Whether you’re about to hit the road with a newborn, infant, or child, it is always best to think twice about car seat safety. Have help from family and friends caring for your child? Share this article, so everyone is on the same page.
Get the right seat
Car seats aren’t a one-size-fits-most situation. Depending on your child’s age and size, they will require different seats, from a newborn seat to a child’s booster. Regardless of which child you are shopping for, the seat should have a National Safety Mark attached to it, indicating it is approved for use in Canada.
Familiarize yourself with age and stage guidelines on seat types — Ontario's Ministry of Transportation outlines regulations for rear- to forward-facing transitions, as well as the different types of seats for different child sizes.
While it may be tempting to use a hand-me down, or search the online baby groups for a deal, car seats are something you want to purchase new. This ensures the seat is in good condition, and more importantly, you know its history.
Second hand seats carry the risk of undisclosed collisions, component degeneration, or out-of-date warranties. We know kids grow fast, and baby supplies can be pricey, but this is one area where peace of mind outweighs sticker shock.
While the manual that comes with the car seat may be straightforward, car seats can be puzzling, especially for first-time parents. Take the time to install the seat before baby arrives, as some seats may require additional parts (such as a Universal Tether Strap) or vehicle modifications.
As your child grows through different seats, check government guidelines to ensure the installation is secure and your child is strapped in appropriately. Still puzzled? Trained car seat technicians can help you do it right. Contact your local public health agency, fire, or police departments for a list of techs in your area.
Keep it current
All car seats sold in Canada will have an expiry date or useful life date somewhere on the product. Car seats do expire — sun exposure can weaken components, while spills can impact the safe function of straps and buckles. Additionally, instructional labels can fade, or manuals are can be lost, impacting the ability to install and maintain properly.
Once you have your car seat, regularly check for any manufacturer recall notices. Transport Canada publishes full details of all recalls, including the issue overview, company action, and tips for consumer recourse.
Do the double check
For every ride, make sure the car seat is still tight and secure, clothing isn’t preventing straps from doing their job, that the car seat is still appropriate for the age and size of the child. Running through key adjustmentsevery time means that you have the right fit for every trip.