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Choosing and Installing a Car Seat

August 5, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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a car seat designed for a baby



A car seat is one of the essentials you'll need for your new baby.

Here's some advice on choosing and installing the right seat, the right way.

Car seats are required by law and must meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). Be sure to use an approved car seat every time your child travels in a vehicle. When buying a car seat:

  • Look for the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards  CMVSS label. Do not buy a child seat in the United States - it won't have this label.
  • Make sure you get the right type of seat for your child’s age and weight. Your child should be in a rear facing seat until 12 months of age
  • Look for a car seat that fits in your vehicle -install it in your vehicle before you buy it. Be sure it's easy to use correctly every time.
  • Look for a car seat with at least two sets of shoulder harness strap slots to allow room for growth. Make sure they are easy to adjust.

Second-hand car seats are not recommended.  If you choose to buy one:

  • Have it inspected and checked for any possible recalls.
  • Make sure it meets CMVSS standards.
  • Do not use a child seat that’s been in a crash or has exceeded the expiration date stamped on the seat. If no expiration date is present, check with the manufacturer.

For more information, call Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371.

Car Seat Workshops

The BCAA Road Safety Foundation offers a wealth of information about car seat safety including "New Parent Car Seat Workshops" That will help you install and use your child's seat. For more information call BCAA’s Child Car Seat Information Line at 1-877-247-5551 or visit the BCAA Road Safety Foundation website.

Correct installation of a car seat is critical for ensuring your baby’s safety. When installing a car seat:

  • Never place a rear-facing child seat in the path of an active air bag. Put it in the back seat. 
  • Follow the instructions in your vehicle’s owner manual and the car seat instructions. They contain important information for safe installation of the seat.
  • Lower the carrying handle behind the infant seat.
  • Maintain the correct reclining angle. The back of a rear facing seat should be tilted to a maximum of 45 degrees so the baby’s head and body recline comfortably. If your baby’s head falls forward, the seat is too upright.
  • Secure the child seat with the Universal Anchorage System (UAS) or with the adult seat belt. If necessary, use a locking clip.
  • If you are securing the child seat with your vehicle’s lap belt, make sure it is long enough to go through the child seat’s frame or over the seat, according to the instructions.


  • When you leave the car for any reason, take time to unbuckle the child seat and bring your baby with you. An infant should never be left alone in a vehicle for any length of time.
  • Never place a car seat in the front seat if there is an active air bag. If an air bag inflates, your baby could be seriously injured or killed.
  • Remove any loose, breakable, and sharp objects from inside the vehicle.
  • Don't leave your baby unattended in a car seat indoors or use the car seat as your baby's place to sleep

Resources & Links: 

HealthLink BC: Child Car Seats

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