It may only be the first day of the 3-week royal tour of New Zealand and Australia but The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have already come under fire for their choice of car seat for Prince George.
Before the royal couple had even touched down in New Zealand soil, Plunket, the national childcare advisory agency, issued a photograph of one of their staff fitting a Maxi-Cosi Tobi forward-facing car seat into Kate and Willam’s official car.
But, as New Zealander parents were quick to point out, this particular car seat is forward-facing – despite Plunket’s own strict guidelines telling parents to keep carrying children in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2.
Plunket’s Facebook page was inundated with comments from parents, accusing the organisation of hypocrisy.
“If it was any one of us New Zealanders, we would have got a horrible look from passers-by,” posted one parent. “Is it because they are royals that you seem to think rules don’t apply?”
Another wrote: “Totally appalled that Plunket is prepared to get publicity for themselves at the cost of sending out completely the wrong ideas about child safety.”
Plunket responded by making it clear that the seat was chosen by the Duke and Duchess and not its own staff, and that “while Plunket recommends that children stay in rear-facing seats until age 2, it is not a legal requirement”.
Kensington Palace also confirmed that the seat was “the couple’s choice”.
So, is a forward-facing car seat unsafe before the age of 2?
No. The important thing to know here is that forward-facing car seats are not unsafe – provided you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and observe the car seat’s age/weight restrictions.
There have been studies recently, however, that suggest using a rearward-facing car seat for longer may be safer – which is probably while the guidelines in New Zealand, which are slightly different to those in the UK, recommend using rearward-facing seats until the age of 2.
Laws here in the UK state that babies should not move to in a forward-facing seat until he or she weighs 9kg – which usually works out at about 9 months of age. If you’re happier leaving your child in a suitable rearward-facing seat for longer, though, that’s completely fine.
The £260 Maxi-Cosi Tobi seat that the Cambridges have chosen is appropriate for a child weighing 9-18kg (roughly 9 months to 4 years of age).
“The Tobi is a forward-facing seat,” says a Maxi-Cosi spokesperson. “However, Maxi-Cosi supports the concept of ‘rearward-facing for longer’, and would encourage parents not to rush their children into forward-facing.”
MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb