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Child Restraints

DO we have to provide you with horror stories about the way some people strap their kids into cars to ram home the message about child restraints?

Of course not.

But the fact remains that most people - and surveys have shown 70 percent of you - have had some difficulty fitting a restraint properly.

It's important to know the different types of restraints and when to use them.

The NSW RTA provides the following advice:

INFANTS (up to 9kg, about 6 months) - keep the child in an approved rearward-facing restraint until he or she physically won't fit.

Before moving to a forward-facing child seat, your child must be able to sit and easily hold his or her head upright.

TODDLERS (9kg up to approximately 18kg, 6 months to 5 years) - use an approved child seat.

Don't move your child into a booster seat if another baby comes along because nothing else offers the same level of crash protection.

Keep your child in the seat until he or she is too big for it.

OLDER CHILDREN (up to 26 kg, about 6 years) - a booster seat often improves seatbelt fit and helps reduce car sickness by enabling your child to see out of the vehicle.

As a general guide, buy a rigid booster seat (with a back), side wings and a sash guide to keep the seatbelt in place.

NEVER use it with a lap-only belt.

GOLDEN RULES

Before you buy, get hold of the child restraint crash test results from your state motoring authority.

An invaluable guide.

Install the restraint carefully, following the manufacturer's instructions.

If the instructions have been lost, most manufacturers will mail out a copy upon request.

Many states have restraint fitting stations that can help you.

Again, check with your local state motoring authority.

Always use the centre rear position, except where a lap-only belt and booster seat is combined.

Ensure the top tether strap and the adult seatbelt that keeps the restraint in position are properly adjusted - they shouldn't have any slack.

Use the minimum number of tether extension straps.

Be aware of the effect sunlight and poor air circulation can have on infants.

Exposure and dehydration are a real threat, but can be easily counteracted with window screens and direct ventilation.

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