Law and standard
There are laws for the type of restraints children of a certain age need to travel in.
- birth to 6 months rearward facing restraint
- 6 months to 4 years rearward or forward facing restraint
- 4 to 7 years forward facing restraint or booster seat
- older than 7 years booster seat or adult seatbelt
While the law specifies the minimum, it’s safest to only move your child to the next type of restraint once they outgrow their current restraint. The restraint you choose must meet the Australian standard and be properly fastened and adjusted.
The law on where children can sit in cars
There are also laws on where children can sit in a car.
- from birth to under 4 years children must travel in the back seat in cars with two or more rows of seats
- 4 to younger than 7 years children can only travel in the front seat if all available back seats are being used by younger children.
- 7 years and older can legally travel in the front seat
While the law specifies a minimum, it is recommended to only allow your child to travel in the front seat when they are older than 12 years of age.
Australian child restraint standard AS/NZS 1754:2013
The law requires parents to only use child restraints that meet the Australian standard. These restraints display an Australian Standards approved sticker.
Features of the current standard include:
- age and shoulder height marking guides (not a weight based guide)
- colour coded seatbelt paths to make installation and use easier
- a design to minimise submarining
- booster seats for children up to 8-10 years of age
- forward facing restraint with a harness for children from approximately 6 months to 8 years of age
- ISOFIX compatible restraints
Note: Booster cushions were deleted from the standard in 2010 and are no longer manufactured. RACV does not recommend booster cushions as they do not provide any side impact or head protection.
older versions of the child restraint standard
Parents can still use restraints that meet the 2004 and 2010 versions of the AS/NZS 1754 standard. While models meeting these standards can still be legally used, it is not safe to use a restraint that is more than 10 years old.