Zealous Baby Care

Practical (and judgment-free) advice on caring for your newborn from the baby pros

Common Car Seat Questions

As a new parent, one of the first hurdles you cross after giving birth is transporting your newborn home from the hospital. It is the law that all babies be in safety approved car seats whenever they are in a car. If you do not have a car, it is still recommended that you have a car seat because you will probably travel in a car or a taxi at some point.

Bring your car seat to the hospital before you are ready to go home. If you have any questions or if you are unsure if the seat is okay, you can discuss this with your nurse (who will also assist you in properly placing your baby in the car seat).

If the car seat has a base (most do) then make certain it is properly installed in your car. Police departments and St. John’s Ambulance clinics can be helpful with this.

Remember, babies should be removed from the car seat when not in the car. Car seats are not meant to replace a crib, chair or bassinette. Please note that car seat expiration dates vary by manufacturer.

In Ontario, The Ministry of Transportation requires children to use a rear-facing car seat until the child weighs at least 9 kg (20 lb.).

The province’s Highway Traffic Act allows children weighing 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb) to use a forward-facing child car seat or a rear-facing car seat as long as the car seat manufacturer recommends its use.

Booster seats are required for children weighing 18 kg to 36 kg (40 to 80 lb), stand less than 1.45 m (4’9”) tall and who are under the age of eight.

It’s best to buy a child car seat new.

If you’re thinking about buying or using a pre-owned child car seat, check it carefully. Make sure it:

  • Meets the latest Transport Canada Guidelines and the requirements of Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Act.
  • Meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and displays a National Safety Mark. This tells you that the car seat met all safety standards in place when it was made.
  • Has its instructions and all necessary hardware.
  • Has never been in a collision.
  • Has not expired or exceeded its useful life date as determined by the manufacturer.
  • Has no signs of wear, including discolouration, stress marks or cracks, or worn or torn harness straps.

If a child car seat doesn’t appear to be in good condition, don’t buy or use it.

Common Questions:

What if my baby’s feet touch the back of the vehicle seat?

This is a very common concern of parents, but it should cause them no worry. Children can bend their legs easily and will be comfortable in a rear-facing seat. Injuries to the legs are very rare for children facing the rear.

What do I do if my baby slouches down or to the side in the car seat?

You can try placing a tightly rolled receiving blanket on both sides of your infant. Many manufacturers allow the use of a tightly rolled small diaper or cloth between the crotch strap and your infant if necessary, to prevent slouching. Do not place padding under or behind your infant or use any sort of car seat insert unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer for use with that specific seat.

Why should I dress my baby in thinner layers of clothing before strapping him or her into a car seat?

Bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, can compress in a crash and leave the straps too loose to restrain your child, leading to increased risk of injury. Ideally, dress your baby in thinner layers and wrap a coat or blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps if needed.

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