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November 01, 2021 5 min read

New Zealand Car Seat Laws and FAQ's

What is the car seat law in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, all drivers must ensure that passengers under the age of 7 (while vehicle is in motion on the road) are properly restrained in an approved child restraint appropriate for that passenger. This law extends to a child's 8th where there is a suitable car seat present in the car.

So children under 7 must be in a car seat, and children aged 7-8 need to be in a car seat if there is one available in the car.

All child restraints (car seats) sold in New Zealand must meet an approved standard. We have a unique situation in NZ, as our law allows car seats from different parts of the world to be used. The car seats must meet one of the following standards:

  • New Zealand/Australian standard
  • European standard
  • USA standard (must also display a yellow 'S' marking, issued by Bureau Veritas to show that the product has been approved for use in New Zealand).

What car seat should I get?

This depends on your child's weight, height, age, physical development, behaviour and also the type of vehicle you own.

The main types of child restraints are:

1. Infant capsules-

  • Rear-facing
  • Usually have a weight limit of 0-13kg
  • Can easily be taken in and out of the car with baby inside
  • Designed specifically for new born and young infants
2. Convertible restraints –
  • Rear and forward-facing
  • Usually have a weight limit of 0-18kg

Take a look at our other posts if you're interested in learning about our top selling convertible car seats: Which car seats are best for a 1 year old?


3. Forward facing child restraint and booster –

  • Usually have a weight limit of 9-36kg
  • Can be used from a younger age than a regular booster and lasts until they are ready to come out of a restraint

Here's a link to our blog post titled Which are good car seats for 3 year olds? if you're interested in reading more about our forward facing restraint range.


4. Booster seat –

  • Usually have a weight limit of 15-36kg
  • Legally your child needs to be in an approved child restraint from birth up until the age of 7. However we highly recommend keeping your child in a child restraint until they are over 148cm tall.

How long should I rear-face my child for?

It is recommended to rear face your child in a rear-facing child restraint up until at least 2 years of age but definitely no less than 1 year.
If your child is secured in a rear-facing restraint during a crash, the forces acting on the restraint and child will push the child back into the restraint shell so that his head, back and neck are cradled. Rear-facing causes much less strain on the child and lessens the chance of spinal damage, compared to forward-facing with a five-point harness.

 

Where is the safest place in the car for my child to sit (in a car seat)?

The best place to install a child restraint is in the back seat of your vehicle. Always check your vehicle manual and your child restraint manual to ensure proper installation, some vehicles do not allow for a child restraint to be fitted in to the middle rear seat.
Never position a rear-facing child restraint in the front seat of a vehicle unless there is no other option. If this is the case then your front passenger seat air bags need to be switched off and the vehicle seat should be pushed back as far as possible.
It is also advised that you only install a forward-facing child restraint in the front passenger seat as a last resort.
The front passenger seat will also need to be pushed back as far as possible and the front air bags switched off.

Are half boosters safe?

We don't recommend using a half booster as it does not offer support for your child to properly fit the vehicle's safety belt and offers no head and body protection in a collision. We do not sell half boosters here atGlobal Baby.

In some situations however, a half booster may be the only option, and in those cases a half booster is better than nothing. A half booster will still lift the child up and help to position the lap belt across the child's legs instead of their tummy.

 

How can I tell if my child has outgrown their car seat?

Rear-facing child restraint-
Top of child's head should be 2cm below the top of the child restraint

Forward-facing child restraint-
Child's eyes should be in line with the top of the child restraint

Are second hand car seats OK?

Our European suppliers don't recommend buying second-hand safety items, such as child restraints, as there is no way to tell if it has been involved in a crash or has been previously damaged. These factors can seriously affect the performance of your child restraint and its safety.

Is my child ready to come out of a booster?

If your child meets this 5-step test then they are ready to come out of their booster:

  • Do they sit all the way back against the car seat?
  • Do their knees bend comfortably at the edge of the car seat?
  • Does the safety belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  • Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  • Can they stay seated like this for the whole trip?

Most children will be at least four or five years old before they can do all of the above.

Why do some capsules not require a tether strap?

Some capsules do not require the use of a tether strap as they are installed with an ISOFIX base which has a support leg that connects with the floor of the vehicle. This creates stability and lessens movement of the capsule in a crash situation in the same way a tether strap does.

Can I fit 3 car seats across the back seat of my car?

It is possible to do this, depending on your vehicle type and the size of your car seats. Although it isn't always easy. Come and see us in store and we will be happy to test out some car seats in your car with you.

What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX car seats have two arms on the back of the seat that hook on to two small metal bars in your vehicle (they are located in the slot where the seat's back the seat). When pushing the car seat backwards on to these anchor points, the car seat then locks on to the chassis of the vehicle. You can read more in our blog post about ISOFIX here.



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