If you have read the Wheels.ca article about Infant Car Seats then you are aware there are four stages of child car seat use.
This article highlights Stage Two – Forward Facing Car Seats & Stage Three – Booster Seats, and outlines handy tips and important material to help you navigate the installation process. As mentioned before, it’s important to do your own research when it comes to children’s safety, but consider this an informative starting point with information taken from Transport Canada.
Forward facing car seats are required once children have outgrown their infant rear-facing seats (typically used by kids ranging from 22 – 50 lbs. and at least until age two). It is advised to keep children in rear-facing seats as long as possible provided they still fit within the weight and height range.
The forward-facing car seats, used for children 40 – 65 lbs., should get them through the preschool years and are used with a harness. It’s important to follow you car manufacturer’s guidelines when installing them and consider taking a car seat clinic. There are three options when installing your forward facing car seat. It is important to use the method that keeps your car seat secured as tightly as possible.
Universal Anchorage System (UAS)
You can install your car seat with this method once the child reaches 40 lbs. If you have a UAS in your car it is advisable to use it when securing your car seat. Check your owner’s manual and look for the car seat symbol to help you find the UAS anchor bars and the connectors on the car seat. Refer to Transport Canada for more information on forward-facing car seat installation.
Seat Belt Only (With car seat)
If your car seat has a built-in locking feature you can use this option.
Seat Belt and Locking Clip
This is used when your car and seat belts do not have a locking feature.
(Attaching the tether)
Forward-facing car seats must be attached with a tether strap. If you can’t find the tether anchors check your owners manual. According to Transport Canada guidelines, nothing should interfere with this tether strap and if installed correctly the car seat should not be able to move in either direction more than an inch. If it’s loose you can use your body weight to tighten the straps.
You are probably already a pro if you have buckled in a child using a rear-facing seat for the past two years using a harness. This harness works in the same way and be sure the straps are at or just above the child’s shoulders. Refer to Transport Canada for correct positioning of head, shoulders, and chest, and always ensure the back of the seat extends up past the child’s ears.
Children can use forward-facing car seats until they outgrow them, but remember that car seats have expiry dates, so if this seat has already been used by another child check the dates on the seat. Once children no longer require forward-facing seats it’s time to move on to booster seats. But keep in mind, before moving to a booster seat children should also be mature enough for this new upgrade and be able to sit properly, usually at about seven or eight years old. For example, if they are going to push the shoulder belt off to reach for toys while you are driving, they should stay in their forward facing car seat for now.
Booster seats are designed to position children safely in the back seat of the car with the seat belt properly located on their lap and shoulder. It is important to refer to the car owner’s manual when installing booster seats, as there are different ways this can be done. The end result should ensure the lap and shoulder belts are properly in place across children’s hips, chest and shoulders. On the Transport Canada website they advise the correct method to buckle up your child safely in their booster seat, including always using a lap belt and shoulder belt. The lap belt should never be on the child’s stomach, but sit snugly on their hips, and the shoulder belt should rest centered on their shoulder, not on their neck or arm. Children can use booster seats until they outgrow them, at which point they can switch to Stage Four – seat belts.