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  • Writer's pictureChris Maher

Child Seat Installation - Selecting the Ideal Restraint

Updated: May 26


Decoding the Importance of Proper Child Restraints

Ensuring the well-being of our little ones while traveling is a paramount concern for every parent or caregiver. With a multitude of options available, selecting the appropriate child restraint can be a daunting task. However, making an informed decision is crucial, as it can mean the difference between life and death in the event of an unfortunate accident. Here at BabySafe&Clean, we offer professional car seat installation services to ensure the safety of your kids.

Extensive research has unveiled that correctly utilizing a size-appropriate child restraint significantly reduces the risk of fatal and severe injuries to children. In fact, studies have demonstrated that rear-facing child restraints offer an astonishing 88-96% reduction in the likelihood of fatalities and serious harm. These staggering statistics underscore the pivotal role that proper child restraints play in safeguarding our precious cargo.

Like a boss
It's super cool to have your children properly restrained in the car

Understanding the Evolutionary Journey of Child Restraint Guidelines

Over the years, guidelines surrounding child restraint usage have undergone a transformative evolution. Initially, recommendations were based solely on a child's age, serving as a practical benchmark. However, recent advancements have led to the development of shoulder height markers, which more accurately reflect the suitability of a child's size for a specific restraint type.

These markers, now integrated into the mandatory Australian Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754:2010), represent a significant stride forward in ensuring optimal protection. By considering a child's physical dimensions rather than relying solely on age, these guidelines aim to provide a tailored approach, maximising the safety and efficacy of the chosen restraint.

...are your guide when to move your child to the next category of restraint
Height markers....

Rearward Facing Child Restraints: Maximizing Protection for the Youngest Passengers

For infants and toddlers, rearward-facing child restraints (RFCRs) offer unparalleled security. Field studies have consistently demonstrated that properly secured RFCRs significantly reduce the risk of fatal and severe injuries. This remarkable level of protection stems from the restraint's ability to evenly distribute crash forces across the child's body, minimizing the impact on delicate areas.

Many current Australian RFCRs, including Type A2 infant restraints and A2/B convertible models, are designed to accommodate children up to at least 12 months of age, and even longer for smaller infants. Moreover, the introduction of Type A4 restraints has further extended the duration for which children can remain rear-facing, catering to those up to approximately 2.5 years old.

Some restraints allow children to be rear facing up to around 30 months
We recommend keeping your child rear facing as long as possible

Forward Facing Child Restraints: Offering Comprehensive Protection Beyond Infancy

As children outgrow their rearward-facing restraints, forward-facing child restraints (FFCRs) become the next line of defense. Numerous studies, both in Australia and internationally, have consistently highlighted the superior protection offered by FFCRs, particularly those equipped with top tether straps, as mandated in Australia.

These restraints excel in minimizing contact between the child and other objects during a collision, while also mitigating head accelerations and neck forces associated with head and spinal injuries. Field data from various countries, complemented by findings from within Australia, further reinforce the laboratory evidence, underscoring the efficacy of FFCRs in safeguarding children up to the age of 6, and even older.

If you wish to speak to one of our professional car seat installer around what you would require, please book a time with us!

Prematurely forward facing children in a vehicle exposes them to unnecessary risk
Children should only be forward facing when they reach the height markers

Booster Seats: Bridging the Gap to Adult Seat Belt Fit

As children outgrow their forward-facing child restraints, booster seats become the next logical step in their journey towards achieving a proper adult seat belt fit. Parents and caregivers are strongly encouraged to explore all available booster seat options before transitioning a child to an adult seat belt alone.

The rationale behind this recommendation lies in the varying geometries of vehicle seats and seat belts, which can significantly impact the achievability of a good seat belt fit. Research has revealed that most children generally do not attain an optimal adult seat belt fit until approximately 10-12 years of age, highlighting the importance of utilizing booster seats until that milestone is reached.

Adult Seat Belts: The Final Frontier for Older Children

For children who have outgrown booster seats, adult seat belts become the most appropriate form of restraint. This transition typically occurs for most children aged 12 years and older, when they can achieve a proper seat belt fit.

However, it is crucial to note that lap-only seat belts are not recommended for children of any age, unless no seating position with a lap-sash seat belt is available. Extensive evidence has demonstrated that lap-only seat belts provide inferior protection compared to lap-sash seat belts, and are associated with an increased risk of abdominal, lumbar spine, and head injuries.

Seating Position: A Crucial Consideration for Optimal Safety

While the type of restraint is undoubtedly a critical factor, the seating position of a child within the vehicle also plays a pivotal role in ensuring their safety. Numerous well-designed studies, including two matched cohort studies involving large, population-representative samples, have provided strong evidence that children up to and including the age of 12 are better protected in the event of a crash when seated in the rear seat, rather than the front seat.

When transporting multiple children, practical considerations such as the fit of the restraints, accessibility to seat belt buckles, and the availability of top tether anchorage positions must be taken into account. In Australian vehicles with more than one row of seats, these anchorage points are typically located in the rear seat, further reinforcing the recommendation for rear seating of children.

Airbags and Active Safety Devices: Navigating the Intricacies

The advent of airbags and other active safety devices has introduced additional complexities when selecting the appropriate seating position for children. Front seat airbags, designed primarily for adult occupants, have been known to pose risks to children seated in the front passenger position, particularly those in rearward-facing child restraints.

To mitigate these risks, rearward-facing child restraints should not be installed in front seating positions where an active front passenger airbag is present. For forward-facing child restraints and booster seats, while the risks are lower, it is still advisable to position them in the rear seat whenever possible.

Side airbags, including curtain airbags and torso airbags, have not been shown to pose significant additional risks to properly restrained child occupants. However, to maximize the potential benefits of these safety features, children should be encouraged to maintain an upright posture and avoid resting their heads or bodies in the deployment path of these airbags.

BabySafe&Clean offers mobile child car seat installations in Sydney.

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