How To

The Scary Reality of Improper Car Seat Installation

Your child's car seat is their cocoon of safety - it's our job as parents to ensure our children are safe on the street and on the road

As a mother of twin toddlers, car seat safety is my number one concern. For parents, it is more pressing now that summer is here to make sure our children are comfortable, cool and secure in their car seat.

What are the common mistakes parents make when installing their car seats?

  • The seat is too loose in your car. If you hold your car seat and shake it, the car seat should stay firmly secured to the base or vehicle seat.
  • The harness is too loose on your child. Once the 5-point harness is on your little one, you should not be able to place more than one finger under the strap when positioned on your child’s shoulder.
  • Parents are moving their infant into a forward-facing car seat too soon. The car seat manufacture guidelines will stipulate an age and height requirement (not an age or height requirement) before you can move a child to a forward-facing position.
  • The angle of your rear-facing car seat is miscalculated. A properly installed rear-facing car seat is at a 45-degree angle. Newer car seats have a level indicator to help parents adjust the angle correctly.

Let us look at what you can do to ensure your children’s safety at all times in their car seat.

Car Seat Safety

Before purchasing, many parents think, what car seat is right for me?

You might be overwhelmed with all the choices of car restraints available. From infant car seats to convertible car seats and even all-in-one seats, the choices are endless. However, one thing is for sure: any car seat you end up purchasing must adhere to car seat regulations.

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Car Seat Regulations

The Ontario car seat laws have specific guidelines for weight and height limits in children. For infants, the Ontario Highways Traffic Act requires,

“Children to use a rear-facing car seat until the child weighs at least 9 kg (20 lb.). This is a minimum requirement. Some rear-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 20 kg (45 lb.). It is best to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the manufacturer´s weight or height limits.”

For toddlers, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act also requires,

“Children to use a forward-facing child car seat when they weigh from 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lbs.). This is a minimum requirement. Some forward-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 30 kg (65 lb.). It is best to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the manufacturer´s weight and height limits.”

Lastly, for pre-school age children up to eight years old, booster seat regulations require,

“Children to use a booster seat when they weigh 18 kg to 36 kg (40-80 lbs.), are less than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall, and are under the age of 8. This is a minimum requirement. It is best to keep your child in a booster seat until they reach the manufacturer’s height or weight limits.”

All Canadian provinces have their own car seat laws that lay out specific guidelines. To guarantee a safe ride for your child, check with your province’s car seat law.

two children in their car seat

I have a daughter and a son who are almost two years old. My son weighs approximately 14 kg (30 lb.) and my daughter weighs 9 kg (20 lb.). We have a Britax Pavilion Car Seat and although my children have reached the minimum requirement to move to a forward facing position, my husband and I will keep them rear facing as long as possible to ensure their safety.

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Choosing the Best Car Seat

With many seats to choose from, how do you know which car seat is the right one for you? Here are four top car seat brands that are trusted and consider safe with parents.

1.     Graco Car Seats

With many styles, colours and varieties to choose from, you will be sure to find the right car seat for your little one. Although prices vary depending on whether you purchase an infant car seat, convertible or booster car seat, generally, Graco is an affordable choice for many parents.

When my twins were infants, my husband and I purchased the Graco Snugride 35. We ended up with the Graco 35 because of its lower end weight range starting at 2 kg (4 lbs.).

2.     Evenflo Car Seats

For the budget conscious family, Evenflo has many economical car seat styles to choose from. The Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat is a basic model that’s budget friendly and is equipped with all the safety features necessary for a safe ride. Whether you use this seat for the in-laws or as your main car seat, Evenflo is reliable, safe and trusted.

3.     Eddie Bauer Car Seats

Many Canadians choose Eddie Bauer for their modern design and their affordability. A popular car seat from this manufacturer is the Eddie Bauer Excursion Booster Car Seat. It’s a forward facing car seat and booster seat all in one. What’s valuable about this car seat is that it will grow with your child, making it a great investment for your child’s safety.

4.     Safety First Car Seat

As the name implies, Safety 1st has a history of giving parents a piece of mind when it comes to safety for their child. The Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat is easy to install and is comfortable for your little one when taking long road trips.

Check Your Car Seat Installation Today

As a final precaution before you hit the road, some municipalities have car seat installation checks at certain police stations or fire stations. Find out in your area where your checking station is and book an appointment today.

RELATED: Top Ten Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Family Car


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