buying a secondhand restraint can save you money, make sure you don’t compromise on safety:
  • Don’t use a restraint that’s been in a car crash. It’s best only to buy a secondhand restraint from someone you trust — for example, from a family member or friend so you know the restraint’s history.
  • Don’t buy a restraint with obvious signs of wear on the harness and straps, or if the plastic shell or buckles are discoloured, bent, cracked or broken.
  • Don’t use a restraint that’s more than 10 years old. Check with the manufacturer if you aren’t sure of the age of a particular model.
  • Check that the buckles and adjusters work well. If in doubt, have an authorised fitting station check the restraint for you.
  • You may also be able to hire a restraint from community groups, your local council, hospitals or private companies.

How to install and use a child car restraint correctly

Installing and using the restraint properly is as important as buying a safe model for getting maximum protection in an accident.

  • Carefully read and follow the instructions, especially the sections on common mistakes and useful travelling safety tips.
  • The safest position is in the centre rear position of your car (except for a booster seat if your car only has a lap belt in the centre).
  • If your car has a passenger airbag, never use a rear-facing baby restraint in the front passenger seat. If you have to use a forward-facing restraint in the passenger seat, move the seat back as far as possible and discourage the child from leaning forward.
  • The restraint’s top tether strap and the car’s seatbelt should be as tight as possible. Press the restraint into the car seat with your body weight when adjusting the seatbelt.
  • When using a rear-facing infant restraint, the shoulder straps should be at shoulder height or just above. The shoulder straps in forward-facing restraints can be up to 25 mm below the child's shoulders.
  • Authorised fitting stations can help you install a restraint properly — visiting one may be a good idea if you’re using a restraint for the first time.

More information

For more information on child restraints, or to find your nearest fitting station, contact your state:


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.