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Cracking the Car Seat Code: Tips on Choosing the Right one for YOU! 🥳

Cracking the Car Seat Code: Tips on Choosing the Right one for YOU! 🥳

Before my due date with Elijah, while I should’ve been focussing on important decisions like what car seat I needed to buy so he can leave the hospital safely; I was busy obsessing about giving birth
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With what I thought were important decisions back then; like scented candles surrounding me & if I was going to have whales or dolphins serenade Elijah & I as he entered this world! 😅🫢🤭

Luckily, I was gifted a car seat at my own baby shower & I've since learnt that the item I was kindly given is actually one of the most important products a parent needs to buy before bub arrives, & then ongoing for the next 12 years or so (in NZ at least!)

I know many won't be as fortunate as me, so let's get down to business when it comes to purchasing your first OR next car seat for your bub – what should you look for amongst the tidal wave of scary information & what about safety, durability & value for money (car seats can be blimin expensive!)

& working in the nursery industry, I know that buying a car seat can be a stressful purchase we make as a parent - I get that! There is SO much information that we must sift through & research - & the technical & scary language used – yikes, it's next level at times! Plus, the fact that our kiddo's having to be in one from newborn up to tween years - WTF! 😲 But don't worry though, I can relate - I've been through all the stages of grief with car seats; the dilemmas of a clueless novice to now being a Certified Car Restraint Technician (CCRT) - I've got you!

As parent & a CCRT I know that the number one concern is safety – rightfully so. A car seat is going to be one of your first purchases you make as an expectant parent, so research is key & while the internet has made us more informed, sadly knowledge is not always power, especially if no one understands it.

What's really confusing is that all car seats will have passed a car seat safety standard, yet this differs from country to country! You'll see stickers all over the product, yet they are all different, & have letters and numbers after them. You may encounter seeing a term like R44 or R129. So simply what do these safety standard letters & numbers mean?

Here is the break down:

  • The numbers and letters on car seat safety certifications indicate that the seat has met specific safety standards set by regulatory agencies or organizations.

  • Each safety standard also has Regulations as to what tests they need to pass to achieve the standard. & some also include a focus like enhancing protection for children in vehicles, including features like extended rear-facing travel, & side-impact protection.
  • All car seats that comply with safety standards undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet specific safety requirements. These tests evaluate crash performance, structural integrity, and overall safety measures to provide optimal protection for young passengers.

The other major factor of safety is how easy it is to install. Shockingly, globally the percentage for parents installing car seats incorrectly is still in the mid to high 60% range. So, for you as a parent to have the confidence & peace of mind that you have installed correctly; firstly, read or watch the instructional video of the car seat that you're interested in purchasing. This will let you precheck your vehicle for the suitability. Some car seats need anchorage points for isofix & or tether straps.

ISOFIX anchor pointscan befound in between the back seat cushions-they look like a hook or bar. Tether strap anchorsare located in the boot/trunk of your vehicle.

Remember if you do not install your car seat correctly then it will not preform to expectation in the unfortunate situation of a crash. So TAKE THE TIME to understand the installation! As a Certified Child Restraint Technician, I'm gonna try and make this as easy as possible so you can take a deep breath, feel educated & know you have enough information to make the right decision for you & your bub.

Firstly, like any major purchase, I recommend thinking like this:

  • What are my current needs?
  • What is my lifestyle?
  • What are my priorities?

Answering the first question ‘what are my current needs?’ will help you know what TYPE of car seat you require. You either have a newborn, or a toddler, or a developing schoolkid / tween - which are all the ages&stages that you'll need a car seat in the back of your vehicle!
Car seats come in 3 different types:

  1. Capsule or infant car seat -This rear facing car seat are for newborns. You use this one straight away, and you are required to have one in order to leave the hospital doors for the first time! These car seats are portable, usually lightweight, and you can attach it onto your pram (with the right car seat adaptors) as well as of course in your car. This car seat also usually has a shorter time span of use than a convertible car seat.
  2. Convertible car seat - This is also newborn ready & can be used straight away, however the main difference from a capsule, is that a convertible stays in your car (it cannot attach to your pram). & as the name alludes to, a convertible can well... convert! Basically, meaning it can go from rear facing to forward facing - covering your child's ages & stages for longer!
  3. Booster car seat -This car seat is for your older kid & is the inbetweener before they are tall enough to use the car seat belt – like an adult!

What is my lifestyle?

Why is your lifestyle an important factor in your car seat purchasing decision? Simple - you need to choose a car seat that will best work for you & how you roll.

Don't only think about your daily routine, but how you’re going to manage your car seat journey (for the years to come); from dot – to tot – to tween. Car seats are an important & can be an expensive investment so you'll wanna think of the end game.

If you love the idea of having a portable car seat for your bubs that can attach onto your pram, then your starting point is with a capsule or infant car seat, that will cover you from a newborn to maybe your first year (depending on when they outgrow their seat).

By choosing this option, you most likely would require two more seats ongoing for the later years.

capsule or infant car seat convertible booster

If you have decided that you'd prefer a car seat that provides longevity & that attaching to your pram is not a high priority, then your starting it point is with a convertible car seat. With a convertible you're set from newborn to toddler years. This option would require one more seat to take your kid to the last stages of needing a car seat!

convertible booster

Now enter the tween years, & your cool kiddo is still not tall enough to safely wear your vehicle car seat belt. Then this is the time a booster care seat comes into play. Things to consider is the ease of your kid getting in & out on their own, putting their own seat belt on, & also carpooling for those extracurricular activities. You'll wanna look for lightness & ease... oh & good looks plays a big part too for your kid who now will have an opinion on things!


Knowing what's important to you, & going through this process, will mean that you will get exactly what you need, will allow you to save money, & enhances YOUR lifestyle.

I hope you found these lil tips helpful! I wish I had this simplicity of thought processing when Elijah was younger, but hey, I pass on my experience and knowledge to you in the hope that this helps all your awesome parents! Here are just a couple more things to wrap up with:

Expectant or first-time parents – PLEASE install your car seat at least a month before your bubs birth date! You never know when your lil one is actually gonna make an appearance so make it a stress free knowing that you have installed correctly, & you're a pro from day dot!

Seasoned parents – your kiddo may have an unexpected growth spurt so be prepared. Manufacturer's guidelines & recommendations will let you know when to transition to a new car seat, so take good note of your kids age&stage&height as you wanna prepare to buy the next level car seat (& save up accordingly to make the purchase!)

To ALL parents – if you’re unsure about when it's time to switch to the next car seat for your kid, simply refer to the manufacturer's instructions. These instructions are based on the safety standards certification that the car seat has met. They will indicate the appropriate weight, age, or height requirements for transitioning to the next car seat! This may seem logical, but it's incredible how many parents forget the information is actually in front of them!

& lastly, this is about YOU, not your friends! Of course, you’ll look around & talk to friends & family on recommendations which is great! HOWEVER, their life is theirs, & yours is yours. Sometimes we get caught up in the competition, of what friends have & what worked for them, & forget the way you live life is so different – so really do look at your own lifestyle and choosing the right car seat that works for you, your family & most importantly your bub! 😘

Happy car seat shopping with confidence, & if you have any questions, ping me a comment below!! 😎

Sofia 🩷

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