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  • Writer's pictureChris Maher

What are the Key Factors to Capsule Installation?

Being a parent can be an amazing journey full of happiness, excitement, but also one of slight trepidation, if you’re a parent or caregiver that’s not well practiced in fitting capsules and child restraints.  Fitting the capsules and child restraints correctly is no different from ensuring an older child is wearing a helmet when they ride a bicycle, supervising a child whilst they are swimming, or even securing your own seat belt when you get in to a vehicle.  Whilst it’s difficult to condense the knowledge and experience of thousands of child restraint fittings in to a single article, it’s our hope that in this guide, we will be able to help get you familiar with some of the basics.



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1. Safety Rules in Australia

Australia has very strict rules about child restraints and child restraint accessories, and these rules are tin place for good reason. As a responsible parent or caregiver, you want  to make sure that the child restraint or capsule that you choose meets Australian Standards (AS/NZS 1754). And we’re pleased to advise that by law, any child restraints or capsules sold in Australia must adhere to the standard. Where things can get a little tricky is if importing child restraints or capsules from overseas (almost certainly the restraint will not be compliant with Australian Standards) and also if you’ve bought or been given a restraint or capsule second-hand. In circumstances like these, we always recommend consulting a specialist such as ourselves, or the product manufacturer.


2. How to Pick the Best Baby Capsule

Choosing the right baby capsule is the first thing you should do to make sure your child is safe and happy in the car. When you make this choice, think about your child's age and height. The majority of capsules sold in the Australian market place cater for children up to around six months old, however more and more now can cater children up to the age of around 12 months.


3. Installation Services Done Right

When it comes to fitting the capsule or child restraint it’s important that you follow all manufacturer guidelines as well as adhere to the relevant laws in your state or jurisdiction.  Whilst there’s no requirement the capsule or restraint be fitted by an accredited fitter, it is highly recommended. Some retail outlets offer on-site fitting for a fee, local councils and NGO’s will also sometimes offer fitting days free of charge to local residents and there’s also professional services such as ourselves who can offer both on-site and mobile fittings for a fee.

 

Click here for a list of RMS Accredited Fitters in NSW. 


4. Do-It-Yourself Installation - Things to Watch Out For

If you decide to install the capsule or restraint yourself it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines closely. There are often installation instructions and guides to be found in the manual of the capsule or restraint. It’s also good to cross-reference these against the owner’s manual of your vehicle as well. More and more manufacturers now offer installation instructions by way of video content as this is often easier for a lot of folks to understand. Just be careful to ensure that any content you refer to is specific to the Australian marketplace and if in doubt please consult and accredited fitter, such as ourselves.

 

The main points to watch out for are:

 

•   Is the capsule or restraint able to be used?  I.e. free from damage or heavy soiling, manufacture date visible (capsules and restraints must be less than 10 years old), heigh markers visible and harness and tether straps easily adjustable and not damaged.

•   Is the restraint snug-fitting through the belt path? Note, you can only use Isofix or the seat belt path, not both.

•   Are the straps at or above the child’s shoulders, not dipping below?


5. It works with your vehicle

Not every baby capsule or child restraint will fit in every vehicle well. Before you buy the capsule or restraint, we thoroughly recommend physically placing them in the vehicle to ensure they are suitable for your vehicle. Some capsules have wide footprint, some restraints have a fairly tight footprint and even the makeup of seats within vehicles change a lot with respect to materials, angels of the seats, how the seatbelts operate, etc.  If in doubt, it always pays to consult a professional such as ourselves. 

 

6. Checks and maintenance done regularly

As a parent, your duties don't end when you put the baby capsule in place. Check the harness system often to make sure it stays safe and isn't broken. Look for signs of wear and tear and fix any problems right away. Make it a habit to check the installation every so often and keep the straps clean and untangled. Maintenance is the most important thing you can do to keep your child safe in the car.

 

7. Get help from a professional to fix or adjust things.

As your child grows you may be concerned when or how to adjust the capsule or harness, or even if it’s time to move to the next restraint up.  Again, always check the manufacturer guidelines (restraint manual) or consult an accredited fitter such as ourselves.  Often, such questions can be answered with a quick video call and don’t require a physical visit. 

 

10. Make plans ahead of time for long trips

Extra care should be taken to make sure your child is comfortable and safe on long road trips. Take stops often to feed, change, and check on your child. Before you start your trip, make sure the baby capsule fits firmly. If you're not sure about something, have a skilled installer give it a full check-up before the trip.

 

Summary

Making sure your child is safe is very important, and installing the baby capsule correctly is a key part of doing this. You can give your child the safest trip experience possible by following Australian safety standards, picking the right capsule, and getting professional installation help. Continue to learn and be alert, and enjoy being a parent with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your child is safe in every car ride.

 

If you are looking for a baby capsule fitting, check our baby seat installation page!

 

 

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