Rearward Facing Child Restraints

Infographic for RACV tips on rearward facing child restraints

Rearward facing restraints should be used from birth for as long as your baby’s shoulders fit between the shoulder height markers clearly labelled on the restraint.

There are two types of rearward facing restraints available:

  • Single purpose restraint - can only be used in a rearward facing position and used from birth to at least 6 months and until the child out-grows it
  • Convertible restraint - rearward facing until baby out-grows this position, then can be used as a forward facing restraint.

Convertible restraints can be used for longer than single purpose restraints. Keep in mind that they might be safer in one position over another. Babies are safer if they stay in their rearward facing restraint for as long as possible. You should only move your children to a forward facing child restraint when they have outgrown their rearward facing child restraint. Just because a child has reached the age of 6 months does not mean they are ready to travel in a forward facing child restraint.

Monthly safety checks for rearward facing seats

The harness strap slot nearest to the child’s shoulders, but not below the shoulders, should be used. When your child has outgrown the highest slot of their rearward facing restraint, they can be moved into a larger rearward facing restraint or forward facing child restraint.

Safety tips

  • Approximately 70% of child restraints are not installed correctly. A child restraint that is not fitted properly could result in serious injury or even death in a crash. It is strongly recommended that new restraints are professionally fitted by a trained child restraint fitter, so that parents can be shown how to fit the restraint correctly.
  • Adjust the harness to fit baby as snugly as possible, and ensure the straps are not twisted.
  • If you use a blanket, put it on over the top of the harness.
  • The baby’s nappy should not be thickly folded at the back, otherwise the baby’s back will not be evenly supported.
  • Never put a rearward facing child restraint in the front seat due to the high risk of injury from an airbag.

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.