Car Seat Buying Guide
Whether you have a new addition to your family, or your baby is growing up, it's important to ensure your child's safety with an appropriate vehicle seat. This guide will explain car seat stages, show you how to choose the right car seat based on age, weight and height and provide recommendations on car seat replacement and installation.
Stages of Car Seat Safety
- For infants under 10 kg (22 lbs.).
- Designed to protect and support weak neck and back muscles.
- Seat rests on a 45° angle facing the back of the vehicle and should move no more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) from side to side.
- There should be a minimum of 2.5 cm (1 in.) from your child's top of head to the top of the car seat restraint.
- Harness must fit snugly to prevent the infant from sliding up the seat during a collision.
- Required by law for newborns when leaving the hospital.
- For toddlers and small children between 10 and 18kg (22-40 lbs.), although some forward facing seats are designed for children up to 30kg (65 lbs.), so be sure to follow the manufacturer's height and weight recommendations.
- Always use a tether strap to secure seat to tether anchors in your vehicle.
- Shoulder straps sit at or above shoulders and chest clip should be at armpit level.
- Straps should be snug, with no more than one finger width between strap and child's chest.
- Multi-point harness spreads the force of a sudden stop or crash over the strongest parts of your child's body.
- For children between 18 and 45kg (40-100 lbs.), and less than 145 cm (4'9").
- Most kids need to ride in a booster seat from about age 4 until at least age 8.
- Child should remain in a booster seat until the vehicle's standard seat belts fit properly and all the requirements of the provincial regulations have been met.
Car Seat Installation and Tips
8 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly. Be sure to read the child restraint instructions and the vehicle owner's manual, and follow manufacturer's instructions for proper use, weight and size limits.
- The back seat of the vehicle is the safest place for children 12 years of age and under.
- Depending on your vehicle, the centre rear seat may be safest for a car seat because it is furthest from impact and intrusion from any direction.
- Leave as much space as possible between the child seat and the front seat of your vehicle.
- Consider air bag effects.
- Consider needs of other passengers.
- To confirm your seat is properly installed, look for clinics on car seat safety and installation in your community. Contact St John's Ambulance or your local Fire/Police/Health departments for more information.
Although Canadian Tire does carry car seats appropriate for only one stage, many can be used through different stages of your child's development. Use child car seat selector tool.
|Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3|
|Rear-facing seat||For infants under 10kg (22 lbs.)||Required by law for newborns when leaving the hospital.|
|Convertible car seat||Rear-facing position until 10kg (22 lbs.)||Forward-facing position with a 5-point harness for toddlers 10-22kg (22 to 50 lbs||Transport Canada recommends children remain rear-facing until they are at least 1 year old.|
|3-in-1 car seat||Rear-facing position until 10kg (22 lbs.)||Forward-facing position with a 5-point harness for toddlers 10-22kg (22 to 50 lb||Forward-facing for children 18-45kg (40 to 100 lbs)||Will take your child through all three stages of safety seats.
Must be converted from rear-facing to forward facing after 35 lbs, and from forward facing to booster at 50 lbs.
|Child restraint/high back booster||Forward-facing for toddlers 10-18kg (22 to 40 lbs||Forward-facing for children 18-45kg (40 to 100 lbs.)||Generally can be used forward facing with a 5-point harness, then converted to a booster.|
|Booster seat – low and high back||Forward facing for children 18-45kg (40 to 100 lbs.)||Helps position the child properly on the vehicle seat.
Should only ever be used with a lap/shoulder belt.
High-back options offer additional comfort and protection.
With low-backed boosters, vehicles must have adjustable head restraints for head and neck protection.
Disclaimer: Always check the manufacturer's specification on each seat for the appropriate height and weight rating, as these can vary by seat and manufacturer.
- Car seat unsuitable for child's age, weight and development.
- Premature graduation to a forward-facing or booster seat.
- Vehicle seat belt buckle and/or child restraint buckle not securely locked.
- Incorrect use or absence of locking clip.
- Incorrect use of vehicle seat belts to secure car seat.
- Car seat installed loosely on seat of vehicle.
- Tether strap not used or loosely attached.
- Harness incorrectly positioned on the shoulders for your child's height and for rear or forward facing.
- Chest clip too low.
Tip: Remember to send in your product registration card after purchase to receive notice of any recalls.
- Adjustability – Check the mechanisms for tightening and loosening the harness as well as adjusting the shoulder harness height.
- Recline – This is essential in rear-facing mode for infant car seats. In child car seats, forward-facing recline helps ensure the car seat can be installed flush against the vehicle seat, and can provide additional comfort for your child.
- Side Impact Protection – Side impact collisions account for 1 in 3 child crash fatalities. Side impact protection deflects energy away from your child. There are no universal safety standards for side impact protection; all manufacturers have developed their own.
- Fit – Be sure the consult the seat guidelines for age, weight and height recommendations. Make sure the infant or child seat fits your child's shoulder and head height. You should also consider how the car seat will fit in your vehicle and make sure it can be correctly installed using both the vehicle and car seat guidelines.
- If your child has outgrown the manufacturer’s weight and height recommendations for their current car seat
- Always replace a child seat that was in a car crash. Even if your child was not in the seat. It could be damaged.
- Child seats have expiration dates. Replace yours when expired.
It's important to understand that laws for child seating vary by province and territory, so be sure to know the legislation in your region.