In Australia, booster seats and forward-facin car seats are suitable for children from 4-7 years of age.
When you’re looking at buying a car seat or slim booster seat for older, larger children, it’s important to know the differences between the two types available before you hit the shops.
Booster seats in Australia are designed to provide side impact protection, but their primary function is to correctly position the vehicle seat belt to safely restrain the child. Booster seats are held in place by the child’s own body and the vehicle's lap-sash seat belt. It is the vehicle seat belt that is the actual restraining device on a kids car booster seat.
A forward-facing car seat like our Luna Pro enables children to continue to use an in-built 6 point harness system up until the age of 8 years old, this is a perfect solution for parents that are wanting to keep their older children completely restrained.
The below is an easy guide to help you navigate between the two, so you can decide what’s best for you.
Forward Facing Car Seats
When using a forward-facing car seat for your infant - 8 year old it must:
- be securely attached to the car seat by the seat belt
- have its top tether strap attached
- have an inbuilt harness.
When putting the inbuilt harness on your child, the straps must come out of the slots just above their shoulders. If the straps are more than 25mm below your child's shoulders you will need to move the straps to a higher slot.
You should move your child to a larger forward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness or a booster seat if their shoulders:
- are above the highest slot for the harness, or
- have reached the shoulder height marker available on some restraints.
Booster seats are for use with your cars' lap-sash seatbelt by children whose shoulders are above the lower shoulder height marker (approx. 4 years of age) until child’s shoulders reach the upper shoulder height marker (approx. 8 years of age).
Booster seats are held in place by the child’s own body and the vehicle's lap-sash seat belt. A child can be injured in a crash if the seat belt is not properly adjusted.
Tips when choosing and using a child booster seat
- Check that the sash of the seat belt crosses your child's shoulder and does not touch their neck. The sash guide on the booster seat can be adjusted to prevent this. Booster seats like our Rodi AP, have built-in lap-sash guides that will help you perfectly position the lap-sash on your child.
- It's important to remember that you must use the top tether strap when you use a booster seat.
- Choose a booster seat with an expandable headrest so you can adjust the height of the booster seat as your child grows.
Boosters seats VS car seats: Choose what's best for your child
We all know that kids grow at different rates and there can be huge discrepancies with weight and heights at various ages. Choosing the right booster seat or car seat for your child is absolutely imperative to their safety.
Even if your child has reached 4 years of age, they might not be comfortable or ready to sit in a booster seat in your car. We recommend that you restrain your child in a forward facing seat with a harness until they have reached the size restrictions no matter their age.
Front or back seat?
Children aged 4 years old to under 7 years old can only sit in the front seat if all of the back seats are taken by other passengers under 7 years old.
If your vehicle does not have a back seat (e.g. a ute) they can travel in the front seat if they are in a child restraint as long as the airbags are de-activated.
When can a child use a booster seat?
As you may already know, there is no one size fits all solution for kids car booster seats. From the age of 4 or when they have reached the growth markers on their forward facing car seat, they should be able to use a booster seat comfortably. Generally speaking up until approx. 12 years of age, kids booster seats will be used, but it is reliant on their growth in height and weight.
Are booster seats legal in Australia?
Yes, booster seats are legal and compulsory in Australia. Children aged seven years and up must travel sitting in a booster car seat that is either secured with a lap sash or a child safety harness specific to that seat.
Can children sit in the front seat?
If your child is between 4 and 7 years old, they can only occupy the front seat of a car in a booster seat if all of the other spots are taken up by passengers under 7 years old. If your vehicle doesn’t have a backseat, then your child can travel in the front seat as long as they are sitting in a booster car seat.