Upgrading your child's car seat: When is it the right time?

Upgrading from one car seat to the next

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Every child is different, however, as a general rule, you should only move your child to the next level of protection when they no longer fit their current child car seat. Your child will usually indicate when they are uncomfortable and even when they are very young, you should be able to notice discomfort. Here is a checklist to cover the different stages of moving through car seats:

From rear-facing to forward-facing

  • When your baby is between 6-12 months and can hold their head up
  • Your baby’s car seat has shoulder marks printed or sewn on the cover, move your baby to a forward-facing car seat when their shoulders have passed the upper marks

From forwarding-facing to booster seat

  • Their shoulders no longer fit comfortably within the child seat
  • Their eye level is higher than the back of the seat.
  • The top insertion slots for the shoulder straps are below the level of your child’s shoulders

From booster seat to seat belt.

This five-step test can help assess whether your child is ready for a seatbelt:

  1. Sit with their back against the seatback
  2. Bend their knees comfortably over the front of the seat cushion
  3. Sit with the sash belt across their mid-shoulder
  4. Sit with the lap belt across the top of their thighs
  5. Remain in this position for the whole trip

Travelling on public transport when a car seat is required

As you start getting out and about more with your baby, you may also come to a point where you want or need to take public transport. Each state will have different laws when it comes to safety requirements, so it is best to check in with your local state or destination if you are travelling interstate.

In New South Wales, taxi drivers are required to ensure:

  • All passengers younger than 6 months must be secured in an approved rearward-facing car seat
  • All passengers aged 6 months to less than 6 months must be secured in an approved rearward or forward-facing child car seat
  • In New South Wales, all wheelchair accessible taxis are required to carry an approved child car seat. If you need a car seat for your child, you should ask for one when booking a taxi or take one with you.

In Victoria, taxi drivers do not have to provide a child car seat or booster seat but must ensure their vehicle has an anchor point so that a child car seat can be fitted.

References: NSW Government Centre for Road Safety

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