Choosing the right car seat
As your child grows, he/she will use three different types of car seat before graduating to using only the seat belt:
- Baby (infant)
- Convertible (infant-toddler)
The car seat should be chosen based on the child’s weight. For children under 10 kg (22 lb), the baby car seat should be used. Once your child weighs 10 kg (22 lb) or more, you can move on to the convertible seat. Once your child weighs 18 kg (40 lb) or more, you can move on to the booster seat.
Once your child’s legs are long enough to bend at the edge of the seat while in a seated position, and he/she is tall enough so that the seatbelt sits at his/her hips and at the top of his/her shoulder, he/she can move on from the booster seat and use the seatbelt.
How to correctly install the car seat
It is important to have a good car seat, but it is even more important to make sure it is correctly installed. By taking the time to correctly install your child’s car seat, you can reduce the risk of serious injury or death in an accident by 70%.2
- Install the car seat on the backseat – this is the safest spot.
- Position the car seat away from the vehicle’s air bags.
- Attach the seat to the Universal Anchorage System (valid only for vehicles built after 2002, otherwise, attach it to the seatbelt).
- Position the baby seat so that it is rear-facing – this is the safest position.
- Before turning the car seat so that it is front-facing, make sure that your child meets the height and weight requirements.
- Make sure you closely follow the installation and safety instructions contained in the car seat’s manual.
- Always choose a car seat certified by Transport Canada.
- Do not leave a child under one year of age in a car seat for more than an hour. As needed, take breaks to move the child and change his/her position.
- Children under 12 years of age should sit in the back seat. By sitting away from the front of the vehicle, they will be safer in the event of a front-end collision.
- Following an accident, always replace the car seat, whether or not it was affected by the accident. Your insurance company will usually cover the cost.
Is your car seat expired?
Car seats indeed have an expiration date. This date will help you see when the seat should be changed so that it remains effective. If your car seat is expired, do not use it. The expiration date is usually indicated on a sticker or moulded on or under the seat. In 2011, Transport Canada issued a consumer information notice regarding the useful life of children’s car seats manufactured in and imported to Canada. The useful life of a car seat can vary from one model to the next, and is usually between five and ten years.
When in doubt, check!
In Quebec only, there is a free child car seat verification service. An expert will make sure that your child’s car seat is compliant and properly installed. He/she will make sure that the seat is right for your child’s height and weight.
Schedule an appointment with the child car seat verification network.
2 Source: Transport Canada