Car Seat Fitting FAQ

Should the baby car seat move ?

A common recommendation is that the child restraint should not move more than 2.5cm. At the other extreme, the child restraint installation should not be rock hard. A rock hard installation removes the elasticity of the seat belt webbing, and can damage the restraint, resulting in more energy being transferred to your child. A common technique used by parents is the wiggle wobble test; where the the extreme endpoint on the child restraint is pushed repeatedly. The correct technique is to test the stability; at the seat belt installation path. Rocking the child restraint at an end point, damages the installation and loosens the fitment making the installation not as secure. If you are in doubt about the installation of your baby car seat; consult with us for guidance.

Should the Car Seat Installation must be ROCK HARD ?

Many Parents believe that the car seat installation needs to be ROCK HARD. Some Professional Car seat Fitters even proclaim No-one can get a firmer car seat install than them. FACT : A car seat installation does NOT need to be Rock HARD. In-fact making a car seat installation ROCK HARD is actually compromising the installation of the car seat and the safety of your child. The reason behind this conclusion is that when the seat belt is ROCK hard; the seat belt can NO longer absorb any energy from an emergency stop. A Good car seat installer will explain to the customer that it should not be rock hard.

Can my 6 month old be turned to be front facing ?

A child should not be forward facing at 6 months of age despite what the law stipulates (i.e a child must be rear facing up to 6 months of age). Best Practice from the car seat manufacturers is that the child must be at least rear facing until they reach the first shoulder height marker (12 to 14 months of age). When the baby car seat has been tested for extended rear facing best practice is to keep your child rear facing for as long as possible, up until the extended rear facing height marker.

When should I turn my Baby’s Car Seat around ?

The Best Practise in baby car seat fitting; is to keep our children travelling rearward facing for as long as you can. Most Convertible car seats (birth to 4 years of age) are classified as either A2/B or A4 /B car seats. An A2/B can be identified by having only 2 shoulder height markers and will keep an average child rear facing for approximately 12 to 14 months. An A4/B convertible baby car seat is identified by three shoulder height markers. The lowest shoulder height marker is the minimum torso length your child must reach before they can be turned around to forward facing (average age 12 to 14 months). The middle shoulder height marker is the extended rear facing marker and corresponds to an average child of 30 months (for Britax and Infa Secure). When your child’s shoulders this shoulder height marker, they must be turned forward facing. Despite the age range that seat manufactures dictate it is the maximum size indicators in the seat that determine if the child has grown out of the restraint.

The installation of your Baby car seat should be done at least 4 weeks prior to your due date. This will allow you to get sufficient experience in using your child restraint prior to the birth.

Do not bother with a Baby shop car seat fitting or a motor mechanic, choose an ACRI accredited car seat fitter with experience in Melbourne.

Since the approval of the AS1754:2010 Shoulder height markers have been added to all child restraints.

The shoulder height markers make it easier for parents and carers to determine if a baby car seat is suitable for their child and when the child needs to move to the next type of restraint.

On some restraints it will determine when the restraint needs to be changed to the next mode, such as moving from Rear facing to forward facing.

How tight should the harness be

Many parents understand they two finger test to verify if the harness tension on their child is sufficient. Unfortunately most parents execute this test incorrectly. The two finger test should be done at the collar bone and there should not be any padding in the way. When your child is newborn then it is very difficult to execute the two finger test.

A better test to check the tightness of the harness is to do the pinch test. When the pinch test can be done easily with one hand then the harness is still too loose.

Cars are designed to keep adults safe when travelling in the car. Sports cars and cars with larger engines will have deeply bucketed seats. The purpose of the bucket seat is to protect the adult; so that they will not slide forward under emergency braking.

Unfortunately many vehicle seats do not provide a suitable angle for a rear facing baby car seat. The Problems many parents encounter is head flop, caused by deep bucket seats and the baby car seat height too upright.

Many Car seat fitters will use a towel to get the correct back angle for your child to help avoid head flop.

Infa Secure have a foam roller designed to correct this issue where the seats are deep and bucketed and to prevent head flop of your child.

What is extended harnessing

Extended harnessing is where the child stays in a child restraint with a 6 point harness until they have reached a torso length of 51 cm. The 6 point harness is much safer than just the normal lap-sash seat belt (this is why racing car drivers use a 5/6 point full harness when racing)

Extended harnessing was introduced as many parents were moving their children into boosters seats pre-maturely, ie the children may have reached the age of 4 but were not sufficiently tall enough to cope with a booster seat, as the sash part of the seat belt was not going across the middle of the shoulder and was too close to the neck of the child.

Examples of Extended harnessing seats

When looking at extended harnessing seats a number of criteria need to be fulfilled.

1/ is the harness a hassle free harness(ie you do not need to manually rethread the harness)
2/ can the harness be adjusted with one hand easily
3/ Does the harness have a good recline angle to help children sleep without head flop.

Child restraints which meet this criteria include

  • maxi guard
  • maxi guard pro (note pro version cost approx $120 more with thermo fabric)
  • Infa Grandeur (also a A4 rear facing child restraint)
  • Infa Evolve

it is this fitters opinion that the maxi cosi luna does not meet these criteria and is also not as good value as the other child restraints mentioned above.

Boosters Vs Extended harnessing

Yes extended harnessing seats are safer than booster seats, a booster requires the child to be the correct age and the correct height. An extended harnessing seats can be used immediately when the child is forward facing and you do not need to wait until they are 4 years of age. A extended harnessing seat also has the advantage of a 6 point harness to keep your child safe

Many Parents prefer to use a baby capsule / carrier for the first six months. The benefits of a baby capsule is that you do not disturb the sleep of your baby when transitioning from the car to the pram. Bubs can sleep un-disturbed in this transition.

Another GREAT advantage of a baby capsule installation is that all you need is a second base installed in your parents car and it is so much easier on the grand-parents; if they need to pick up your child from child-care in an emergency. The cost of hiring a second base for the baby capsule is approximately half the cost of the capsule couple of months. In Comparison to several hundreds of dollars for a convertible car seat.

The Baby capsule fitting should ideally be on the passenger side of the vehicle; mainly due to the narrow centre position and the split in the back seat making it unsafe to install a capsule in the middle when the upper tether may fall between the split

Seat Belt Extenders have not been tested with the child restraints and it is not recommended to use a seat belt extender as it is another possible point of failure.

A better solution is to use an extended harnessing type G child restraint (such as the Britax Maxi Guard or Infa Evolve Origin); which keeps your child using the harness of the child restraint until they are approximately 8 years of age.

In a single cab ute which only has one row of seats, children may travel in the front row provided they use an approved child restraint or booster seat..

A rear facing baby car seat cannot be used in the front row of a car/ute.

Many websites quote that the middle seat is the safest position; away from airbags and the door in case of side impacts. What do you do when you have more that 1 child; ask yourself which is my favorite child?

The safest position is the position where the seat can be installed the best and where the baby car seat can be adjusted and maintained correctly.

Fact – in australia; you are more likely to be rear ended and there is a high chance your child has taken their arms out of the harness and in the middle there is nothing stopping them from going through the wind-screen

In nearly ever car; each car seat must have its own anchor point. The are special circumstances and vehicles where one anchor point is used; and two car seats are attached, but for all passenger vehicles each car seat must have its own anchor point.

LATCH = Lower Anchor and ether for Children.

LATCH is a attachment system used in the american markert. Latch is not approved to be used in Australia.

Baby Car Seats in Australia use the tether strap with either isofix or seat belt for lateral stability.

Boosters seats can either be with a tether strap or without a tether strap.

When a Booster seats does not have a tether strap it is called a un-tethered booster seat or a sometimes booster seat, not intended for every day use. A sometimes booster seat weighs under 2kg and doe not offer much protection.

A tethered booster seat offers safety features such as; an adjustable head-rest, anti-submarining features, side protection and sash guides to keep the sash across the collar-bone.

Yes Baby Bunting do install baby car seats. However that is all they do, your installation appointment is reduced to 15-20 minutes, with little time for you to ask questions or to experience the car seat.

When the weather to too hot (over 35 C) or it is raining, or if you are 5 minutes late; your appointment will be CANCELLED

Should you not purchase a britax car seat, you will be told the car seat will not fit into the car.

The fast expansion of baby bunting mean your are getting inexperienced sales staff/ fitters who do not understand all the issues at hand.

Did you know you can get an experienced ACRI Mobile car seat fitter who will come to your home / office and let you experience how the car seat works.