What is the best car seat for my child?
The best car seat is one that fits your child, fits your car(s) and is easy to install and to use. Here are some useful tips and recommendations to help you decide.
Weight is more important than age
Child car seats are divided into groups, based on the weight of the child. Please remember that not only the age, but above all the weight of your child is important.
Baby Group 0+ birth to 13 kg | up to 12 months
Toddler Group 1 9 to 18 kg | 9 months to 3½ years
Child Group 2/3 15 to 36 kg | 3½ years to 12 years
The Car Safety Expert says: “It is not just the age of your child that you have to consider when choosing a child car seat. You also have to consider their weight and height and which seat provides the most secure fit in your car; whether your baby or child will be taking long or short journeys and if you will need to transfer your child car seat from one car to another, as well as what’ is most convenient for you as a parent. My top tip would be opt for a seat that fits onto a base. Once it’ is in securely, you are guaranteed peace of mind your little one is safe, and the seat simply clicks in and out with ease which is perfect for busy parents."
When is it time to switch to the next stage car seat?
Rear-facing up to 12 months
Wait as long as possible to switch from a baby to a toddler car seat. Babies up to the age of 12 months are best protected travelling in a rear-facing direction. This way, the energy of the impact is absorbed and distributed by the seat shell and car seat belts.
Switch from baby to toddler seat
Your baby has outgrown his baby car seat when the top of his ears extend past the top of the seat back. Do not switch to the next stage car seat until this time. Make sure your baby’s head is generously protected by the top of the seat.
Please note - it is not a problem if your child’s legs extend beyond the edge of the seat.
Switch from toddler to child seat
From a toddler seat, step up to a group 2/3 child seat if your child’s shoulders are 2 cm above the highest openings for the shoulder straps in the toddler seat, when the headrest is set in its highest position. Make sure the headrest of the child car seat is set at the lowest position when switching over.
No more car seats
You no longer legally require a child car seat if your child is 1.35 or 1.50 metres tall (approx. 12 years of age). Children no longer using car seats must use the regular car seat belts at all times.
The law in New Zealand requires children under 5 years of age to be restrained in a child car seat for every ride.
The car seat must be an approved car seat that is the right size for the height and weight of the child, the vehicle safety belt on its own is not enough. Never put your baby’s car seat in the front if there is an airbag.
For Children under 5 years old:
Safety Standards - when you buy a car seat in NZ, it must meet one of these 3 safety standards;
All child restraints sold here must meet 1 of the 3 standards listed below.
1.Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS1754: This can be identified by the Australian "tick" mark.
2.European standard ECE R44.04: This is labelled with a circle containing an "E".
The European Safety Standards are also very commonly found in New Zealand. They can be recognised by the yellow safety sticker pictured on the left. The sticker can usually be found on the back of the carseat in a protected area to avoid the sticker rubbing off. There is an older version (pre 2005) of the European Standard called ECE R44.03. This was replaced by ECE R44/04 in 2005 and carseat manufactures had until June 2006 to comply with the changes. There should me very little of these seats left but something that you should be aware of.
3. US standard FMVSS213: Restraints that comply with this standard must show the number FMVSS213. They carry the "S" mark to show they have been certified for use in New Zealand.
Buyer Check List - What Features To Look For In A Car Seat:
A car restraint should come with a the tether strap which must be used for all rear- and forward-facing seats that comply with the Australian/New Zealand standard – otherwise their safety performance will be compromised. Many forward-facing US restraints also use a tether strap, and the latest Isofix standard includes a tether strap. A tether strap does not necessarily make a car seat safer than a seat designed without a tether, but if the seat has one it must be used. Not using the tether strap will risk serious injury to the child, or worse.
A car seat with well padded side wings will help to protect your child in a crash that involves side impact. It is estimated that 1 in every 4 crashes involves a side impact. Side wings are often height-adjustable so they can “grow” with the child.4. Is the Lining easy to remove and wash?
Make sure the lining of the car seat can be easily removed for washing.
Top Tip - to protect the fabric on the back seats in your car, cut out a square of foam mat or use a towel under the car seat - this will catch food crumbs and will make for easy cleaning of your back seat.
Over time, the plastic components can become brittle and the webbing fabric can deteriorate from friction or from exposure to the sun. A restraint that will survive a severe impact in its first few years after manufacture may fail in an accident 10 years later.
If buying a new child restraint is beyond your budget, enquire about our Layby Service.
How to Check to see if your car has Isofix:Feel down inbetween the back seats of your car and feel for a U shaped metal bolt. This is where you clip the Isofix attatchment onto.