Fact sheet: Travelling safely with your child

From the Centre for Community Child Health

We know that there can be things that make it harder for you to use child restraints and that knowing when to change your child into a new one – or out of them completely – can be tricky to figure out.

Young child strapped into car seat, looking out the car passenger window.

There are some basic guidelines that are essential for the use of child restraints:

  • Always use a child restraint in the car in a manner that adheres to the law in your state or territory.
  • Check the child restraint before every trip to make sure it’s secure and the straps aren’t twisted.
  • Make sure that your child is in the right child restraint for their age and size.

What your child needs to know

Using the child restraint properly is tricky if your child refuses to wear one. There are steps that you can take to make sure that your child knows that they have to be in their child restraint in the car and that there can be no negotiation.

Your child needs to know:

  • the rules about child restraints and that there will not be exceptions
  • that following the rules will earn them praise.

Avoid tantrums

To maximise your chances of seatbelt use without a tantrum you can:

  • choose the right time to start your trip, and try to avoid times when you’re going to interrupt your child’s usual routine
  • model seatbelt-wearing by always ensuring that you buckle up in the car
  • explain the rules to your child in an age-appropriate way
  • talk about what you’re doing as you buckle them in so there are no surprises
  • do something special with the child restraint – such as add stickers – to make it an interesting place to be
  • ensure that where the child seat is placed in the car allows your child to see you
  • praise good behaviour
  • chat with your child on the journey
  • keep an eye on your child so you can respond quickly if they undo the safety harness
  • do not start or continue the journey if your child undoes the buckle.

With a few different tactics in place, you can make car trips safer and easier for the whole family.

  • Travelling safely with your child

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