Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia


National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles   



Below is a summary of the Guidelines as outlined in the Consumer documents. For a printable copy of the detailed consumer document click here.

Recommendations for keeping children as safe as possible:

These outline the safest practices for children travelling in cars. There are also minimum legal requirements that must be followed, and these are listed below the best practice recommendations.

When they outgrow their rear facing child restraint


Children from birth, should use rearward facing child restraints (RFCR) for as long as they fit within them.

**For restraints certified to AS/NZS1754(2004) or earlier which do not have shoulder height markers, the sign of the child having outgrown the restraint is when the child's shoulders are above the top shoulder harness strap slot for rearward facing use.

**For restraints certified under AS/NZS1754(2010) or later, the sign of the child having outgrown the restraint is when the child’s shoulders are above the upper shoulder height marker for rearward facing restraint use.

  Why this is important:

  Numerous studies provide evidence that forward facing restraints, particularly
  those with top tether straps, as required in Australia, better protect children than an
  adult seat belt during a crash, all the way up to the age of 6 (and in some studies,

  Children are best protected if the restraint straps spread the crash forces over the
  body, and the built-in harness in forward-facing restraints can do this better than
  booster seats or seat belts. Also, young children’s hip bones are not developed
  enough to hold a seat belt down securely in a booster seat or seat belt.



Minimum legal requirement: Children from six months until they turn four years of age must be restrained in either a properly fastened and adjusted approved rear-facing child restraint or properly fastened and adjusted approved forward facing child restraint with a built-in harness.


For further information:


NHMRC Best Practice Guidelines for the Safe Restraint for Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles

  • National Child Car Restraint Guidelines - Detailed Consumer Document (A4 Booklet)
  • Child Car Restraint Guidelines - A Guide for Parents and Carers (DL Brochure)

    For information on safely restraining children in cars, contact your local Kidsafe state/territory office.
    More details about how these recommendations were developed and the research evidence can be found here