Car Seat Safety

General Tips

It is strongly recommended to have your child rear facing until 2 years of age or older – the longer the better.

Infants and young children have a disproportionately large head to body size ratio. A small child’s head weighs approximately 25% of their total body weight while in an adult this is approximately only 6.5% in comparison.

  • Do not place your restraint in a front seat, especially if there is an airbag
  • Back seat is safest!
  • Make sure the seat belt is routed correctly as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Ensure a locking clip is used especially if supplied by the manufacturer
  • Always ensure your child is securely fastened
  • Ensure there is no excessive sideways movement
  • Ensure the harness is firm against baby and blankets are always over the top of the harness
  • Always carefully follow instructions when installing your seat. If you are unsure, contact us – we are happy to help

When you hire or buy your car seat or restraint from Baby On The Move we will install it for FREE!

Why Rear Facing Car Seats Are Safer

While many Western countries now recommend rear-facing until at least 12 months to 2 years of age, Sweden has a long history of keeping their children in rear-facing child restraints until at least three years of age, sometimes until 5 years of age.

Very few children in this age group are killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents. Most of the very few fatalities that have occurred in Sweden have been in catastrophic accidents with major intrusions and/or fire and few other survivors. Bear in mind that this is in a country which has icy and snowy road conditions for 5-6 months of the year and also have many fatal car accidents involving collisions with large moose!

Children have poorly developed fragile and flexible neck muscles. When a forward-facing child’s heavy head is thrust forward in a crash, the child suffers an enormous amount of stress on neck. If the spinal cord stretches too far in a crash (a mere 6mm) the child may suffer paralysis or death. The young child’s cervical vertebrae are not strong enough to protect the spinal cord adequately when forward-facing in a frontal crash. As an example, an average three-year-olds head weighs on average 2.7kg, which means that in an accident at only 50km/h the head weighs 270 kilos!

In the event of an impact using a rear-facing child seat the whole of the child’s back takes the impact instead of only where the harness touches the body, consequently protecting the much more vulnerable neck, head and spine. The risk of serious injury or fatality has been shown to be five times less while travelling rear-facing.



Right seat, Right fit, Right child?

Choosing the correct car seat (child restraint) is an important part of keeping your child safe. All car seats are different; some will fit your child better than others. Some seats will fit in your vehicle and others will not. Before buying or hiring a car seat always check that it fits firmly into your vehicle. At Baby On The Move we will endeavour to ensure you have the safest and most suitable car seat for both your baby and your vehicle.

For your children to be safe the car seat needs to be fitted correctly. Always read the manufacturer's instruction and if in doubt please contact your nearest Baby On The Move representative who are highly trained and will show you how to install your car seat correctly. At Baby On The Move we believe it is so important to have your seat installed correctly and we will do this for free.

Do not put a car seat in the front seat if the vehicle has an air-bag. If you have no choice always put an older child in the front always ensure the seat is pulled as far away from the air-bag as possible or disable the air-bag. Never put a rear facing seat in the front with an air-bag.

Remember the back seat is always safer.

A locking clip needs to be used if you only have emergency locking seat belts. The locking clip should be applied within 2 cm of the latch to prevent any gradual loosing of the seat belt. We always say if you can get the locking clip on the seat belt while it's done up it's not tight enough.

When installing the car seat put some weight into the seat and pull the seat belt as tight as possible. While holding the tension release the seat belt latch, then apply the locking clip. To do up the latch you will again need to apply some weight to the car seat.

If you have static seat belts (i.e. a lap belt) or automatic locking seat belts the locking clip is not required. Remember also apply some weight to the seat to ensure it is tight and don't forget to activate the seat belt so it locks.

If your back vehicle car seats are sloped (i.e. bucket seats) use a tightly rolled-up towel to place in the bite of the vehicle seat this will prop up the car seat when rear facing and stop baby's head from flopping forward. If you can't get a firm fit please contact your local Baby On The Move representative for professional advice or call us on 0800 BABY ON THE MOVE.

If a car seat is fitted with a tether strap it must be used.

If borrowing a car seat or buying second hand, always have it safety checked for age, damage to the plastic, fraying of harness,cracked or rusted buckles. If no instruction booklet is provided you will be able to locate many of these on-line or contact your local Baby On The Move representative who will show you the correct installation. More information can be found in the Child Restraint Fact Sheet.

There are 3 car seat stages your child will go through. There are some seats that will overlap these stages. Always remember, every seat is different. Each will have specific weight and height restrictions, as well as an expiry date. Always be aware of these details.

Baby Capsules With or Without Bases

Baby Capsules With or Without Bases, from birth to approximately 6 months upwards / between 9kg - 15.8kg. Babies are far safer and better protected in a rear facing car seat until they are at least 1 year of age or older. You can rear face your baby longer than 1 year if your car seat instruction allows it.

Capsules are an easy way to get baby in and out of the vehicle, but again remember to check the seat fits in your vehicle before purchasing or hiring. From our experience many vehicle seat belts do not fit around capsules without bases. If the seat belt does not fit and the manufactures instructions say the seat belt must go around the head part of the capsule then you only have two options; either replace your seat belt or get another car seat.

Capsules with bases require the base to be installed firmly into the vehicle by using the car seat belt. The capsule clicks in and out of the base which makes it simple and easy to use. The bases do require a locking clip unless one is already attached to the base.

We also have ISOFIX restraints which is an international standardised mounting system for groups 0+ and I child seats. In the vehicle, appropriate Isofix anchors are permanently mounted to the body-shell. These standardised mountings enable an Isofix base to be anchored simply and quickly.

Toddler Convertible Car Seats

Toddler convertible seats can go rear facing and forward facing to a specified weight. Some of our car seats rear face to as high as 25kg and others as little as 9kg. Some babies reach 9kg as early as 6 months of age, so always bear this in mind when upgrading your car seat.

If the seat has a chest clip - use it. As a guide make sure it's level with the babies armpit. This ensures the chest clip is not too high or low on baby when fitted.

Make sure the harness fits snuggly; you should only be able to fit one finger between the harness and your baby.

Make sure your baby is not wrapped in a blanket when fitting into the car seat. The harness has to be fitted firm against baby and blankets tucked in over top.

When rear facing, the harness straps should be at shoulder height or just below.

Babies have out grown their car seat when they have either reached the recommended weight or their eyes and ears are level with the top of the car seat.

All-In-One Convertible Car Seats

Many of these seats are from birth to 45kg (approximately 8-10 years) depending on height of the child. We do not recommended these for newborns as babies can be too little for them.

There are a number of seats available for this stage which have inbuilt harnesses up to 29kg forward facing. The advantage of these restraints is that a number of these seats also turn into boosters up to 45kg. Again you need to know the weight specifications of your seat to suit your child.

The harnesses should be at shoulder height or just above.

Your child will outgrow this stage when they either exceed the specified weight or their eyes are in line with the top of the seat.

Forward Facing Car Seats

There are a number of seats available for this stage which have inbuilt harnesses up to 29kg. A number of these seats also turn into booster seats. Again you will need to know the weight specifications of your seat to suit your child. There is usually a minimum weight required before the child can use such a seat.

These are only forward facing and we recommend your child to be over 1 year of age before using these seats.

Booster Seats

From 1st November 2013 the mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by two years, with all children required to be correctly secured in an approved restraint until their seventh birthday.

The law will continue to require all children aged seven to be secured in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle. "If one is available" means if a suitable child restraint is in your vehicle then your child must use it.

An approved restraint is one that meets the approved standards so you can be sure they have been designed and tested to provide an acceptable level of safety.

Booster seats are available from 15kg + (approx 4 years +).

Booster seats must be used in conjunction with the car's 3-point safety seat belt or in combination with a separate safety child harness if instructions allow.

Your child is only safe to come out of a booster seat when you can answer Yes to all of the following questions:

  1. Does your child sit all the way back in the vehicles seat?
  2. Does your child's knees bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Does the vehicle seat belt cross over your child's shoulder (between the neck and arm)?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

When choosing a booster seat you need to make sure:

  1. The seat belt sits correctly on your child's shoulder between the arm and the neck
  2. The lap belt fits firmly over the upper thigh area
  3. Your child is comfortable
  4. The seat fits your car

NEVER use a booster with only the lap belt.

If you only have a lap belt available for your child you will need to use a child harness. The child harness needs to be tether bolted into the rear of your vehicle, and uses the lap belt to secure it over your child.

Again this needs to fit firmly, and the lap belt should never go across your child's stomach area. These harnesses go up to 26kg in conjunction with a booster seat and 32kg without a booster seat.

Before you purchase a booster seat try your child in the seat and try the seat in your car.

For NZTA Child Restraints Fact Sheet please CLICK HERE