If you have little ones to transport, keeping them safe should be a top priority. This means choosing and correctly using the right car seat, booster seat or seat belt.
Rules and restrictions vary slightly in each province and territory. But there are some general guidelines regarding which type of restraint should be used for each stage of a child's life. There are also rules about how seats are installed and when they should be replaced.
Selecting the Right Car Seat or Booster Seat for a Child
The correct car seat or booster for any child should be chosen based on several factors. The child's age, weight and height should be taken into consideration when any seat is purchased. And while older, taller children are permitted to use regular seat belts, this transition shouldn’t be rushed. In fact, experts advise parents to keep their children in car seats and boosters for as long as possible.
If traveling in a vehicle, infants should be placed in rear-facing car seats until that are at least one year old and weigh 10 kg. Even if a baby is older than one, they should still be in this type of seat until they reach the recommended weight limit. In fact, because this is the safest way for a child to ride in a car, there are now rear-facing seats that can be used with children who weigh up to 20 kg.
When a toddler outgrows their rear-facing seat, they are permitted to ride in a forward-facing car seat. When this transition happens, parents and caregivers should take extra care to make sure that the new seat is installed correctly. Forward-facing seats should be used in vehicles until children weigh at least 18 kg. And these types of seats are now available for kids who weigh as much as 30 kg to accommodate larger toddlers.
Preschool- and School-Aged Children
After a child weighs 18 kg or more, they may be moved into a belt-positioning booster seat. These seats will elevate a seated child to the point where a car's seat belt will fit them properly. And while it may be tempting to allow taller children to ride without a booster seat, this is not advised.
In most provinces, children are required to use boosters until they weigh at least 36 kg and are 145 cm tall. Also, it is strongly recommended that no child who is below the age of 13 should ever be allowed to ride in the front seat of a car.
Other Things to Know about Car Seats and Boosters
In addition to buying the appropriate seat and installing it correctly, there are other important things to know:
Finally, before buying a seat, it's a good idea to complete the safety checklist provided by Transport Canada.
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