"I can't have more kids. Because of my car."

It sounds kind of ridiculous, but changes to car seat regulations are impacting on family size.

Most parents would know, that over the last few years there have been big changes to car seat and car safety regulations in NSW. But have the new changes to car seats made it difficult for parents to have the number of children they desire?

Recently, I went to have a car seat fitted professionally in my car. During the appointment I got to talking to the installer. He was telling me that children up to 7 years of age must be in a car seat (type dependent on height/age/weight) and that while it’s not a legal requirement, the recommendation is actually for children up to 12-years-old to remain in an approved seat. 12? That’s potentially a high school student!

It is now recommended that children up to the age of 12 years be restrained in tethered booster seats

As a parent, it becomes a very tricky, very expensive exercise in order to comply with the regulations.

You see, most cars will take 2 approved seats across the back seat.

Three becomes tricky depending on the type of car you have.

It wasn't a problem previously if you had 3 children because likely, your eldest would have outgrown their car seat, and therefore be able to fit between the younger two across the back seat. Now, a quick search of the NRMA Car Seat Fitting Advice highlights that not all cars, in fact fewer than you think, can accommodate 3 cars seats professionally installed (which is recommended due to the fact that 80% of car seats are actually incorrectly installed in private vehicles).

You should always have your car seats checked by a professional. 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly.

So, for many, including myself, a new car is often required if you'd like more than 2 children and as we know, bigger cars mean a higher cost (not to mention the cost of running a bigger, more powerful car).

Let's say that you're one of these crazy types, like me, who dream of a larger family. With car seats costing up to $700 each, that's a bloody exxy trip to the shops to fit out three children.


Four kids? Get that credit card out, my friend. Don't even think about having a spare seat on hand to accommodate the kids' friends or young family members unless you can extend the home loan.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I understand the need for road safety, but at some point, the actual reality of the situation needs consideration by those behind desks. With car seats required up to the age of 7 (recommended up to 12) families are needing to buy bigger cars, and fork out hundreds and hundreds of dollars each time someone changes the regulations.

I was also told by the fitter that it's recommended car seats be installed professionally as mentioned before, which is great, except for the fact that sometimes grandma might like to take one or some of the children in her car.  This, means, if you do everything "by the book" either purchasing more seats for her car and having them installed permanently, or paying additional fees ($40 per seat when I last checked) to have the seats moved around. (Four kids at $40 per seat one way, and then $40 per seat to return the seats to the original car. You do the maths).

The (very slow) introduction of ISOFOX car seats (approved in Australia but not yet available on the market) will obviously help in this situation, however from what I can see, these seats will be very expensive (rumoured starting price of around $600) and will only help those who have forked out for new cars equipped with ISOFOX connection points.

So, what do you do if you can't afford a new ISOFOX compatible, seven-seater car?

Do you consider practical issues like transport when deciding on your family size?

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