New national safety guidelines for childseats for babies and young children have been released.
Put together by the Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Kidsafe, the National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles build on existing safety advice, but this year include five major changes parents should be aware of.
Among these are changes to advice for parents with lower weight babies – those less than 2.5kg or preemie babies, with the updated guidelines now recommending they should only use rear-facing restraints designed for lower weight infants, until they can snugly fit in a regular rear facing restraint.
Parents of small babies are also advised to limit the time they spend in car seats and keep a close eye on them (ie by using a mirror) to minimise the risk of apnoea.
High backed booster seats are now recommended up to eight years of age, at which point parents may switch to an integrated booster so long as it is adjacent to a curtain airbag. Integrated boosters are no longer recommended for kids under eight years.
When transitioning kids from using a booster seat to an adult seat belt, its recommended parents follow their five step test to check they’re ready, saying height is not a good guide.
Instead, they recommend a child’s head meets the headrest, that sitting fully back in their seat their knees are at the edge of the seat, that the belt sits across their lap and the sash sits against their shoulder.
Previously the guidelines had advised kids transition when they reached between 145-150cm in height.
Other changes include more commone-sense advice, such as that all kids – including slouchy older kids in booster seats, should always sit in an upright position when travelling. And that when using a taxi or private ride share service that parents only use a restraint that is recommended for their child’s size and age.