Our Top Rules for Purchasing and Installing a Baby Car Seat
Follow our advice on how to purchase the best baby car seat for your newborn or toddler, to ensure they are as safe as possible
Study the Australian car seat laws
In this particular case, laws are not meant to be broken but to keep your child as safe as possible, no matter what happens on the road. As we’ve already outlined in one of our guides on baby and child car seats, all children up to the age of 7 must be seated in an appropriate car seat.
The seat you choose to install will depend on the child’s age and size, as the Australian law clearly states which model is appropriate for your child based on these two factors. So here’s the gist:
Infants up to 6 months old should be riding rear-facing in a baby capsule or a properly installed convertible car seat.
Babies between 6 months and 4 years must ride rear or front-facing in a baby car seat with an in-built harness.
Children between 4 and 7 years old can transition to a booster seat.
Make a choice between a capsule and a convertible seat
Both the baby capsule and a convertible car seat are adequate as long as you keep the child rear-facing for the first 6 months, at least. Which one you will go for depends solely on your preferences.
A baby capsule presents itself as a more practical accessory for those who want to be able to take their child in and out of the car quickly and without disturbing them. You can carry them around as you do your chores, or if at some point they get too heavy, the capsule can be attached to a wheelbase and transformed into a pram.
However, a capsule is adequate for infants only, which means your child is likely to outgrow it when they are about 6 months old. At this point, you’ll have to purchase a new car seat, which is an additional expense not many parents are happy with.
For this reason, some parents opt for a convertible car seat that can be installed both rear and front-facing and can answer the child’s needs for several years. To see how long a child can stay in a car seat you have purchased, check the manufacturer’s instructions. There you might also find the recommended time to switch the seat from rear to front-facing.
Keep the seat installed rear-facing as long as possible
While we are on the subject of the riding position, we’d like to emphasise just how important it is to keep the child rear-facing for as long as possible. The law obliges you to keep them in this position for a minimum of 6 months but more and more parents decide to keep their children rear-facing until they are approximately 2 years old.
This position reduces the impact on their head and neck in case you hit the brakes too hard and/or crash. As they are seated rear-facing, the child’s head will not bounce forward and you will avoid putting stress on their head and neck, which can result in terrible injury.
Purchase a new car seat, not a second-hand one
Even if you’re getting a car seat from a trusted friend or a family member, it’s not possible to know whether the seat is functioning to its fullest potential. Namely, car seats might feature some undetectable damages that could cause the seat to malfunction in an accident.
Though there’s no wear and tear on the seat and it looks as good as new, they cannot function as well. Always set aside the money for a new car seat - we understand welcoming a new family member can come with a hefty price tag, but a car seat is not something you should save money on.
Get a new car seat after the accident
As we already mentioned above: if the car seat has been in an accident, you can never be sure it will provide the safety a new seat can.
For this reason, Maxi-Cosi provides Accident Exchange Service to all of its customers who experienced a car crash. We offer to exchange new car seats to replace your old car seats, to give you a peace of mind and make sure your child is as safe as they can possibly be.
Ensure nothing is loose
First off - grab a seat by the base with both of your hands and try moving it side-to-side and front-to-back. If it moves more than 2.5 centimetres, it’s not tight enough and your child is at risk of falling forward and hitting the front car seat in case you crash. Check the manual once again, and if you’re still unable to install it on your own - consult a professional.
After the seat is installed and your child is strapped in it, check whether the harness is loose by pinching it at the top of the child’s shoulders. If there’s fabric between your fingers - it’s not tight enough!
Don’t toss the booster seat too early
Are you absolutely certain your child is old and mature enough to ride on their own, strapped only with an in-built car seat belt? A child transitions to a booster seat approximately at the age of 4 and rides in it until they are approximately 8 years old.
Nevertheless, parents are advised to keep their children in booster seats even past that age, as not all children can be properly protected with the seat belt. Here’s how you know:
The in-built car seat belt can be strapped across their chest and over their shoulder.
The lap belt doesn’t press their stomach but goes across their lap.
The child can ride with comfort, with their backs against the car seat, knees naturally bent over the edge, and with their feet on the floor.
The best car seat is the one that meets the Australian law and the seat that answers to your child’s needs in terms of safety and comfort.
Once you’re equipped with the best baby car seat, it is imperative to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, step by step, to ensure you installed it in your car the right way.