Child Restraints Guide
I decided to put together this Child Restraints Guide for our customers due to the huge amount of questions we are asked in store.
As experts in Child Restraints and so many questions, I will try to address the most common for you here. From the most simple and obvious to the not so obvious.
Child Restraint FAQ
Is a Child Restraint really necessary?
Children are particularly vulnerable when travelling in a car, so yes. Besides being illegal for a child not to be in one, it is dangerous.
- Children require the appropriate restraint for their size:
- Infant restraints / baby capsules (for babies – newborn to about 6 months or 12 months)
- Child seats (for very young children – from either newborn of about 6 months to 4 years old)
- Booster seats and harnesses (for young children – from about 4 years old to 10 years old is recommended – the law states up to 7 years old)
- You can now get car seats designed for birth through to approximately 8 years of age such as the Mothers Choice Ascend
- Seat belts (for older children).
Is Professional Car Seat Fitting really needed for Child Restraints?
Yes and No. All of our capsules, car seats and booster seats come with instructions on how to fit your seat to your vehicle. However, if this is your first child, we highly recommend it.
The statistics also show that around 85% of new parents who install baby seats themselves, do so incorrectly.
Every vehicle is different. Some will require gated buckles and other devices to ensure a firm but safe fitment. That it is level in the vehicle and fitted so that baby’s head wont flop forward unnecessarily.
A child restraint installed incorrectly is dangerous.
Do I have to keep getting it checked or re-installed?
Initial Car Seat Fitting / Installation is only 5-10% of correct use and yet in some circles it gets 95% of the attention.
You will most likely remove and re-install your Child restraints in vehicles many times over during the life of a child, so this is a very valid question.
The best solution is to have the child restraint fitting done and then make sure that the installer spends time with you explaining how to do it correctly, including the correct tension on the seat belts, how to get it level etc. That way you can do it yourself and be confident.
We do this for every customer in store. When you purchase from us, we install it and we train you for free.
If you are not confident – then yes, get a professional to check your re-installation.
Do I need to wear a seat belt during pregnancy?
You must wear a seat belt when pregnant. It is the law. Sometimes mums ask this as they are finding it uncomfortable driving whilst pregnant. The Australian Government states that it is safer for both you and your baby to wear a seat belt than to not. As a result, the law reflects this.
How should I wear the seat belt while pregnant?
Place the lap (the lower part of the seat belt):
- Over your upper thighs
- Across your hips
- Below your baby.
Place the sash (the upper part of the seat belt):
- Over your shoulder
- Between your breasts
- Above your baby.
Which Child Restraint / Car Seat do I Buy?
There is no simple answer to this because everyone’s needs are different. We all drive different cars for a start. Is this the first car seat being installed in the car or the second or third? Do you intend on having another child? Will you need to fit 3 Child Restraints across the back seat? How much leg room is there in the vehicle that you drive?
The short answer is this. Only buy from a baby store that is owner operated. That is, the owner or owners work in the store with customers. After decades of being in this business, we have learned that large stores owned by investors or investment groups typically have high staff turnovers and never have real experts with years of experience to give you the right advice.
My team for example are highly trained and have been in the business for many years themselves. We have our own team members who are qualified and experienced car seat fitters who can also help you choose the right car seat for your needs. We will inspect your vehicle if you have it with you and even show you the differences in fitment, legroom you will have in the front seat after installation etc.
Should I rent a car seat?
I am not a fan. Believe me, we could make a lot of money renting car seats, however I have decided not to. The reason comes down to the fact that once a child restraint has been in any form of a car accident, it can not be re-used ever. There is no way of testing the integrity properly. They can have hair line cracks that can not be seen by the naked eye. As a result, most insurance companies will replace them as part of your policy.
The problem with rentals is that not everyone is honest. Hire companies may not even be told if they had an accident as the hirer may not want to pay the excess.
I am not prepared to put our customer’s child’s life at risk – so we don’t do it, nor do we recommend it, unless you have no other choice, such as on a holiday or short term use.
My car has an airbag for the front passenger. Can I put my baby in the front passenger seat?
Never ever ever. In fact, front air bags are very dangerous to a baby, regardless if the child if forward facing or rear facing. Even if your car does not have a front-passenger airbag, your baby is safer if you place the child restraint in the back seat.
We will never install them in the front seat for a customer, ever.
Do I need a Booster Seat Professionally Installed and Fitted to the vehicle.
Like baby car seats, the answer is the same – Yes and No. If this is your first use of a booster seat, then we highly recommend it. At the same time, get the car seat fitter to show you how to correctly use it and install it yourself. What the correct tension is etc. Remember every vehicle install is different. This is especially the case if multiple child restraints are installed across the back seat.
Everyone’s needs are different. The best way to choose the right child restraint for your exact situation is to find true experts and ask for help. I can not stress the importance of getting the right advice from true experts , not just a sales assistant working in a large multi-store who may not even be working there next month.
We have a full team of highly trained staff on child restraints. Do not hesitate to seek advice from us. We are here to help.
About the Author
Frank is a founding owner of Bubs n Grubs. He is also the sole author of the Bubs n Grubs Baby Blog. He has been personally evaluating baby products & testing them before offering them to our customers since 2009. In addition, he is consistently giving manufacturer’s feedback & product development advice, reviewing & getting customer feedback. He has been doing this since the business started in 2009. He is proud to be one of the rare baby store owners in Australia who regularly engages with customers in his store. Frank values the constant feedback and regularly seeks it out. He has been featured on the Morning Show & the Today Show on Channel 7 and Channel 9 and is a recognised expert in baby products as a result.