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Infants and children require car seats and booster seats to
help spread the forces of a crash across the strongest parts of their bodies.
For a child to get the best protection from the car seat:
There are 4 stages of child passenger safety. The right stage for your
child depends on their age, weight, and height.
HaltonParents blogs about
car seats (external link)
Transport Canada (external link)
Ontario law for child passenger safety is enforced under the Highway Traffic Act,
regulation 613 (external link) (seatbelt assemblies). The chart below summarizes the
minimum legal requirements for anyone travelling with young children in their vehicles in Ontario.
Car seats and booster seats must be purchased in Canada and show the National Safety Mark for use in Canada. It is illegal to use a car seat or booster seat purchased from another country (e.g., the U.S.) unless you are a visitor.
Note: The law is always the minimum requirement, see
next section for ways to increase your child’s safety when travelling in the car.
There are many different types, brands, and models of car seats and booster seats on the market and it can be very confusing when trying to choose which one is best for your child.
Keep in mind:
Considering a second hand car seat for you child?
If you have an expired, damaged, or unsafe car seat that you want to get rid of, make sure that you take it apart before putting it in the garbage. Cut the straps, remove the padding and dispose of these items separately. An intact car seat that has been put at the curb for garbage may be picked up by someone else that does not know it is unsafe to use.
Infants’ bodies are delicate. Their heads and necks are especially vulnerable and need to be protected from the strong forces of a car crash. Infants
and toddlers benefit greatly from travelling facing the back of a vehicle (rear-facing position). This allows the car seat to absorb most of the force of a collision instead of the fragile head and neck. Because of this benefit, do not be in a rush to move to stage 2 –
Click here for more information about (external link):
Don’t rush! Even if your child weighs over 10 kg (22 lbs), is able to walk on his or her own and the law says you can use a forward-facing seat, the rear-facing position is still safer! As long as your child is still below the weight and height limits of your current car seat, you should use that seat for as long as possible.
Keep your child in the rear-facing seat until he or she grows out of it. Your car seat manual will tell you the maximum weight and height of a child for that seat in the rear-facing position. If your child grows out of your current rear-facing car seat, there may be another type/brand that will still fit your child. Some rear-facing car seats can be used for children up to 23 kg (50 lbs).
It is okay if your child’s legs touch the back of your vehicle seat, as long as your child is still below the manufacturer’s weight and height limits.
To speak with a public health nurse about car seat safety dial 311.
It is safer for your child to stay rear-facing as long as possible. Once they are older they can move to a forward facing car seat. This stage allows for excellent protection through a 5-point harness system that is placed over the strong, bony parts of a child’s body. A top tether strap is used along with the seatbelt or universal anchorage system (UAS) to prevent the head from moving too far forward in a crash. Do not be in a rush to move your child into a booster seat!
Don’t rush! Even if your child weighs over 18 kg (40 lbs) and the law says you can use a
booster seat, your child is safer in the forward-facing seat! As long as your child is still below the weight and height limits of your current car seat, you should use that seat for as long as possible.
Keep your child in the forward-facing seat until he or she grows out of it. Your car seat manual will tell you the maximum weight and height of a child for that seat in the forward-facing position. If your child grows out of your current forward-facing car seat, there may be another type/brand of forward-facing car seat that may still fit. Some forward-facing car seats can be used for children up to 30 kg (65 lbs).
It is safer to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat as long as possible. Children must be at least 18 kg. (40 lb.) to move to a booster seat. Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. Booster seats raise your child up so that the seatbelt fits over the correct parts of the body. An incorrectly placed lap or shoulder belt can cause serious internal and neck injuries to a child. The ‘arm rest’ of the booster acts as hip bones to hold the lap belt in place. Do not be in a rush to move your child into a
Click here for more information about (external link):
Don’t rush! Even if your child is 8 years old and the law says you can use a seat belt alone, your child is still safer in a booster seat!
Keep your child in the booster seat until he or she grows out of it. Your booster seat manual will tell you the maximum weight and height of a child for that seat. If your child grows out of your current booster car seat, there may be another type/brand of booster car seat that may still fit. Some booster seats can be used for children up to 54 kg (120 lbs).
A booster seat should be used until:
Your child should use a booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits correctly. Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. If the seat belt is not worn correctly, your child could suffer serious brain injuries or damage to internal organs in a crash. A lap and shoulder belt offers better protection than a lap belt alone.
Register your car seat with the manufacturer if have purchased a new car seat.
This can be done either online or by sending in the registration card that comes
with your seat. Car seat and booster seat manufacturers are required to notify
all consumers that have registered with them of any defects, recalls, public
notices, or any other potential problems with the car seat you have purchased.
All children’s car seats and booster seats sold in Canada have an expiry or
useful life date (external link) on them. It is also important to note that if you own a car seat or booster seat made before January 1, 2012, under
Health Canada’s Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (external link), you may not be able to advertise, sell, or give it away because it may not meet the latest requirements set out by Health Canada and Transport Canada. For further information regarding the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, please contact Health Canada
It is important to follow both your car seat and vehicle manuals when properly harnessing your child into their car seat and installing your car seat or booster seat in your vehicle. Here are some video clips that will give you some tips:
View car seat videos in other languages (external link)
If you want to increase your knowledge about car seat safety, or if you would like to have your car seat inspected, there are several options in Halton Region.
Safety Drives Us (external link) website includes videos and training materials in
To speak with a public health nurse about car seat safety dial 311
View car seat resources in other languages (external link)
Yes. Price is not an indication of safety. All car seats sold in Canada have to pass the same safety tests in order to be approved. Some seats may have fancier fabrics or accessories like cup holders which may make them more expensive. Use the correct type of car seat for your child’s stage according to best practice recommendations and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your car seat so you have lots of time to shop around and look for sales.
If your car seat fits well in your vehicle when you install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and is relatively easy to install then that means it is compatible. If you can’t get the seat tight enough or the correct angle according to the manual or if it is very hard to achieve these things, it might be best to try a different model of car seat in your vehicle.
Canada and the U.S. have different methods of testing car seats. Car seats used in Canada need to have passed all the tests and requirements set out by Transport Canada and have the (Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) CMVSS sticker to show that this is the case. Only car seats purchased in Canada can be used.
If you don’t know the history of the car seat (for example – if it has ever been in a car crash), it is best not to use it. Also, car seats or booster seats should not be used if they are expired or do not meet current Canadian safety standards. Please note the
Canadian safety standards (external link) changed January 1st 2012. Often times, car seats sold online or at garage sales may not have the instruction manual with them.
That depends, there are a few things to consider when re-using a car seat
that you used for your older child. Before reusing an old car seat ask yourself:
If you sent in the registration card that came with your car seat when you bought it, the manufacturer will notify you if there have been any recalls. If you haven’t registered your car seat, this can usually be done online or by contacting the manufacturer. Otherwise, you can check
Transport Canada’s (external link) website regularly for recalls and warnings.
ALWAYS follow both your car seat and vehicle instruction manuals. Watch
video clips (external link) to see how to correctly install each stage of car seat. Call 3-1-1 to speak to a public health nurse about car seat safety
You need to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if the UAS can be used in the centre seating position. In many vehicles you can’t and must either use the seatbelt in the middle seat to attach the car seat or move the car seat to one of the sides of the vehicle to use the UAS.
No. The seat belt OR the U.A.S. should be used to attach your car seat to your vehicle, not both.
Positioning of 2 car seats (or more) in your vehicle will depend on the make of car seats that you have, whether the seats are rear-facing, forward-facing, or boosters and the make of your vehicle. Please call 3-1-1 to discuss this with a public health nurse.
It is not common practice to tether rear-facing car seats in Canada and it may be difficult to find an approved spot to attach the rear-facing tether in your vehicle. If you do wish to tether your rear-facing seat, follow your car seat manual carefully and follow-up with the car seat manufacturer or your vehicle manufacturer if you have any questions.
Ideally there should be some space between the car seat and the front vehicle seat. Check your car seat manual to see what is recommended for your particular car seat.
Rather than using a car seat bag or snowsuit, it is safer to use a blanket over your baby once she is harnessed in the car seat. Too much padding reduces the safety of the seat and can quickly over-heat a baby. For infant-only seats there are also car seat covers available which go over the top of the car seat and do not interfere with the harness straps.
Your child can bend his legs easily and will be comfortable in a rear-facing position. Injuries to the legs are rare for children rear facing. Follow your car seat manual’s instructions about when your child is too big for the car seat.
In this case, it would be best to move her to an infant-child seat that goes both rear-facing and forward facing. Use it in the rear-facing position until she reaches the maximum weight limit allowed by the manufacturer and then the car seat can be used in the forward-facing position. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
TIP: look for an infant-child seat with a high weight limit so you can keep her rear-facing longer.
No! Don’t rush into the booster seat stage. A child needs to be at least 18 kg (40 lbs.) by law (preferably heavier) to be able to use a booster seat. If your child has reached the maximum height for your current car seat, a combination child-booster seat would be a good option to purchase as they often accommodate taller children when used as a forward facing car seat. Once your child reaches the maximum weight limit in the forward facing position, the child-booster seat can be adjusted to be used as a high back booster seat.
Even though the law says a child who is 8 does not need to use a booster seat, it is better to use your child’s size rather than age to determine if he is ready for a seat belt alone. It is recommended that a child be at least 36 kg (80 lbs.), 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in) tall and have a sitting height of at least 74 cm (29 in) before they move out of a booster seat. Don’t rush!
No. Booster seats must be used with a shoulder/lap belt combination.
Yes. In Ontario, it is the driver’s legal responsibility to make sure that all passengers in their vehicle under16 years of age wear a seat belt or are in the correct car seat or booster seat. By law, your daughter’s 6 year old friend must be buckled up in a child restraint that suits her weight, height and age.
Transport Canada (external link), children 12 years of age and under should always be in the back seat. Most cars have front seat air bags, and these can hurt small children if the bags inflate during a crash or sudden stop. The safest place in the car for children is always in the back seat.
The most common mistakes that are seen are: the child is in the wrong type of seat for their size, the harness straps are too loose, the chest clip is too low on the child, forward-facing seats are not tethered, and the car seat is not installed tight enough in the vehicle.
Transport Canada (external link) advises that infant car seats are NOT cribs or temporary cribs and that infant car seats do not meet the safety requirements for a crib. Babies have been accidentally strangled by the harness straps when they have been left unattended in their infant car seat while outside of a vehicle.
Yes. A car seat that has been in a crash, even if the child wasn’t in the seat at the time, needs to be replaced. Even if it was a fender bender, or if there’s no visible damage to the seat, you must replace it to ensure your child’s safety. It’s possible that there could be some internal damage to the seat that would make it unable to withstand the force or trauma of another crash. Make sure you include the replacement cost of a child’s car seat in any insurance claim you may be filing. Most insurance companies will cover the cost to replace the damaged car seat.
Transport Canada (external link) recommends that young children ride in a car seat when flying, it’s best to call the airline and ask if they have rules that may affect your decision in using a child car seat. A few points to consider regarding child car seat use in an airplane.
Some airlines allow children under the age of two to ride for free on the airplane. In these cases, the child must ride on the parent’s lap.
The information provided on this website is intended to help with the selection and safe use of car seats and booster seats. Under no circumstances should this information be used to replace the car seat instruction booklet or the vehicle owner's manual. Car seats and booster seats are all different and these details are included in the manual provided with them. All provinces have different laws.
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Halton Region is composed of
the City of Burlington,
the Town of Halton Hills,
the Town of Milton,
and the Town of Oakville .