Thursday, 31 October 2013

and the winner is...

Safercarseats is dedicated to helping parents unlock the world of car seats.  We're parents too and we know how challenging it can be to negotiate the rules, recommendations and the ins&outs of car seat safety.

To celebrate the introduction of the new restraint laws in NZ we're pleased to offer our very first giveaway....

we're very pleased to announce the winner of the phil&teds cocoon travelfix booster.


thanks everyone for getting on board to help share and spread the word about car seat safety . The new law coming into effect on November the 1st means that you will legally be required to keep your child in an appropriate restraint until their 7th birthday.  but dont forget  the bigger picture is that research both locally and internationally shows that children are much safer in a restraint until they are 148cm.

So how do you know if your child still needs to use a booster? Here's 5-step booster seat test

Your child does not require a booster seat if you can answer YES to ALL of the following questions:

  1. Do they sit all the way back in the vehicle seat?
  2. Do their knees bend at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Does the adult safety belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can they stay seated like this for the whole trip?

Friday, 25 October 2013

WHY do car seats expire...?

There are probably a few people out there with seats that they thought would last them until their child no longer needed one - but with the new law change effective on 1st November 2013 (which will see the age children need to be legally restrained raised to 7) there's going to  be some parents out there who thought they were travelling legal until 5 - that may not see the the lifespan of their seat lasting through until their child's 7th birthday .

Why do seats expire? That's a question I hear a lot - many people don't understand why a restriction is put on a car seats use - especially when you can spend hundreds of dollars on some models. In fact some of the most expensive seats on the market can actually have the shortest lifespan.

So why do car seats expire?

There are in fact many important reasons why you must retire your trusted seat after the specified time, no matter how clean, well looked after it is, how expensive it was or even how much you've used it.  You also can't discount time of seat in storage and 'extend' it's lifespan.

1. Safety standards and regulations change over time as technology is developed - expiration dates create essential guidelines to ensure our children are kept the safest they can be. So no using a dodgy car seat design from the 80's, when far superior technology exists.

2. Not only does the technology of restraints evolve but so does vehicles' ability to secure seats properly and consistently.

3. The materials used in restraints will become affected over time by use, weather (temperature can be even more extreme in cars that outdoors) as well as wear & tear . Plastics can stress and warp, harness straps and tether straps and fabrics can fray and rip. Installation labels can fade and/or disappear completely and instructional manuals can get lost.  

4. Manufacturing landscapes also change. The manufacturer may no longer stock replacement manuals and parts.

imagine if carseats had no expiry date. we might see more of this.... 

WHERE do i find out the expiry date?

Every car seat is different. Some restraints will tell you in the instructions where to find out the seat’s expiration date, some won't.  Some expiration dates are clearly listed, some only give manufacture dates.  Dates are found usually molded into the shell of the seat or by stickers - some are super easy to find, others require a bit more muscle, and dissecting of the seat to find.

Most car seats have a lifespan of five to ten years after they were manufactured (not after they were purchased) - you'll need to check in with your manufacturer or retailer for details on specific models.  

So given that the goal posts have moved for many of you out there - I'd suggest you check your seat now to find out if it is going to take you and your family to AT LEAST age seven.  It may be a case that many of you are going to have to consider investing in another seat. I'd say, go on and do it - and while you're thinking about this next seat, remember the law may be to restrain your little one till their seventh birthday - but the safest way to travel is in a booster well beyond 7 - until you're child is 148cm or has outgrown the recommendations of the seat.  

Thursday, 17 October 2013

7 or 148cm?

7 OR 147? This is quite a common question at the moment on many peoples lips...not sure what I'm talking about?  Read on!

As you've most likely heard on November 1st the new law for restraints in NZ comes into place.  This means that you will legally be required to keep your child in an appropriate restraint until their 7th birthday. However the big question coming from many is  "is this enough"? 

Personally, I would have loved to see the law extended, but i'm also thankful for this small change that has brought some positive awareness to car seat safety - and although it's just a small step, I think we can safely say that even small steps save lives. It's important to note also that it's very clear to me that some groups and individuals have worked pretty hard over the years to pass this law - so hats off to them and thank you!!

But still the bigger picture is that research both locally and internationally shows that children are much safer in a restraint until they are 148cm-  and by NZ statistics this is 90% of kiwi kids aged between 6-8. 50% of all 9-10 year olds and 10% off all 11-12 year olds ( - see image below).  'WOWSA' I hear you say - but as Sue Campbell from Plunket was quoted as saying “The simple truth is that car seats and boosters seats save lives." 

So how do you know if your child still needs to use a booster? Here's 5-step booster seat test

Your child does not require a booster seat if you can answer YES to ALL of the following questions:

  1. Do they sit all the way back in the vehicle seat?
  2. Do their knees bend at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Does the adult safety belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can they stay seated like this for the whole trip? 
MOST IMPORTANTLY - if your child still fits your restraint - then why wouldn't you use it? Jokes along the lines of 'Doesn't that mean I should be in a seat?' and 'Well I never had a seat and I'm fine', just really ain't that funny when the safety of children are involved! A short 30 year old doesn't require a  restraint simply because they are under 148cm as they have the skeleton of a 30 year old, not the skeleton of a prepubescent child.  So lets all celebrate and continue to spread the word about restraining till 7 - lets just not forget the bigger picture, that the longer you use the restraint, the safer your child is, because “The simple truth is that car seats and boosters seats save lives." 



Tuesday, 1 October 2013

travel systems...

Mobility has come a long way in recent years with the introduction of travel systems.  These are a popular way of adapting your car seat capsule to your buggy up to the first 6-9 months.
This eliminates having to remove your sleeping baby from the comfort of their capsule to do those quick jobs while out and about.  You simply click your capsule into the travel system which sits on top of your buggy.  This is a very quick and convenient system and also saves your back!

With every quick easy solution there can be some draw backs – the use of a travel system can mean that parents leave their babies in capsules for much longer than is recommended (45 mins - hour max).  The reason for this limitation is that while in the capsule the air flow isn’t at it’s optimum and also babies posture is in an un-natural position due to the curvature of the capsule causing the head to tilt forward and impeding on the neck/airway.  It’s all too easy to be wandering around the mall while getting in some much needed uninterrupted shopping time while baby blissfully sleeps, I have seen this on many occassion.

The main thing to remember is that travel systems are a short term solution – in and out of the car with as less fuss as possible – it is strongly advised that you should not connect this as a permanent way of transporting your baby while out on walks or shopping trips that take a bit longer than an hour.

Travel systems are fast becoming a very popular option to help ease the stresses of day to day parenting. And with it comes a mine field of confusion!  Which travel system to which capsule to which buggy!  Luckily a few very well known brands manufacture their own systems – not only for their own capsules, but for many big brands out there.  This offers a range of choice and versatility and the options are endless!

In choosing a travel system – this generally should be left till last as you need to know which capsule you will be getting before knowing what will connect it to your chosen buggy.  And of course, the capsule should be one that suits your vehicle and baby.
Types of travel systems have changed dramatically over the years – from big bulky bracket style contraptions, to simple separate light weight units that connect individually. These separate units make it easy to transport the travel system and can even fit easily in a nappy bag!

So choose wisely when you are making your buggy – capsule – travel system choice.  Avoid purchasing products on line (in particular capsules) before you have had a chance to have a play with the products in store to ensure they are right for you and your family.

hana - safercarseats installer.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Changes to NZ carseat laws are coming... are you ready?

For many it's been a long time coming - and for others it will take them completely by surprise to hear that from 1 November 2013 the mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by two years, with all children required to be correctly secured in an approved restraint until their seventh birthday.   

Under current law children aged 5-7 years old are not legally required to use a car seat or booster seat, but must use one “where a seat is available”(NZTA, 2013).There will still be many parents out there that don't understand why there is a need to extend the minimum age of car seats - as they 'never had a seat and they were just fine' but the facts are simple - car seats save lives and protect against serious injury -vehicle seats are not designed with children in mind and seat belts are designed  to protect an average sized adult.   This law change for NZ simply starts bringing us in line with other countries that have superior laws around safety and child.

So in anticipation of the November law change - what can you do to ensure you are ready? Well if your 5-7 year old is currently in a booster seat that is appropriately fitted then  you can 'keep calm & carry on'. If your 5-7 year old is currently NOT in a restraint, then you'll need to ensure you find a restraint for your child - and don't wait till November 1 - do it now, because your child is so much safer in a restraint than not.  If your child is younger and you are purchasing a seat - you'll now need to consider the life span of the seat being of compulsory use to at least age 7.

AND... to everyone out there - no matter how old your child is and what you are currently doing...make sure you use the right seat, for your child and your vehicle, and that most importantly, make sure it is installed correctly.  for help and advise on this, check in with a certified installer.  And finally - just because we are now fortunate enough to have the law stating compulsory use to age 7 - doesn't mean you should remove your child on their 7th birthday - use the restraint up to it's weight limit or the size limitations. 

For more information on car seat laws, tips, and advise on how to navigate the world of restraints - go to or check out our information stations at babycity nationally.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

So many can get confusing!

I remember looking for a capsule nearly 13 years ago when my daughter was born.It was pretty basic back then, a simple no frills capsule in your choice of blue tartan, teddy bears, or something that looked a little like hideous bus seat fabric. 

These days there seems to be an enormous amount of choice on the market - not just in colour or fabric but all the technical choices you get to make. Although I think in this case, choice is a wonderful thing, it does mean it can be a crazy & confusing world, thinking about your very first car seat purchase. There are so many factors to consider and often it really feels like you need to learn another language in order to understand exactly what it is that you and your child needs. Once you've learnt the language, you then get spoilt for choice and have to then deduce what type of seat you want. 

There are now 3 common type of installation options available on the NZ market.  

1. The straight seat belt secure method
2. Base+capsule using the vehicles seat belt 
3. Base+capsule using isofix or 'latch'(US term). 

       phil&teds quest capsule              Milano capsule                  Mountain Buggy peppy

Base capsules have been growing in popularity over the last 10 years - they offer ease of daily installation and also offer consistency of installation - isofix has been growing in popularity in NZ as we see more vehicles being imported that have isofix fixtures.  

Having worked in retail and also having installed my fair share of seats - I've been asked on many occasions: 

Which seat is the safest?
Which standard is the best?
Which brand is the best? 
Which seat is the best?

With so many types of installation available my answer is always that what may be 'best' for one person may not necessarily the 'best' for someone else - and I suppose this is why we are so lucky to have so much choice these days. Parents find some seats can be harder than others to install - it's not always related to just the capsule as we find many different qualities in vehicle seats that contribute to and can complicate installation. Things like length of seat belt, slope of seat, vehicle upholstery, size of vehicle. Installing capsules using a base will often remove some of these variables.

Finding a seat that suits you and your lifestyle is important - but finding a seat that suits your child and your vehicle and making sure it's installed correctly are the key factors - ensuring you can install it correctly one hundred percent of the time is the key to having the 'best and safest seat you can.

  For more information on car seat jargon, types of seats and other advise to help you unlock       the world of car seats check out our website


Friday, 16 August 2013

Car seat trends around the world

The world of car seats is a complex one, filled with standards specific to different countries and with a wide array of options. If you’re looking for a car seat, no doubt you’ve discovered this while doing your research. At the heart of this world is ‘safety’. Here’s a snapshot of car seat trends and standards around the world.

The hot topic in car seat safety is the rear vs forward facing debate. In Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) it’s the norm to have your child rear facing up to 4 years old. Whereas in the rest of Europe, US, NZ and Australia, it has long been the norm to rear face until the child has turned one, with turning the car seat around being considered a right of passage on a child’s first birthday. In the last five years we have started to see a change to this and recommendations are to wait until a child is two years before forward facing them. In New Zealand and the UK, it is recommended to wait until a child is between 1 and 2 years old to start forward facing.  

This debate considers traditional car seats which are not the only option. Europe also uses the shield system which acts as a guardian to lock the child into place in the seat. While this is a relatively new concept for New Zealand parents, this innovative and forward thinking concept has a solid and proven record of crash test results. It is considered to be safer than a 5-point harness in the event of an accident. On impact, it absorbs the force of a collision over a larger area of the child’s body and significantly reduces the extreme neck bending if the body was harnessed and held from the shoulders. This is widely considered to be a great alternative to  extended rear facing and has exceptional safety reviews and feedback from parents.

Another emerging trend is ISOFIX (known as LATCH in the US), an increasingly popular system in New Zealand for car seat installation. This system allows car seats to be fixed into sockets on a car's chassis, enabling a quick installation and greatly reduces the likelihood that a car seat is installed incorrectly.  

That brings us to the tether strap. In Australia all car seats must have tether straps and all vehicles manufactured in Australia are required to have a tether fixing point. In New Zealand, if your car seat has a tether strap it must be used to ensure it is installed securely.

Car seat standards differ around the world. In New Zealand we recognise four standards - the Australian, European and American standards, as well as Japanese inbuilt seats. All car seats on sale in retail stores in New Zealand must be certified to one of these standards. It is important to use a trained or certified installer to ensure that a car seat is the right fit for your car and is installed correctly.

For more information on car seat safety, visit - Helping Parents Unlock the World of Car Seats!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Keep Calm and Read the Instructions

I remember the first time I got my car seat. It was a gift from mum around a month after I told her that I was going to have a baby. She was so excited that she pretty much bought everything that we needed which made our job a little easier. We stored the car seat at my parents house until we were ready to move into our new place. 

So months later around the time my partner Emma was due to give birth, we realised that we should start to get ready and so we tested the car seat in the car. At this point we didn't give any thought to the fact  that there might be instructions to how to install it correctly. So we played around with it for a little bit until we were confident enough we had it right. The next time we thought about it was after my little Sienna was born. The nurse checked that she was in the car seat all right but never came down to the car with us to see if the car seat was installed properly into our car.

We and then put her in  fitted it ourselves, felt pretty good about it and snapped a few photo's of Sienna's first car ride. We thought it was pretty secure so drove home no dramas. A few weeks later we went for a bit of a road trip and within the first 30 minutes of driving, I went around a sharp corner and the car seat slid a bit. It wasn't enough to cause any harm but enough to give us a fright. Straight away we pulled over, checked on Sienna and then I goggled how to do it on my phone - i can't think now why i never thought to read the instructions before hand - don't judge me - i think there was so much going on and it's so much to take in.

Since then i'm amazed to learn how common this problem was. Something like 80% off parents in NZ are incorrectly installing the car seats. I've since spent some quality time reading the instructions that showed me I was doing the seatbelt incorrectly through the car seat, and not adjusting the handle accordingly -which is pretty scary.

I've also spent quite a bit of time going through the safercarseats website and facebook page  as we're now thinking about the next carseat for our little girl . I'd highly recommend that all parents check with experts to see that you are doing it right. The safety of your child should be enough to justify the effort spent researching it. 

You'll be hearing from me soon as i make a decision on whats the next step for us - any tips? 


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Out and about with

Out and about with

The world of car seats and car seat safety can be confusing and complicated. In the past 5 years we've seen a change of focus around car seat safety - which is great. As a full time working mum of two little girls aged 7 and 4, I’m extremely passionate about all things child restraint, and of course safety is paramount!

It seems the whole topic of child restraints is hot these days and people are eager to find out what the next best thing is for their child. We know children come in all different shapes and sizes and so do the vehicles they roll in, so every situation is unique to each family. For the past 7 years I've worked in the nursery industry, educating parents and caregivers on the best and safest choices for their little ones. I've seen some pretty crazy installations in my time, and this led me to become a certified car seat restraint technician. As a community initiative I recently had the very interesting, informative, and also frightening experience of attending a Police road-side child restraint check point, and I have to say the majority of what I saw out there did indeed scare me. Alarmingly however, it was not too dissimilar to what I see out on the roads on a daily basis. I think that most of this stems from a lack of education surrounding proper child restraint use and also the resources in providing this education.  Herein lies’s vision - helping parents navigate the minefield of information on car seat safety. safercarseats is focused on giving parents practical advice on car seats, as well as the tools and confidence to choose the best car seats for their family. Throughout the site, we have provided sources and links to reputable sites for further information. Our mission is to help you along the road to safer car seats!

We NEED to get our word out there and share our knowledge to assist families, organisations and retailers through education surrounding the good, bad and cold hard facts of child restraints.

A couple of weekends ago I had the proud honor of representing safercarseats at the Bumps, Bubs and Beyond Expo in New Plymouth, supporting Baby City who were the major sponsor of this event.  As our stand was predominantly child restraint related, I was the key representative raising awareness of child restraint safety and education. This was a little daunting for me I have to admit, as I had no idea what to expect!  

So after arriving early Saturday morning, I helped set up the stand and waited for the masses to roll in! You see it can be a very overwhelming environment, and often people leave just as bewildered as they arrived!  But the intention was to eliminate confusion and to shed some basic and easy to follow light on the whole subject.  

We had expectant parents wanting to know the best place to start – capsule or convertible? Babies who were growing out of their capsules and were ready for the next seat up. Children who were growing out of their convertibles and were ready for a booster. We had families who required an extra seat for a 2nd car or for Grandma's car, we had others who needed additional seats to pass on to the next child – and much, much more… PHEW!  So you see, the list of possible scenarios is endless; and as our families, cars and lives grow, so too does the need for further education around child restraints.

Our set up consists of a Giraffe height chart and scales, an installation seat (for fitting car seats) and a tell-all educational stand with quick tip rip-off leaflets. These are really fantastic tools to help make the all important decisions and learn a little more about child restraint laws, forward vs rear facing, seat types and fitting tips to name a few! You can find these set up nationwide in Baby City retail stores.  

So stay tuned for more exciting news of the wonderful world of and help us share our safety message!