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Car Seat Safety

Securing your baby in their car seat and installing the car seat in your vehicle may seem like a challenging task if you have never done this before. Resources are available to help you.


Baby’s first car seat

Your newborn must be transported in a rear-facing car seat.

  • Rear-facing car seats are safest for children. In a crash, they offer the best protection for your baby’s developing head, neck and spine.
  • Choose a seat that is rear facing only, or a convertible seat that can continue to fit your growing child, if it is compatible with your vehicle (e.g. does not touch the back of your vehicle seat).
  • The longer your child can sit rear-facing, the safer it is for them, if they still meet the height and weight specifications for the seat. Do not rush!


Before using a car seat

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly and consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
  • Ensure the car seat has the Canadian National Safety Mark.
  • Check the expiry date.
  • Register the car seat with the manufacturer (mail-in card or online) so you can be contacted in the case of a recall.


Want to use a used car seat?


Securing your baby in the car seat

Practice before transporting your infant in their car seat for the first time. Use a doll or a friend’s baby!

  • Dress baby in regular clothing and use blankets or a shower cap-type cover for warmth. Extra bulk under the seat straps interferes with seat function.
  • Harness straps lay flat at the level of baby’s shoulders or just below.
  • Tighten straps snug enough that a fold of the strap cannot be pinched up, or that more than one finger fits under the strap at the collarbone.
  • Chest clip at baby’s armpit level. Remove harness strap covers.


Securing the car seat in your vehicle

  • Choose back seats where there is no active airbag.
  • Use the Universal Anchorage System or seatbelt.
  • Once secured, the car seat should not wiggle more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) side to side.
  • Check manufacturer’s instructions to tell if the seat is at the correct angle, how to make an adjustment and how the seat handle should be positioned.


To view a video about fitting your baby in the car seat or book a Car Seat Consultation: https://www.lhsc.on.ca/trauma/car-seat-education


References and Additional Information 

Government of Canada. (2019). Choosing a child car seat or booster seat. https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-transportation/child-car-seat-safety/choosing-child-car-seat-booster-seat

Ontario Ministry of Transportation. (2023). Choosing a child car seat. https://www.ontario.ca/page/choosing-child-car-seat

Parachute Canada. (2023). Car seats. https://parachute.ca/en/injury-topic/car-seats/



Kessa Dunlop, WFN-4 student for the Middlesex-London Health Unit


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