Your Child Car Seat Safety Questions…Answered!

Got kids?

Then you’ve likely got questions… Anything from “When should they start eating solids?” to “When are they going to start walking and talking?”

But one of the most important questions you will likely ask yourself is, “Which car seat do I choose and when?”

Good question! Here are the answers to five frequently asked questions about child car seats, collected from our friends at ICBC, BCAA and the folks at Transport Canada:

1. What type of seat should I choose for my child?
The age and size of your child will dictate the type of seat you need. Because your child is always growing, over time you will need purchase more than one type of seat to accommodate them.

There are four types of child seating and restraint systems:

  1. Infants: need to sit in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 12 months old and over 9 kilograms (20 pounds).
  2. Toddlers: need to sit in forward-facing car seats when the child is at least a year old and over 9 kilograms (20 pounds). They should continue to be buckled into this type of seat until they are 18 kilograms (40 pounds).
  3. Under 9 years old: need to be in booster seats with seat belts when the child is under nine years of age or until they have reached the height of 145 cm (4’9″) tall.
  4. Youth: need a properly adjusted seat belt. It’s the last stage for anyone over 9 years age.
Transport Seal

If you don’t see this sign, don’t buy it

2. Does the seat have to meet Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?
Yes.
Transport Canada says that child and infant restraint systems, booster cushions, restraint systems for disabled persons and restraint systems for infants with special need must be clearly labelled to indicate that they comply with the Canadian standards in effect at the time of manufacture.

3. What about expiry dates?
All children’s car seats and booster seats sold in Canada have an expiry or useful life date on them, even though this is not required by regulation. Manufacturers do this to inform buyers of the potential risks of using car seats and booster seats that may be missing important parts, labels or instructions or have unknown history. Beyond this date, the car seat should be discarded rather than donated to a charitable organization, second hand store, or given to friends or relatives.

4. What is the proper position for a car seat?
The safest position for your baby or child is in the back, middle seat of the vehicle.

  • Do not place your child’s car seat in the front seat of any vehicle with a passenger side air bag that cannot be turned off.
  • Do not allow a child younger than age 13 to sit in the front seat of any vehicle.
  • Make sure a rear-facing seat is reclined at a 45 degree angle so your infant’s head does not flop forward.
  • Hearing a child cry can be hard, but please do not take your child out of his or her seat while the car is moving. If your child needs attention, stop the car, take the child out of the seat, take care of his or her needs, and put him or her back into the seat before the car starts moving again.

5. What type of attachment system should I use?
Vehicles manufactured since September 2002 come equipped with a universal anchorage system (sometimes called a LATCH or Lower Anchor and Tether for Child safety system). This feature allows parents to secure the car seat directly to a specialized anchor rather than use the seat belt for security. If your car predates the attachment system, use the vehicles seat belt to secure the base of the car seat.

So, will your child ever stop sucking their thumb or eating only noodles? We aren’t the experts on that, but chances are pretty good they will. Will you know what to look for in a car seat from here on out? We hope so! Because regulations change, we encourage you to check with Transport Canada for updates. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, let us know in the comments section below and we will happy to help find the answer. Happy trails!

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29 Responses to Your Child Car Seat Safety Questions…Answered!

  1. James Ritchie on January 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Car Seat Question

    I sell for Toyota and have a customer with 5 children (age 7 and younger) and wants to buy a 2014 Toyota Sienna van.

    The Toyota Sienna comes with 3 LATCH positions (2 centre row and 1 in the middle of the third row).

    What is the legal and safest manner to add 2 addtional car seat positions? Top tethers would need to be installed. The seat belts are still the locking, retracting type used previous to the invention of the LATCH system.

    What vehicles in the Canadian marketplace are capable of legally and safely carrying 5 child car seats?

    Thank you for your investigation and answers to these questions.

    James

    • tranbceditor on January 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Hi James,

      Car seats secured without the LATCH system (with locking/retracting seatbelts) are legal and safe in Canada. The LATCH system does provide the added security, but for the older children (7 year old) who are likely in a booster seat, a tether is not required. Those seats will use a shoulder restraint in the traditional manner. If the customer has all five children in infant seat/convertible seats and wants to have additional tethers installed in their vehicle, we would likely direct them to a dealer/mechanic such as yourself to make those adjustments.

      Here is more information from Transport Canada:http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safedrivers-childsafety-car-time-stages-1083.htm

      Hope that this helps!

  2. tanya on July 16, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Are there regulations or laws that govern at what age a child can sit in the front seat of a vehicle?
    Thank you,

    • tranbceditor on July 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      While there is no legislated age restriction for sitting in the front seat in B.C., Transport Canada recommends that kids 12 and under sit in the backseat.

  3. agoose on February 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    can carseats be tethered using the Swedish method while rear facing ? does it depend on the vehicle?

    • tranbceditor on February 16, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Tethering your car seat in the rear facing direction depends on the model of the infant carrier and the vehicle you will be using. In order to use an infant carrier in the rear facing position, the carrier must come with a tether strap and D ring which will anchor to the floor under the seat which the infant seat rests behind. Here is a great blog with more info: http://carseatblog.com/12749/how-to-use-a-rear-facing-tether/

      Hope that this helps!

  4. Amanda on November 21, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I have a 3 in 1 convertible car seat and am currently switching it to the booster seat setting. Yes my son meets all requirements. But I am wondering why as a rear facing seat it uses the UAS and as a forward seat it uses the UAS but as a booster seat my manual clearly states not to use UAS. Does anyone know why this is? It makes more sense to me that it be securely fastened to my seat!

    • tranbceditor on November 23, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. We encourage you to follow the manufacturers directions. The manufacturer of your seat may have designed your seat to function without the UAS. Because there are so many different types of booster seats we suggest you connect directly with the manufacturer or Transport Canada here: https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safedrivers-childsafety-index-53.htm
      Hope that this helps.

    • tranbceditor on November 24, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Hello again Martin,

      We spoke with the maintenance contractor for North Island and here is what they shared with us about the liquid spray used:
      Anti-Icing liquid chemicals are applied in advance of a forecasted event in order to maintain surface traction through the stages of the event. Anti-icing chemicals also assist in the prevention of the formation of BLACK ICE or a bond between the surface and compact snow. Anti-icing liquid is also applied to a bare, dry or damp road surface in advance of a predicted weather event (storm, black ice, frost, ect.). The use of this procedure and application rates are dependent upon various forecasted weather factors such as: temperatures, precipitation types, accumulation, dew point, ect.

      Sodium chloride brine is the product used for anti-icing. The optimum brine solution is 23.7% NaCl to water. NaCl brine is generally used at pavement temperatures of -6 C and above. There are circumstances where brine may be applied in special situations with lower surface temperatures.

      We hope that this helps, please let us know if you have any other questions. Thank you!

  5. Rachel on February 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Is a carseat needed when I drive my friends and their toddler in my car? My friends do not have a car and they don’t have a carseat and neither do I.

  6. Alfredo on March 2, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    My friend from California will be visiting me this summer. She will be bringing 2 children (ages 3 and 1) with her, together with the two car seats she purchased and now using in California (meets USA and California safety standards). Is it legal to use those car seats here in British Columbia and Alberta?

    • tranbceditor on March 3, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Hello Alfredo,

      We suggest you review the information on the Canadian federal transportation site regarding your question. We found the following information there:

      The regulations were rewritten to align with the United States on many issues and to incorporate some new and unique Canadian testing requirements.

      The differences between the Canadian and U.S. regulations include:

      The need for labels, information, and instructions to be provided in both of Canada’s official languages;
      The minimum weight requirement to use a booster seat remains at 18kg (versus 13.6 kg in the U.S.);
      The mandatory use of a tether strap for front-facing child seats;
      A mandatory inversion test for both infant and child seats;
      A unique booster deflection test;
      The lap/shoulder seat belt testing requirement for all types of car seats;
      The extension of the limitation on rebound to all rear facing child seats; and
      Energy absorbing material requirements.

      Here is the website for more information: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safedrivers-childsafety-notices-2007c09-menu-353.htm?campaign=Twitter-eng&WT.mc_id=19ci4

  7. Tammy on June 21, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Hi there!
    Im just wondering about rules/regulations regarding old cars and the use of booster seats. We have a 1969 vehicle equipped with adjustable lap belts, which I understand cannot be used with booster seats. Do I just seatbelt my child in or..?

    • tranbceditor on June 27, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Hi Tammy,

      If there is a seat belt in the car it should be used to secure the car seat. If this is just a simple base only booster seat, simply secure the belt around the lap of the child on the booster and tighten it. Hope that this helps.

  8. KC on July 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    I have visitors coming from England with their children. Are they allowed to use their car seats here if just visiting? Or they must purchase Canadian ones?

    • tranbceditor on July 6, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      No, unfortunately not. Car seats must be clearly labelled showing it complies with Canadian standards. There are rental options available.

  9. Jasmin on July 16, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Hi there,
    I’m wondering if it is legally safe to use those half moon cushions around my babies neck while in the carseat to prevent her head from going in a sideways position hen she is asleep

    • tranbceditor on July 18, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Jasmin,

      Transport Canada is the agency responsible for car seat standards and regulations. There is also a lot of information about child car seats from the BC Automobile Association and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). None of it says anything about using a cushion around the baby’s neck. This leads me to believe there is nothing illegal about using these cushions around your baby’s neck. I suggest you contact one or all of these agencies, should you wish to confirm that there are no safety concerns with the cushions: HealthlinkBC call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. BCAA 1-877-247-5551 or email roadsafety@bcaa.com. Transport Canada – 1-800-333-0371.

  10. Jen on August 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    My kid is 9yr old but not 145cm tall. Is it required by law to have him sit in a booster?

    • tranbceditor on August 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      The ages provided are rough approximations — the child’s size is what’s most important when choosing a restraint system. Children must be in booster seats with seat belts until they have reached the height of 145 cm (4’9″) tall.

  11. Crystal on August 17, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Hi first time mom here I have an infant car seat and a 2002 Impala, so I am just wondering if I am correct that the car seat has to be rear facing in the Middle back seat and using the latch and anchor system to be covered in my car?

  12. Catherine on August 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Hi,

    My friend’s 5-year-old child will unlock the car seat and set himself free while the parent is driving. Is there any child-proof (lock) car seat that a child cannot unlock the car seat on his own?

    Thanks,

    Catherine

    • tranbceditor on August 19, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Hi Catherine,

      Dang kids eh? 😉 There are covers for sale (a quick google search for five point harness buckle cover should do the trick). If that doesn’t fit the bill, they might want to connect with the car seat manufacturer to see if they recommend something. Hope that this helps.

  13. Peggy MacAulay on December 3, 2016 at 1:11 am

    I am wondering who you enforce using car seats that are not expired. My family member is using an expired car seat and want to contact somone to enforce using a properly dated car seat.

    • tranbceditor on December 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

      Hi Peggy,

      The RCMP is responsible for enforcing these regulations. Hope that this helps.

  14. Debra Anderson on March 13, 2017 at 8:38 am

    I am very concerned about the height requirement for booster seats as I have bench seats so a child sitting in a booster seat will get serious whip lash in case of an accident as the back of the seat only goes to middle of her shoulder blades!
    She is 4’7″

    • tranbceditor on March 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Debra,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Sounds like your child still needs a booster seat for a little bit longer as booster seats are for kids under nine years old or 145 cm (4’9″) tall. There are booster seats available with backs that might help provide more head and neck support. Hope that this helps!

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