Child restraints are designed to be installed in most passenger vehicles, without requiring any additional after market fitting accessories.
Incorrect use and placement of additional comfort or fitting accessories by parents and carers can reduce the safety of the installation and should only be used if recommended by a qualified restraint fitter.
Accessories for child restraints, other than those supplied upon purchase by the manufacturer and crash tested with the restraint under either AS/NZS 1754 or AS/NZS 8005 are not recommended.
Reasons why accessories should not be used
The following reasons apply to some specific accessory items that are sometimes used in conjunction with children in child restraints. None of these accessory items are recommended for a variety of reasons.
Several common designs of seatbelt positioners link the sash and lap sections of a seatbelt, raising the lap belt up into the abdomen which increases the risk of submarining and abdominal injuries. If children cannot fit well in an adult seatbelt, they should use a booster seat with a lap-sash seatbelt.
Buckle covers and other devices to stop a child from unbuckling a restraint can impede the rapid removal of the child in the event of an emergency (e.g. after a crash). Behavioural solutions are preferred wherever possible. If you do need to utilise a buckle cover aim to buy the model simplest to remove.
Padding, pillows and cushions
Adding additional padding, pillows and cushions that surround the head or neck that are not provided by the manufacturer and tested with the restraint, may result in the inbuilt harness or seatbelt being slack and/or encourage incorrect seated posture and therefore not optimal belt positioning. Pillows behind the head might increase the risk of head injuries in side impacts by pushing the head forward and beyond the side wings of a restraint.
Belt tensioners and other fitting accessories
After market belt tensioners are generally not required for standard installations. Where they are required the restraint manufacturer will provide an appropriate accessory and include instructions on how to use the tensioner in the manual. If used with booster seats or seatbelts, they can lead to injury if over tightened and they may make the seatbelt buckle
more difficult to unbuckle in the event of an emergency. When used incorrectly to install a child restraint, they may deform the restraint, reducing the restraint’s strength.
A seatbelt extender is an extra piece which goes between the male and female ends of the seatbelt and makes the belt longer and more accessible. Originally designed to be used by obese adults to allow them to buckle up where the belt would have otherwise been too short to meet and buckle up. However they are now advertised as a solution to a variety of “problems” such as making it easier to buckle a child into a booster or carseat.
Seatbelt extenders should not be used if the buckle is located in contact with the child’s body. They can introduce slack into the belt which could increase the chance of the buckle being located in front of a child’s abdomen and causing injury. They can also interfere with the correct belt path if used with a booster seat. They also require the parents or carer to check that both the extender buckle and main belt buckle are connected each time, with the possibility that one buckle can be inadvertently unsecured without the knowledge of the carer.
Toys and entertainment accessories
Rigid toys and other types of entertainment accessories may pose a risk of injury if they come in contact with the child in a
crash. Also, if not secured, rigid toys may become projectiles in a crash and injure any of the vehicle occupants. Only soft toys that contain no rigid parts should be used unsecured in a vehicle.
Designed to prevent the child from removing their arms from the inbuilt harness, pose a strangulation hazard and could injure the child’s throat or chest in a crash or the chest. Behavioural solutions to a child slipping their arms out of a harness should be employed wherever possible.
Sun shades or insect nets, which cover both the child and restraint, may prevent a parent or carer from seeing a child misusing their child restraint or in distress. Such covers may reduce air circulation and result in the overheating of children.
If you have any questions or require any assistance with your restraints feel free to reach out, our staff are always happy to help.