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Becoming a Parent

Safe seats save lives

Claire Turner

Director of Baby On The Move

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when travelling in a vehicle. Keeping your child safe depends on choosing the right car seat and using it correctly every time. The best car seat is the one that fits your child’s weight, height and age, and is properly fitted into your vehicle.

Car seats can be a confusing business – once you’ve finally worked out which seat is suitable, you have to install it correctly! All child car seats in New Zealand must be certified to one of three standards and be suitable for the age, weight, height and physical development of each child.

The three standards are:

  • Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754: This can be identified by the Australian ‘tick’ mark.
  • United States Standard FMVSS 213: Restraints that comply with this standard must show the number FMVSS 213. They carry the ‘S‘ mark to show they have been certified for use in New Zealand.
  • European Standard ECE 44: This is labelled with a circle containing an ‘E’ (the number in the circle varies depending on the European country where the seat was manufactured).

All car seats sold or hired should meet one of these approved standards. However, some brands significantly exceed the minimum safety requirements of these standards and provide better protection. One of the best brands available is Graco, which we stock exclusively in New Zealand. These car seats not only meet the US FMVSS 213 standard but also have been ProtectPlus engineered.

Graco ProtectPlus engineering is a combination of the most rigorous crash tests assessing performance in frontal, side, rear and rollover crashes, and additional testing based on the New Car Assessment Programme (peak crash force testing approximately x2 car seat standard), and also tested for extreme car interior temperatures.

Top tips for choosing baby’s first car seat

Check the manual
Before selecting a car seat, check your vehicle’s manual. Car seats can be installed using either the vehicle seat belt or the LATCH/Isofix system, where an anchor bar or bracket is located between the seat cushions in the back seat. Your vehicle may also be equipped with anchor bolts, which may be required by certain types of car seat.

Baby’s very first seat
For newborns, there are two kinds of car seat: a rear-facing infant car seat with base, and a rear-facing, convertible car seat. An infant car seat (capsule) is small and has a carry handle. It usually comes with a detachable base that remains secured in the car.

The capsule clicks into and out of the base quickly and easily. Convertible seats are bulkier than capsules, do not come with carrying handles or bases, and are designed to stay in the car. They ‘convert’ from rear facing to forward facing later on.

We recommend that you hire an infant car seat (capsule), as your child will only use it for a short period of time. This saves you money and reduces the number of expired car seats going to landfill, which is better for our environment. When your child outgrows their infant seat, you can purchase a convertible car seat that will grow with your child.

Use and install your car seat correctly

Installing a car seat can be a complicated job. Read your manual and follow the directions exactly. For newborns, the seat should always be solidly installed, rear facing, at a 45-degree angle and have less than 2.5cm of side-to-side movement at the belt path (where the seatbelt goes through). If it has a top tether, use it as per instructions (some seats MUST be tethered at all times).

Our child restraint technicians are trained specifically to install varying types of car seat, taking the stress away and teaching you how to use your car seat correctly.

Rear facing for first two years

We recommend that you rear face your child at least to the age of two, or as long as possible. Young babies’ necks and spines are especially at risk since their heads make up approximately 25% of their body weight. Rear-facing seats support babies’ heads, necks and spines and babies are up to five times better protected in a crash when rear facing than they are when forward facing.

NEVER use a seat that has expired or is damaged, and remember, children are safest in the back seat.

Car seat safety is a priority at Baby On The Move, which has more than 20 years’ experience in hiring and selling car seats. We’re passionate about car seat safety, and believe that the more informed people are about car seats, the safer our children will be. With child restraint technicians in all our stores, we can explain to parents, caregivers and grandparents which car seats best suit children’s needs.

Please visit www.babyonthemove.co.nz or call 0800 222 966 for your nearest store.

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