Car & Booster Seat Safety

To help parents navigate the complicated world of booster seat safety, we are putting together some information and resources. Although this does not replace a consultation with a child passenger safety technician, it will serve as a helpful guide to get you started.

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Up to 73% of car seats are installed incorrectly.

– Bruce, B., Cramm, C., Mundle, K., Williams, D., & Conrad, A. (2015)

Children between the ages of four and eight are almost two times less likely to be seated correctly in vehicles than infants or older children

– Snowden, A., Hussein, A., Ahmed, E. (2008)

Top 5 Things to look for when purchasing a car seat or booster seat

  • Age, height and weight: Is the car seat appropriate to the size and stage of your child?
  • When does the seat expire? How long after the date of manufacturing will the car seat expire? Make sure the seat is not nearing expiry!
  • Has it passed safety testing? All car and booster seats sold in Canada have passed Transport Canada’s safety testing; therefore, they are all safe to use if they have the National Safety mark on it.
  • Does the seat fit in your vehicle? Try the car seat or booster seat in your car to ensure it fits safely and securely in your vehicle.
  • Your child can be correctly secured into the car seat. Always check that straps are tight. You should not be able to pinch or grab the strap and chest clip is at armpit level.

The best car seat is the one that fits your child, your vehicle and can be used correctly each and every time.

How to install a car seat

Five questions to ask yourself to make sure your seat is installed properly.

Have you adjusted the harness straps to be in the correct position for the child’s orientation?

How are you installing the seat? UAS or Seatbelt?

If forward facing, have you found an approved top tether location?

When rear facing, is the seat or base at the appropriate angle?

When the seat is installed, does it move less than 1 inch, front to back, or side to side?

BONUS: Make sure to read both your vehicle AND the car seat manuals.

Important tips regarding car seats and booster seats:

  • All car seats sold in Canada have passed Transport Canada’s safety testing; therefore, they are all safe to use. That said, the safest seat for your child is the one that fits your vehicle properly, fits your child properly, and that you are able to use correctly every time.
  • No, you do not have to purchase an infant only seat. You can purchase a convertible seat for your newborn as long as the weight limit starts at 5lbs (as most convertible seats do). That said, we recommend using an infant only seat for a newborn as they tend to do a better job at fitting infants properly and they are very convenient, since they can be clicked in and out of the vehicle easily.
  • Please read your car or booster seat manual. Almost everything you need to know about your car seat is written in the user manual. The majority of parents do not read the manual, so if you do you are already one step ahead.
  • Ask the manufacturer. If you are unsure of something after reading the manual, contact the car seat manufacturer. They have knowledgeable people on staff who are generally very happy to answer any of your questions.
  • Read your vehicle manual. Vehicle manuals have a section on Child Restraints. Be sure to read this section to verify if there are any specific instructions regarding car seat installation. 
  • Always read the weight and height limits of the car seat before purchasing.
  • And make sure to TRY BEFORE YOU BUY! Do not purchase a car seat until you have tried it in your vehicle and tried your child in the seat (except for expecting parents of course). All vehicles, car seats, and children are unique and it is certainly not a case of “one size fits all.” A great resource for comparing car seats can be found at Car Seats For The Littles.
  • Remember, it’s important to recognize that the safest seat for your child is the one that fits your vehicle properly, fits your child properly, and that you are able to use correctly every time.
  • Book an appointment with a Certified Car Seat Technician to ensure your car seat or booster seat is correctly installed.

Local Car Seat and Booster Seat Installers and Clinics

Safe Seats Ottawa

Seats for Kids

CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician)

Online Resources

Child Safety Link – Toolkits and Resources

Car Seat Safety – Transport Canada

How to Choose a Car Seat – Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Kids Play Safe – Canadian Car Seat Laws

Car Seats For The Littles

Car Seat Lady

CPSAC – Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada

Car Seat Blog

SEATS for Kids Facebook Group

Why do car seats expire?

Thank you to our BestFit Booster Program Partner

Safer Roads Ottawa

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