Supporting whānau to keep pēpi safe when traveling in a vehicle by using a car seat appropriate for their age and size.

Every baby that travels in a vehicle needs a car seat appropriate for their age and size. Car restraints for young babies are often called baby capsules.

Supporting whānau to keep baby safe

Aotearoa New Zealand has strict laws about keeping babies safe in vehicles. Our responsibility as helpers is to know what those laws are, so we can support whānau with the correct information.

Ask whānau:

  • What type of car seat does pēpi have?
  • Do you find it easy to use?
  • Is it easy to put in the car?
  • Is it easy to click baby in safely?

Requirements for using child restraints in New Zealand | Waka Kotahi(external link)

Approved car restraints

All approved child restraints have standard markings to show they’re approved in Aotearoa New Zealand and have been lab tested under crash conditions.

The car seat may have a tick mark, which means it meets the New Zealand/Australian code, or the approved ‘S’ mark showing it’s certified here in Aotearoa.

  • Where did you get your baby’s car seat?
  • Do you need any help with making sure that it’s fitted correctly?
  • Shall we check if it has the safety markings on it?

How and where to get a car seat

Car seats can be expensive to buy. They can be rented instead (for short- or long-term hire), so find out who in your community offers a rental system.

Some providers will also have a rent-to-buy option. Well Child Tamariki Ora providers are a good place to start.

Travelling in other people’s vehicles

  • What do you do when you and pēpi go out with mates or family members in a different car than normal?
  • Do you think they all know it’s the driver’s legal responsibility to make sure pēpi is safe and secure?

Don’t leave baby to sleep in their car seat

It can be tempting for parents to leave their young baby to sleep in the car seat, especially if they’re going out in the car again later. However, studies show it’s unsafe.

  • Do you know why it’s not safe to leave a young baby in a car seat for too long?

When a car seat is taken out of the car and put on the ground, it can tip into a more upright position, causing baby’s head to fall forward and restrict their breathing. Being left in that position for too long is dangerous.

Things to know about car seat safety

What other things are important for new parents to know about car seat safety?

Here are some answers to discuss with them:

  • Always put baby’s car seat rear-facing in the back seat (baby will be looking toward the back window).
  • When front seat airbags inflate, they can seriously injure a baby — that’s why the back seat is safest.
  • Use a car seat every time a baby is in a vehicle. Every journey on the road is a risk.

Helpful resources for whānau