Car Seat Safety

What you need to know about car seats

A child’s safety is a parent’s number one priority. Whether children are learning to walk, swim or ride a bike, parents are always concerned about their safety.

Driving with your children should be no different. Using the right child car seat is the best way to prevent serious injury. According to a recent analysis of severe injuries of child passengers, 92 percent of infants, 74 percent of toddlers, and 96 percent of school-aged children were not using the appropriate restraint at the time of the crash (Canadian Public Health Association).

Baby in car seat with blanket

Here are just a few reasons why understanding your car seat is important for the safety of your child

When used correctly, proper passenger restraints can significantly reduce the rate of injuries and fatalities in children.

– Source: Canadian Public Health Association

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71%

Car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants under age 1

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67%

Car seats reduce the risk of hospitalization by 67 percent for children age 4 and under

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59%

Booster seats provide 59 percent more protection than seat belts alone

 

The four stages of child car seat use

The four stages of protection are designed to keep your child as safe as possible, given their age, height and weight.

Baby sitting in a rear facing car seat in a vehicle

Stage 1: Rear-facing

Infants and young children should ride facing the rear in an infant seat with a detachable base or in a convertible seat.

This helps protect their head, neck and back throughout the journey, during sudden stops or in a crash.

Stage 2: Forward-facing

Children who have outgrown their rear-facing seat and weigh at least 10 kg (22 lb) may ride facing the front in a child car seat. 

These child car seats have a built-in harness designed to keep your child safe throughout the journey, during sudden stops or a crash.

Young child sitting in a front facing car seat in a vehicle
Young girl sitting on a booster seat in a vehicle

Stage 3: Booster seats

Booster seats are designed for children who have outgrown their forward-facing seat and weigh at least 18 kg (40 lb). 

A booster seat helps children sit comfortably by raising them up so they can sit up against the seatback with their knees bent over the edge of the booster or vehicle seat.

Stage 4: Seat belts

The vehicle seat belt should only be used alone when children have outgrown their booster seats.

Before you transition to this important stage, make sure the seat belt fits your child. The minimum age, weight and height limits vary from one province to another.

Note: It’s important to always look for the National Safety Mark on a seat before purchasing. This is proof that the child car seat meets Canadian regulations and safety standards and is therefore legal for use in Canada. Be especially careful when purchasing car seats or booster seats online.

A child wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle

Child Car Seat Safety

Transport Canada offers further information on choosing and installing a car or booster seat, recall notices, and safety and testing information.

Learn more

Provincial Restrictions

When it comes to car seats, each province and territory may have its own age, height and weight restrictions. Consult the website for your province or territory for more information.