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Child Car Seats
(Rear and forward-facing

Did you know?

  • rear-facing is best until your child reaches the manufacturer’s weight or height limit for your car seat in that position. (Some seats go up to 20 kg (45 lb.) rear-facing)
  • forward-facing is for older children as they have stronger back and neck muscles. (Some seats go up to 30 kg (65 lb.) forward facing)


Use this simple two-sided checklist to help you with installation, harnessing and travelling questions (printable)

Child car seat
Child Car Seat Checklist (PDF)

Installation and Harnessing

Moving to the Next Car Seat

Safe Travel

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Moving to the next car seat... "Give them time to grow"

  • Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires children to use a forward-facing child car seat until the child weighs at least 18 kg (40 lb.). This is a minimum requirement.
  • Some forward-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 30 kg (65 lb.).
  • It is best to keep your child in a forward-facing seat until they reach the manufacturer’s weight or height limits. (Adapted from the Ministry of Transportation)

Safe travel... Don’t forget

father and son
  • always follow your car seat manufacturer’s guidelines for height and weight
  • the back seat is the safest place for any child under the age of 13
  • a child should never be placed in front of an active air bag
  • check for the expiry date on your car seat or call the manufacturer
  • if you did not send in the registration card check Transport Canada notices regularly for defect notices or recalls

Travelling tip: loose objects should be secured or put in the trunk. This prevents them from injuring the driver or passengers in a collision or sudden stop.

All drivers must ensure that passengers under the age of 16 are properly secured in a car seat, booster seat or seatbelt. This includes grandparents, babysitters, and visitors to Ontario. The fine is $240 and two demerit points.

Tips on how to install the car seat forward-facing Tips

1. Choose the location

  • Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out where your car seat can be safely installed.
  • In most vehicles the back center seat is the safest location.
  • If the back center seat cannot be used other locations will be listed in the vehicle manual.
  • If the front seat is your only option be sure that the car seat is not near an active airbag and that the seat can be installed correctly.

This is important because the speed at which airbags go off can cause serious injury to children less than 13 years of age.

2. Decide on the seat belt or Universal Anchorage System (UAS)

  • Car seats can be secured by the seat belt or the Universal Anchorage System (UAS). Use the one that works best with your vehicle and gives the tightest fit.

This is important because safety testing has never been done with both in use.

  • If using the UAS check in your vehicle owner’s manual, or with your vehicle manufacturer, to find out how heavy your child can be when using the UAS.

This is important because some vehicles do not allow the UAS to be used for children weighing over 40 pounds.

  • If using the seat belt there must be a locking mechanism in place. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out if your seat belt has a locking mechanism, if it does not, a locking clip will be required.

This is important because locking prevents the seat belt from loosening and keeps the car seat firmly in place.

  • Never use both the UAS and the seatbelt to secure the car seat.

3. Find the correct belt path

  • Car seats which can be used rear-facing and forward-facing will have two belt paths. One path is for rear-facing and the other path is for forward-facing.
  • Use the car seat manual to help you find the correct path for forward-facing.

This is important because using the correct path helps keep the car seat securely fastened to the vehicle seat, and prevents it from pulling apart during a crash.

4. Secure the tether strap to the tether anchor

  • Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find the location of your tether anchor and the recommended path for the tether strap (e.g. under or over the head rest/restraint of your vehicle).
  • If your vehicle does not have a tether anchor, contact the vehicle manufacturer to have one installed.

This is important because using the tether strap and tether anchor will decrease the forward movement of your child’s head during a crash.

Note: It is the law that the tether must be used in the forward-facing position.

5. Secure the seat

  • Thread the seatbelt or UAS belt through the correct path and buckle the car seat into place.
  • Apply your adult weight by getting into the car seat or firmly pushing the sides of the car seat down into the vehicle upholstery, at the same time pull the seatbelt or UAS belt to tighten it.

This is often easier when done with two people.

6. Check the tightness of your installation

  • Grab the top of the car seat and the bottom where the belt passes through, push and pull to check that there is no more than 1 inch of movement in any direction.

This is important because forward-facing car seats are designed so that when they are installed properly, they basically become part of the vehicle. A loose car seat (more than 1 inch of movement) puts your child at risk.


Tips on how to harness your child into the forward-facing car seat Tips

1. Place your child in the car seat

  • Place your child’s bum against the back of the seat.
  • Do not use any additional padding between the child and the seat (e.g. liners or thick snow suits).

This is important because the car seat has not been tested with additional padding in use. The force of a collision may flatten the padding, making the harness straps loose. This could allow your child to slip out and be ejected if there is a crash or sudden stop.

  • Blankets can be placed on top of your child after harnessing as these will not interfere with the effectiveness of the harness in a collision.

2. Place and secure the harness straps

  • Place the straps over your child’s shoulders and securely latch the harness to the buckle between the child’s legs.

3. Check the level of the harness straps

  • Check to be sure that the harness straps sit at or above the child’s shoulders

This is important because it will assist in safely absorbing the forces of a crash or sudden stop by spreading them evenly across the child’s body.

  • If they are below the shoulders, changes will need to be made to adjust the harness.
  • Refer to the car seat manual on how to adjust the harness level for your car seat.

4. Check that the harness straps lay flat

  • Twists or folds in the harness straps will need to be corrected.

This is important because twists or folds will decrease the effectiveness of the harness system and could cause it to fail.

5. Tighten the harness

  • Pull the harness tight, refer to your car seat manual
  • It is tight enough when you can fit only one finger between the harness and the child’s chest after the harness is buckled.

6. Connect and position the chest clip

  • Do up the chest clip and slide it up to arm pit level.

This is important because the clip keeps the harness over your child’s shoulders preventing ejection if there is a crash or sudden stop, and the clip at armpit level helps to allow the forces of a crash or sudden stop to be safely absorbed over the strong chest bone of the larger child.