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Car seats - are you doing it right?

The information in this blog is provided by the NZ Transport Agency and supported by Baby on the Move.

The best car seat is the one that fits your car, the one that fits your purpose and one you know how to use. You can have the best car seat in the world but if it's not installed correctly or not used right it won't be any good when it is needed.

Stage 1 - Rear-facing infant restraint


  • Always carefully follow the manufacturers instructions when fitting into your car.

  • Rear-facing infant restraints should never be placed in the front seat if there is an active front airbag.

  • Check your child's restraint fits firmly against the seat and cannot wobble; if your restraint does not fit firmly, seek advice from a registered child restraint technician, like Chris from Baby on the Move.

Securing child

  • If there is a chest clip, make sure the clip sits at the baby’s armpit level.

  • The harness must fit snugly against your baby and go over the baby’s shoulders.

  • Blankets must be put over the baby only after the baby is firmly secured into the harness.

  • Babies are better protected travelling in a rear-facing restraint until they are at least two years old.

Stage 2 - Forward-facing child restraint


  • The back seat is the safest place for the child restraint.

  • Check your child’s restraint fits firmly against the seat and cannot wobble; if your restraint does not fit firmly, seek advice from a registered Child Restraint Technician.

  • If your child restraint comes with a tether strap, it must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • If your vehicle doesn’t have an anchor point for the tether strap to be attached to, have one fitted into your car by a qualified mechanic.

Securing child

  • The harness must fit snugly and comfortably against your child.

  • The shoulder harness must always go over the shoulders and be moved up as your child grows.

  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct harness shoulder height.

  • If there is a chest clip, make sure it is sitting at the level of your child’s armpits.

  • Children have outgrown their restraint when they are over the manufacturer’s recommended weight or height restrictions for that model of forward facing child restraint.

Stage 3 - Booster Seat


  • Never, ever use a booster seat with a lap safety belt only.

  • The back seat is the safest place for your child’s booster seat.

  • If you have a booster seat that has a builtin harness system, use the harness until the child reaches the height or weight limit advised in the manufacturer’s instructions, and then use the vehicle’s safety belt.

  • If your booster seat has a safety belt guide, make sure it is used on every trip.

  • Make sure the safety belt goes over the child’s shoulder and is not resting against the child’s neck.

  • A full booster seat with an adjustable head rest will provide better protection for your child than a booster cushion.

How do you know when your child is ready to progress from a booster seat to the adult safety belt? Try this simple test. (If the answer is NO to any of these points, then your child needs to use a booster seat to keep them safe.)

If you are looking at car seats and wondering whether you should by or hire, call in and see the guys at Baby on the Move for that personal touch. They will talk you though the range of seats from capsules to convertible to booster and everything between. So when you not sure, make sure you take the time to check to see what is best for you. Remember cars are different so not every car seat will fit every car so that is why we always recommend to try before you buy.


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