Behaviours – Child Safety Seats

Choosing the right seat at the right time

Child safety involves choosing a car seat that is adapted to a child's weight and height, and installing it properly. 

Types of car seats—what's the difference?

Useful information

Child safety seats: make an appointment to have your car seat inspected

Make an appointment with a member of the Child car seat verification network. Inspections are free of charge.

Choosing and buying a car seat for your child

It is important to consider the weight and height limits specified by the manufacturer, as well as ease of use. A child seat that is easy to use has a better chance of being used properly.

Before you purchase a car seat, it is also important to consult your vehicle owner's manual, consider the space available in the back seat, and check how to install a car seat in your vehicle.

Some car seats are adaptable and can be used at various stages of your child’s growth. These car seats are called “convertible seats.”

There are 3 types of convertible car seats:

  • rear-facing car seats that become front-facing car seats
  • front-facing car seats that become booster seats
  • “3-in-1” car seats that start out as rear-facing car seats, become front-facing car seats and then become booster seats

Rear-facing seats

Secure your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible, from the moment your child is born until your child reaches the weight and height limits specified by the seat manufacturer.

Installing a rear-facing seat

  1. Place the rear-facing seat on an incline, based on the instructions indicated on the seat. To adjust the rear-facing seat’s position, you can place a foam noodle or rolled-up towel under the seat, where the vehicle seat’s backrest meets the seat cushion.
  2. Attach the rear-facing seat to the vehicle seat with the universal anchorage system (UAS) or the seat belt.
    • The UAS or seat belt must pass through the openings of the car seat that are closest to the vehicle’s backrest. Check the labels on the seat to find them.
    • If the rear-facing seat is an infant seat with a detachable base, attach the base first, using the UAS or the seat belt, then put the seat on the base. You should hear a click.
  3. Tighten the UAS or the seat belt so that the seat or the base does not move at all toward the front and no more than 2.5 cm from side to side. If you need to, push your knee against the seat or the base to tighten the UAS strap or seat belt.
    • If you are attaching the rear-facing seat with the seat belt, follow the instructions in your vehicle’s owner manual to lock the seat belt.
  4. If the rear-facing seat is an infant seat, check the seat manufacturer’s instructions to see whether the carry handle must be folded behind the back of the infant seat or left up.

Placing a child in the seat

  1. Thread the harness straps through the slots located slightly below or at shoulder level.
  2. Insert the buckle tongues into the buckle.
  3. Fasten the chest clip at the baby’s underarm level.
  4. Adjust the harness straps as closely as possible to the baby’s body. There should be space for no more than one finger between the harness straps and the baby’s shoulder.

The baby's feet can safely touch the backrest of the vehicle's seat and the legs may be slightly bent.

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Siège orienté vers l’arrière

(rear-facing seat) (in French only)

Transcript :

Rear-facing seats: for how long?

Given that children are safer in rear-facing car seats, it is recommended that they be used as long as possible.

You can secure your child in a front-facing seat once he or she:

  • is at least 1 year old
  • weighs more than 10 kg (22 lbs)
  • can maintain an upright position on his or her own

That being said, you should ideally keep using the rear-facing child seat as long as your child does not exceed the weight or height limits indicated by the seat manufacturer. You must ensure, however, that the space between the top of the baby’s head and the top of the rear-facing seat is at least 2.5 cm.

Special precautions for infants

Infant seats should be used only for travelling with an infant in a vehicle.

Car seats should never be used as cribs, because they are not safe for sleeping.

During the first few months of life, an infant should not be left sitting in a car seat for trips lasting more than one hour at a time.

If you are making a long car trip, take frequent breaks to change positions and to hold the baby in your arms.

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Front-facing child seats

Installing a front-facing car seat

  1. If the seat has a recline mechanism, make sure that it is inclined in the recommended position for the installation of a front-facing seat.
  2. Secure the seat with the UAS or the seat belt.
    • The UAS or seat belt must pass through the openings of the car seat that are closest to the vehicle’s backrest. Check the labels on the seat to find them.
  3. Attach the tether strap to the vehicle’s anchorage point.
  4. Tighten the UAS or the seat belt so that the seat does not move at all toward the front and no more than 2.5 cm from side to side. If you need to, push your knee against the seat to tighten the UAS strap or seat belt.
    • If you are attaching the seat with the seat belt, follow the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual to lock the seat belt.
      Once it is locked, pull the seat belt to secure the seat.
    • Tighten the tether strap.

You should also check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out how much weight the UAS and the tether strap anchorage point can support. If the combined weight of the seat and child surpasses the UAS weight limit, the child seat can usually be secured with the seat belt instead.

Placing a child in the seat

  1. Make sure that the harness straps are threaded through the slots located at or slightly above the child’s shoulder level.
  2. Insert the buckle tongues into the buckles.
  3. Fasten the chest clip at the baby’s underarm level.
  4. Adjust the straps as closely as possible to the child's body. There should be space for no more than one finger between the harness straps and the baby’s shoulder.

By clicking on the video, you will change the context of this page.

Siège orienté vers l’avant

(front-facing seat) (in French only)

Transcript :

Front-facing seats for how long?

Because of their harnesses, front-facing child seats offer better protection than booster seats. It is therefore preferable to continue to use front-facing seats until children reach the weight or height limits specified by the seat manufacturer.

Your child should not use a booster seat until he or she weighs at least 18 kg (40 lb).

Booster seats

The booster seat raises the child to ensure that the seat belt can be correctly adjusted so that it crosses over the middle of the shoulder (collarbone) and over the hips (pelvis).

It is recommended that you purchase a booster seat with a built-in backrest and headrest if the back of the vehicle seat is low or does not have a headrest to support the child's head in the event of a collision.

Using booster seats

The vehicle's seat belt is all that is required to hold the seat and child in place. No additional straps should be used.

Some booster seats come equipped with a UAS, which should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

When the seat belt is fastened, it should cross over the middle of the shoulder (the collarbone) and the hips (pelvis). The collarbone and pelvic bones are best able to absorb the impact in the event of an accident.

Be especially careful when your child is wearing winter clothing! Make sure the seat belt lies across the pelvic bones and on the collarbone. When the seat belt is buckled, it should be snug and have no slack.

Useful information

Never put the seat belt behind the child’s back or under the child's arm because in the event of a collision, the child could sustain serious injuries.

Booster seats: for how long?

A child no longer needs a booster seat when both of the following conditions are met:

Condition 1—When the child is sitting in the back seat

When the child's back is flat against the seat, his or her legs must be long enough that the child’s knees are bent over the edge of the seat. The child must be able to hold this position comfortably for the entire trip. 

Condition 2—When the seat belt is fastened

The seat belt must cross over the middle of the child's shoulder (over the collarbone) and over the child’s hips. It should not cross over the neck or abdomen.

Transitioning to a seat belt

As of April 2019, the law requires that children use booster seats until they are 145 cm tall or 9 years of age.

It is important to note, however, that children are not ready to wear just a selt belt if their legs are too short to bend over the edge of the seat, even if they are 145 cm tall or 9 years of age.

Children who are not tall enough to be properly secured with a seat belt

Children who are not tall enough will tend to slide under the seat belt to get comfortable. In that position, the seat belt presses against their necks and stomachs, which could lead to serious injuries to the spine or internal organs in the event of an accident.

Useful information

Children aged 12 or younger: in the back seat

This is the safest place for them in a vehicle, since they are seated as far away as possible from the points of impact in the event of a head-on collision.