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Car Seats Buying Guide

Car seats & booster seats are an important part of baby safety. Learn how to select the correct travel accessory to make your trips safe & fun.


Installation & Tips

Adjusting the Harness
The mechanism used to tighten or loosen the harness can be located in few different areas, depending on the make and model of the seat. On some, the mechanism is located at the front of the seat while others have it located at the back of the seat, so adjusting the harness requires removing the car seat from your vehicle. Also keep in mind that some car seats have a non-rethreading system available to adjust the height of the harness without having to remove the car seat. In any case, think of the difficulty and time involved in adjusting the harness before making a purchase.


Vehicle / Child Fit
Although we generally think of fit in terms of how the car seat will fit your child, it’s important that the car seat also fit your vehicle. This is particularly important with mid-sized vehicles, which can require a more contoured base for a correct fit. And remember, when transitioning the car seat to the next stage, getting a second opinion on how it fits your child and vehicle is recommended. Retail stores that carry the model you bought can provide in-person assistance, as can free community-based police and government initiatives that often run in the spring and summer seasons.


Seat Belt Guides
These handy gadgets can be found on either side of the headrest area of a car seat. Their purpose is to keep the vehicle’s shoulder belt away from the child’s face and neck for both safety and comfort. They are a worthy component to any seat, so be sure to select a model that offers them.


Reclining Positions
Some car seats on the market offer a 2-position kickstand-style mechanism located just under the seat, while others have up-front adjustability with several positions. Keep in mind; the reclined position is necessary with infant rear-facing seats but for older children in forward-facing car seats, the reclining positions are only used for comfort and only if recommended by the manufacturer.


Incorrect Car Seat Installation
Incorrect car seat installation is a major problem in Canada. Before hitting the road with you new bundle of joy, be sure to review this list of most common mistakes:

  • using a car seat that is not appropriate for the child’s weight, age or height
  • using forward-facing car seats before your child is ready for one
  • using the vehicle’s seatbelts incorrectly to install the car seat
  • setting the car seat harness too high or low for your child’s height
  • not buckling the vehicle’s seatbelt properly
  • installing the car seat too loosely or not using the tether strap to secure it
  • not using a locking clip, or using one incorrectly
  • using a booster seat before your child is ready for one   

Car Seat Do’s and Don’ts
complete and return the registration card that comes with your car seat so the manufacturer can contact you in the event of any product recalls or notifications.

Do think about investing in a second car seat base, especially if you have two vehicles. It makes moving your baby’s car seat between vehicles much easier.

Do check the guidelines set out by the manufacturer for height and weight restrictions before using the seat, especially with forward-facing car seats.

Do install your car seat correctly by using the manual that came with it, or by attending a community-supported car seat safety event.

Don’t use a blanket to wrap your child before placing him in the carrier. The added bulk of fabric can interfere with the harness system.

Don’t position the vehicle’s shoulder belt or lap belt behind your child’s back or under your child’s arms. Use the belt guides to keep the belts in safe positions while the child is in the seat.

Don’t use a car or booster seat that has been through any type of accident or collision.