Rear Facing

Infant Seats

All infant seats and capsules MUST be used rear facing. Rear facing is safest position for ALL infants 24 months old or younger, if your child is small enough, or your seat allows a higher weight/height you can continue to keep them rear facing.

infant capsule


Rear facing bucket like seat for infants 2.3kg to a maximum of 13kgs dependent on model. 

A capsule is portable, with  a carry handle and a rocking base. Most models now can be used with a convince base, this means you do not need to re-thread the vehicle belt each time you travel.

convertible rear facing

Convertible car seat

A convertible car seat can be used from birth to preschool age. It allows both rear and forward facing.

The seats are less portable than capsules. They are belted and tethered in. Seats with single strap tethers cannot be used when rear facing.

Rear facing is much safer to the child during an impact than forward facing, due to the way in which the child rides out the accident. When a child is rear facing and an accident occurs the child's body moves into the back of the seat shell and the head, neck and spine are supported. A young child's head equates to 1/4 of their total body mass, as shown on the chart below. By travelling rear facing the head is protected within the seat shell, and less strain is placed on the child's head and neck.

body proportion

Never place a rear facing child restraint in the front seat where fitted with airbags. Doing so could result in injury or death. Never place the infant seat forward facing in the front or rear seat to avoid collision with airbags injury or death is still likely to occur.


Harness fit over infants body

The pinch test is used to check that your child's harness is tight enough against their body. Previously it was common practice to slide 1-2 fingers between the child's chest and the harness. This will give false idea of how tight the harness is.

If you can pinch any of the harness between finger and thumb then the belt is not tight enough.

If your seat has a chest clip this should always be positioned at the child's armpit level (the "tickle zone"). It should never ride down by the buckle.

What about their legs? Wont they get squashed? Will they break in an accident? They have to turn forward when their legs touch the back seat, don't they?

The answer to that is no. Children are happy to sit with their legs bent when rear facing, and there have been no reported cases of legs breaking when in a rear facing accident. Children who touch the back of the seat with their legs are not in danger from broken legs, poor circulation nor are they going to do any long term damage to their development or walking skills.

Rear facing is not only designed for infants. Plunket recommends rear facing children until they are 2 years old. If your child's car seat carries a child rear facing to 12kgs, then use it until rear facing until your child is 12kgs. Rear facing is said to be up to 70% safer than forward facing.

If you are concerned that your child may become upset by not being able to see you remember that you can talk to your child. Some parents have even placed a photo of themselves on the back seat of the car for their infant to see. If you are worried that you cannot see your child you can purchase a rear view mirror to attach to your car that allows you to see your child.

Rear facing isn't only for babies, its perfectly safe for toddlers too, as long as your seat allows it.

Children riding in rear-facing infant car seats have the lowest risk of injury among all children, according to Partners for Child Passenger Safety.

Out growing the infant seat

Your child has outgrown the rear facing seat when only 1 inch (2.5cm) of seat shell remains above their head. Do NOT use the seat rear facing until your child's head is in line with the top of the seat or over the edge, this could cause serious injuries in an accident. This applies to all rear facing seats.

out grown car seat

When the child's head has a minimum of 1 inch (2.5cm) above it, you need to move your child into another seat. If your child is under 12kgs and is not yet 12 months old, this move needs to be to a rear facing convertible car seat. The longer your child is rear facing the safer they will be in an accident.

The child in the image to the left has long out-grown the capsule and needs to be moved into a rear facing convertible seat. You need to move your child before this happens.

Use the links below to find out more:

| The stages and types of restraint use
| For children 1-4 years of age
| Car seat hire, install and purchase
| Makes seeing your baby safe and easy

"age" here is approximate and is a guide only, check your manual for details on minimum and maximum weight limits.