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Booster seats should be used once a child no longer fits into their forward facing restraint as indicated by the shoulder height markers. Booster seats are used with a lap/sash seatbelt for children who have outgrown a forward facing restraint.
Some booster seats are suitable for older children up to 8-10 years of age. These have adjustable head restraints and can accommodate children as they grow.
How long should my child use a booster seat for?
Children should use a booster seat until they outgrow it. An adult lap/sash seatbelt is designed for people with a minimum height of 145cm. Children who use an adult seatbelt too early are 3.5 times more likely to sustain a significant injury in a crash.
There are two types of booster seat available:
Single purpose booster seats with a back - designed to be used with a lap/sash seatbelt and may or may not have a top tether
Forward facing restraint/booster combinations - used as a forward facing restraint until at least age 4, then the seat can be used as a booster with a lap/sash belt.
Booster cushions were removed from the 2010 Australian Child Restraint Standard and are no longer manufactured, but are available on the second-hand market. They are not recommended for use because of safety concerns. Booster cushions do not offer side or head protection in a crash.
Use a booster with back and side wings for more protection in a crash.
Boosters with a top tether help secure the booster in a car.
Seatbelt guides help the sash pass over the child’s shoulder without cutting into their neck.
The seatbelt should sit flat on your child’s torso, and low and tight over their hips.
Some restraints have an anti-submarining clip which must be used to avoid children sliding under their seatbelt during a crash or heavy breaking, others may be designed to minimise submarining.
DO NOT use a booster seat with a lap-only belt and consider retrofitting a lap/sash seatbelt.
If retrofitting isn’t possible, the lap seatbelt should be used in conjunction with a H-harness to support the child’s torso in a crash. It is illegal and unsafe to use a booster with a lap-only belt.
A harness attaches to the anchor point and is used with the lap belt.
Restraints meeting older versions of the Australian standard may have weight based recommendations. While some of these models can still be legally used, it is important to remember that it’s not safe to use restraints that are more than 10 years old.
Not the right restraint for your child? Find out more about the other options available.