The next lot of school holidays are just around the corner, which means kiwis across the country will be packing their bags and gearing up for family road trips. For anyone with young kids, it also means buckling up for the long road ahead is more important than ever, a notion which, when it comes to car seats, is sometimes easier said than done.

Luckily, we’ve got some expert car seat installers on board and so have put together a helpful guide to safely and securely install your car seat before you hit the road.

Check your seat is up to the job

In New Zealand, it’s law that all children under seven must be secured in an approved child restraint that’s suitable for their age and size. Babies should be in a rear-facing seat, older toddlers in a forward-facing seat and older children in a booster. Your seat manufacturer’s guide should come with recommended weight and height restrictions to help you know when your child has outgrown each seat and is ready for the next.

Fitting a rear-facing baby seat

  • Always read and follow your seat manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always remember to install the seat so your baby is facing the rear of the car so they can see out the back window. We get it sounds simple, but when you’re busy or tired even the simplest things can be tricky, so it pays to double check.
  • Rear-facing restraints should never be installed in the front seat. Back seats are best, especially if you have an air-bag. Air-bags can seriously hurt your baby, so it’s not worth the risk.
  • Once in, test your seat cannot wobble around and check it’s sitting firmly against the seat.

Fitting a forward-facing car seat

  • Again, always read and follow your seat’s instruction manual.
  • Forward-facing car seats are best in the back. If all back seats are occupied and you have to use the front seat, move the vehicle seat as far back as possible.
  • If your car seat comes with a tether strap, use it. It helps keep your child secure.
  • If you have a tether strap, but nothing on the seat to attach it to, contact a trusted and qualified mechanic who can fit an anchor for you.
  • Once you’ve installed your seat, check it. Test your seat cannot wobble and ensure it’s sitting firmly against the seat.

Fitting a booster seat

  • We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – like all other car seats, please read and follow your seat’s instruction manual first.
  • Always use a booster seat in the back of the car. The back seat is the safest place for your child.
  • Always use with an adult lap and sash safety belt. A lap only belt is not safe enough and should never, ever be used with a booster seat.
  • If your booster seat has a built-in harness, lucky you! Use it as it will provide whole body protection.
  • The belt should always go over your child’s shoulder and not rest against their neck. If your seat has a safety belt guide this will help.

Want more help?

If you’re still having trouble installing your seat or you can’t quite get it to fit firmly, it’s ok to ask for help. Get in touch with a registered Child Restraint Technicians. You can find one here.