Does your child’s safety seat “fit” properly?

Choose a seat designed for your child’s current age, height and weight. Newborns fit best in an infant-only seat. When strapped into your vehicle, your child’s safety seat should not move more than 2.5cm (1 inch) to the front or to the side of the vehicle. In some vehicles, locking clips and/or tether straps may be essential to hold seats securely.


When is it permissible to move my baby from a rear-facing to a forward-facing car seat?

A child is developmentally ready to ride forward facing when your child is: one year old and your child has the ability to pull to a stand unassisted and has attained the minimum weight recommended (9/10kg or 20/22lb.).


When is it time to move my child to a belt-positioning booster seat?

Once your child is 18 kg (40 lb.), he or she should ride in a belt-positioning booster which requires the use of the vehicle shoulder/lap belt.


Is it safe for young children to ride in the back seat with just a lap/shoulder belt?

The Ontario Government’s new legislation-effective September 1, 2005 – requires the use of booster seats for children who have outgrown a car seat but are too small to be properly secured by the vehicle seatbelt. Children between 18 kg to less than 36 kg (40 lb to 80 lb), with a standing height of less than 145 cm (4 ft. 9 inches) and under the age of 8 are required to use a booster seat. In fact, having a lap belt crossing over the stomach can pose a dangerous hazard. Also, using just the lap portion of the lap/shoulder belt, with the shoulder belt tucked behind the back or under the arm, can cause serious internal injuries during a crash.


When is my child old enough to ride without a booster?

According to the provincial law, a child can start using a seatbelt alone once any one of the following criteria is met:

  • Child turns eight years old
  • Child weighs 36 kg (80 lb.)
  • Child is 145 cm (4’9”)

However, it is recommended that you should ensure that your child fits in the vehicle and its seat belt system properly. Your child is ready to move from the booster seat to a lap/shoulder belt only if, while sitting against the vehicle seat back, your child’s:

  1. a) knees bend at the edge of the seat cushion
  2. b) lap belt fits over the hip (pelvic bone, not the abdomen)
  3. c) shoulder belt crosses the shoulder or collar bone (not the neck), and
  4. d) position can be maintained throughout the trip


At what age can my child start riding in the front seat?

Children should ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old—whether or not there is a passenger air bag in the front. Sitting in the front seat reduces protection by 27%, nearly a third!


Does the passenger air bag provide protection for a baby in a rear-facing seat?

No. Never place a child in a rear-facing safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle if there is a passenger air bag. Air bags significantly increase a rear-facing child’s risk of injury or death. Even in vehicles without a passenger air bag, the back seat is safest for all passengers.


Can my baby ride on someone’s lap for short trips?

No. Infants and children are never safe riding in another passenger’s lap. Most crashes happen close to home and at low speeds, not during long trips. A child riding on an adult’s lap could be crushed by the magnified force of the adult’s body which equals more than one ton of force at just 30 mph.


Is it okay to buckle two people in the same safety belt?

Never double-buckle. Buckling two children in one belt is not safe. Their heads can strike one another at the speed the vehicle was traveling during a crash, causing serious injury or death.


Should a car seat be used after it has been in a crash?

No. Child safety seats must be replaced after a collision.

In fact, many auto insurance companies will pay for a new seat—but you need to ask.


My car seat is five years old. Should I still use it, or how do I dispose of it?

Transport Canada recommends all seats be disposed of after 10 years. Some car seat manufacturers have specific expiry dates for their models, ranging from 5 to 10 years from the date of manufacture, based on their own research and crash-tests. New car seats often have the expiration date molded right into the plastic shell of the car seat. Otherwise locate the label on the car seat that shows the model number and date of manufacture and contact the car seat manufacturer to determine if your seat is still safe to use. To safely dispose of your car seat, cut off all harnessing, remove all padding, and place the shell and car seat parts in separate dark coloured garbage bags.


Have you read your child’s safety seat instruction manual lately?

Much of the information that parents need to properly restrain their children in their car seats can be found in the instruction manual that comes with the seat. It is very important to read the manual before using the seat and to refer back to it as your child grows and the seat needs to be adjusted.