Child car seats

Child car seats

Whenever children are in a car, they must be safely buckled up in child car seats that are correct for each child’s age and size.  

The Child Restraint Evaluation Program has independent and consistent information to help you choose safe child car seats. The program tests child car seats by rating their level of protection in a crash and how easy they are to use correctly. The results are shown on the Child Car Seats website.

The website lets you find and compare more than 200 types of forward facing, rear facing and booster seats. You can find details of how each seat is tested and rated. The site also explains how to use seats correctly and check if they're still safe. There are also answers to common questions. 

Get the facts

Child restraint laws 

  • Children up to the age of 6 months must be secured in an approved rearward facing child car seat.  
  • Children aged from 6 months to 4 years old must be secured in either a rear or forward facing approved child car seat with an inbuilt harness.  
  • Children under 4 years old can't travel in the front seat of a vehicle with 2 or more rows. 
  • Children aged 4-7 years old must be secured in a forward facing approved child car seat with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat.  
  • Children aged 4-7 years old can't travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than 7 years in an approved child car seat or booster seat.  
  • Children aged 7-16 years old who are too small to be properly restrained by a seatbelt (see the five-step test) are strongly recommended to use either a forward-facing seat with an in-built harness for older children, an approved booster seat, or an approved child safety harness together with the vehicle’s seatbelt. 
  • Children in booster seats must be restrained by a suitable lap and sash-type approved seatbelt that's properly adjusted and fastened, or by a suitable approved child safety harness that's properly adjusted and fastened.  

Child car seats have shoulder height markers to show that your child fits in the seat properly. If your child is too small for the child car seat specified for their age, keep them in their current child car seat until it's safe for them to move to the next level.  

If your child is too large for the child car seat specified for their age, they may move to the next level of child car seat/seatbelt. 

Tools and tips

Five-step test

The five-step test can help assess whether your child is big enough to use a seatbelt. Answering yes to each step means your child is ready for a seatbelt. The child should be able to:   

  1. Sit all the way back against the seat back.  
  2. Bend their knees comfortably over the front edge of the vehicle seat.  
  3. Sit with the sash belt across their mid-shoulder. 
  4. Sit with the lap belt across the top of their thigh. 
  5. Stay seated in this position for the whole trip.  

Find more about moving your child to the next type of child car seat, or from a booster seat to an adult seatbelt on the Child Car Seats website.  

Fitting stations

Follow the manufacturer's instructions when fitting child car seats. If the instructions are lost, contact the manufacturer or search for them online.

For safe installation, it's recommended that all child car seats are fitted and checked at an Authorised Restraint Fitting Station.   

Restraint Fitters Manual

Our Restraint Fitters Manual (PDF, 2.61 MB) assists restraint fitters accredited under the Transport for NSW Authorised Restraint Fitting Station Scheme in the correct installation and use of child car seats.

The manual has been developed by Transport for NSW in consultation with Crashlab, VicRoads and Neuroscience Research Australia. The manual applies to all types of light vehicles.

Passenger safety

It's illegal to leave a child unattended in a car where they might be in distress or their health is in danger. Sometimes children won’t want to buckle up. They may not understand the safety reasons, be restless or want to do it their way. It's important to have family rules about safe driving, tell your children about them and follow them every time you're in the car.  

When buckling children in or driving them around, talk to them about:  

  • child car seats and how seatbelts keep us safe  
  • why children can never stay in the car alone 
  • the Safety Door (rear door closest to the kerb, footpath or gutter and away from the road) and why it’s the safest door to use. 

Safe transport for children with disabilities and medical conditions

Specialised help and information is available to support the safety of children with disabilities and medical conditions as passengers in motor vehicles. For more information and resources, visit Mobility and Accessibility for Children in Australia Ltd (MACA).


Never leave a child alone in a car, even for short periods.

They’re in danger of:  

  • heat stress and dehydration – parked cars can heat up fast, even with the windows down  
  • burns from hot seatbelt buckles and vinyl fittings 
  • playing with car controls such as hand brakes, gear levers, cigarette lighters, power windows and the ignition 
  • car thieves.