Your Child Car Seat Safety Questions…Answered!

Got kids?

Then you’ve likely got questions… Anything from “When should they start eating solids?” to “When are they going to start walking and talking?”

But one of the most important questions you will likely ask yourself is, “Which car seat do I choose and when?”

Good question! Here are the answers to five frequently asked questions about child car seats, collected from our friends at ICBC, BCAA and the folks at Transport Canada:

1. What type of seat should I choose for my child?
The age and size of your child will dictate the type of seat you need. Because your child is always growing, over time you will need purchase more than one type of seat to accommodate them.

There are four types of child seating and restraint systems:

  1. Infants: need to sit in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 12 months old and over 9 kilograms (20 pounds).
  2. Toddlers: need to sit in forward-facing car seats when the child is at least a year old and over 9 kilograms (20 pounds). They should continue to be buckled into this type of seat until they are 18 kilograms (40 pounds).
  3. Under 9 years old: need to be in booster seats with seat belts when the child is under nine years of age or until they have reached the height of 145 cm (4’9″) tall.
  4. Youth: need a properly adjusted seatbelt. It’s the last stage for anyone over 9 years age.
Transport Seal
If you don’t see this sign, don’t buy it

2. Does the seat have to meet Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?
Yes.
Transport Canada says that child and infant restraint systems, booster cushions, restraint systems for disabled persons and restraint systems for infants with special need must be clearly labelled to indicate that they comply with the Canadian standards in effect at the time of manufacture.

3. What about expiry dates?
All children’s car seats and booster seats sold in Canada have an expiry or useful life date on them, even though this is not required by regulation. Manufacturers do this to inform buyers of the potential risks of using car seats and booster seats that may be missing important parts, labels or instructions or have unknown history. Beyond this date, the car seat should be discarded rather than donated to a charitable organization, second hand store, or given to friends or relatives.

4. What is the proper position for a car seat?
The safest position for your baby or child is in the back, middle seat of the vehicle.

  • Do not place your child’s car seat in the front seat of any vehicle with a passenger side air bag that cannot be turned off.
  • Do not allow a child younger than age 13 to sit in the front seat of any vehicle.
  • Make sure a rear-facing seat is reclined at a 45 degree angle so your infant’s head does not flop forward.
  • Hearing a child cry can be hard, but please do not take your child out of his or her seat while the car is moving. If your child needs attention, stop the car, take the child out of the seat, take care of his or her needs, and put him or her back into the seat before the car starts moving again.

5. What type of attachment system should I use?
Vehicles manufactured since September 2002 come equipped with a universal anchorage system (sometimes called a LATCH or Lower Anchor and Tether for Child safety system). This feature allows parents to secure the car seat directly to a specialized anchor rather than use the seat belt for security. If your car predates the attachment system, use the vehicles seat belt to secure the base of the car seat.

So, will your child ever stop sucking their thumb or eating only noodles? We aren’t the experts on that, but chances are pretty good they will. Will you know what to look for in a car seat from here on out? We hope so! Because regulations change, we encourage you to check with Transport Canada for updates. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, let us know in the comments section below and we will happy to help find the answer. Happy trails!

89 comments on “Your Child Car Seat Safety Questions…Answered!”

Leave a Comment

  1. I want to take my grandaughter out in my truck it has two side seats in the back with seatbelts. Can I put her booster seat in one of the side seats.

    Reply
    • Hi Pat – thanks for connecting with us here. Car seats (including boosters) must be installed in a forward facing position to protect the child should in an accident. If you can turn off the airbags in the front seat of your truck, she could ride there with you safely. Hope that this helps! Here’s a link to ICBC’s page on car seats – as they are the authority on this topic in BC: https://www.icbc.com/road-safety/safer-drivers/Pages/default.aspx

      Reply
  2. Can our grandchildren 12 years and younger ride in our 1967 Impala Convertible in the back seat in their booster seat.

    Reply
    • Good morning Judy – thanks for your question. We have two questions for you. 1. Does the Impala have shoulder seat belts? If it does, this would mean your booster seat belts can be properly installed and used. If the car has lap belts only or no belts, the child seats can’t be installed properly and you shouldn’t take the wee ones for a ride. If you have older children (between the ages of 9 and 12 – they can be buckled up using only lap belts in the back for a trip. A booster seat is required until children are at least nine years old or 145 cm (4’9″), whichever comes first. Our second question is – can we come too? Sounds like a cool ride!

      Reply
  3. Hello,
    we have 4 children 7, 3, 3 and 10 months. Our 7 passenger died and all we could find was a 6 seater pickup truck. Could we place the 7 year old in the front on the passenger side in her booster seat, with the airbags off, if the back seats are occupied by infant and toddlers in their seats?

    Reply
    • Hi Kyle – thanks for connecting with us here. The back seat is always considered the safest place for children to travel; however, if you had to take your child with you in your smart car, please ensure that they are in a booster and the front passenger and side air bags are deactivated.

      Reply
  4. Is it okay without a car seat or booster seat if my husband sit at back seat with my four years old daughter? She is 120cm tall now.

    Reply
  5. Help! Daughter giving birth in a week in Vancouver and returning to temporary home in Germany. She brought a brand new German car seat for us to use to transport home from hospital. Now not sure it is allowed. I found a post asking a similar question May 22 from Benny, but could not find your answer. This is obviously a bit of a time sensitive question for anxious new grandparents. Thank you!
    Fran

    Reply
    • Hi Fran – unfortunately – unless the car seat she has chosen is labelled as CSA certified it is not approved for use in Canada. She would obviously be able to use the car seat once she is in Germany, but we encourage you to perhaps locate a CSA approved seat for the travel required in Canada. Hope that this helps and congratulations on your pending arrival!

      Reply
    • Hi Olivia – thanks for your message.

      ICBC recommends that you stay in the back of the car until you are at least 12 years old, as that is the safest spot for you. If you have to ride in the front seat for any reason, please make sure the grown up in the vehicle has turned off the passenger side air bag. Hope that this helps!

      Reply
  6. Can I have my 3 year old in a forward facing car seat in the front seat of my truck with the passages air bag turned off ? Is it illegal ? Or just recommended that I don’t

    Reply
    • Hi Nick,

      If the air bag is disabled, then yes, you can place your child in the front seat (forward facing); however, it is recommended that children ride don’t ride in the front seat until they are twelve.

      Reply
  7. Hi, I’m trying to find some information about the beginnings of car seat safety in Canada and BC. Do you know when it was first required to use a child restraint in Canada or BC? Do you know where I can find this information? Thank you for your help!

    Reply
  8. Hi there,
    My daughter is 10 years old but she is 5’3, taller than my wife! Can she ride on the front seat?
    Is it illegal? Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Fernando. It’s recommended you keep children in the backseat until 12 years of age. All passengers are safest riding in the backseat, but children are most susceptible to severe injury during a collision.

      Reply
  9. I posted the questions earlier. However, everything disappeared after I hit the Post Comment button without the website telling me if it was successful. Did you get my earlier questions? They are concerns related to the safety of a group of elementary school children and I really need your advice. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hello Hanna – yes, we did receive your earlier comment (wordpress holds all comments for review prior to posting). We have sent your questions to our staff in Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement for review and reply. Stay tuned and we will let you know what we hear back.

      Reply
  10. Question regarding traveling in our motorhome with our 8 month old. She is still in the infant carrier style seat. Our front seat has an airbag that doesn’t appear we can turn off(we are still investigating. If we can’t, our table has a forward facing bench with lap belts that are bolted to a metal frame. If we take the table down her seat can fit rear facing here. Is this a reasonable safe alternative for her? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Sounds like you have identified the best possible options with your motorhome set up Alicia – please make sure baby is facing to the rear and in the centre of the bench seat if possible! Safe travels.

      Reply
      • Questions regarding Booster Seats and Chevrolet van used as a “school bus” by an after school care centre

        My 7-year-old kid goes to an after school care centre. This is a licensed group child care centre. There are usually 6 – 12 elementary children in this after school group from two nearby elementary schools.

        Last year the staff walked the children from the elementary school back to the centre, rain or shine or snow. This year, the assistant manager there sent parents an email saying that the centre will use a company’s Chevy van (she attached a picture of a Chevrolet Express from wikipedia) especially when the weather is wet. When asked about booster seats, she responded with:

        “This Van is considered something like a school bus, so no need for the booster seats. However, if you have an extra one, we would be happy to put it in for the entire school year.”

        I am very concerned about the safety of the children after reading that statement.

        A few questions that really bug me:

        1- Can a van be “considered something like a school bus” in BC?

        2- If the answer is yes, is the driver of this van required to have at least a Class 4 Driver’s license when driving children? Is there a limit on number of children they can transport in this van?

        3- Is the assistant manager’s statement correct regarding “no need for booster seats”?

        4- If she’s right – I guess I learn something new. However, if her statement is incorrect, what are my appropriate next steps?

        Your advice is much appreciated!

        Reply
        • Hello again Hanna – our contact at the CVSE has asked that you contact our staff member, Colin Nemeth at 250-318-2083. Thank you!

          Reply
  11. It says “DO NOT” allow a child under age 13 to sit in the front seat. Is this illegal or just not recommended?? The child of course being in the proper car seat or booster.

    Reply
    • Hi Jen. The BC Motor Vehicle Act states:
      Infant restraint systems
      36.04 (1) A child must be fastened in an infant restraint system used in a rearward facing position and specified by the manufacturer to be appropriate for the child’s height and weight, until the child attains age one and weighs 9 kg or more.
      (2) A child who has attained age one and weighs 9 kg or more may continue to be fastened in a restraint system referred to in subsection (1) until, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, the restraint system is no longer appropriate for the child’s height and weight.
      (3) The restraint system referred to in subsection (1) or (2) must not be used in a designated seating position that has an active frontal airbag for that seat.

      http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/26_58_11

      Reply
      • Hello.

        I’m sorry, but I’m still confused by your reply. I too would like to know what is the legal age/weight/height for a child to sit in the front seat.

        Reply
        • Hello Rob,

          It’s recommended you keep children in the back seat until 12 years of age. Children are also required to use a booster seat until they are at least nine years old or 145 cm (4’9″), whichever comes first.
          We hope that this helps answer your question – please let us know if you have any further questions.

          Reply
  12. At any point, would BC or Canada change these minimum standards to meet current research safety standards and support extended rear-facing. From the wording on this page, it makes it sound like a child MUST be in a forward facing car seat from 20lbs or 9 months. I did read comments where it was said it’s safer to rear-face so long as you are in the limits of the car seats specifications for that make/model.

    “Toddlers: need to sit in forward-facing car seats when the child is at least a year old and over 9 kilograms (20 pounds). They should continue to be buckled into this type of seat until they are 18 kilograms (40 pounds).”

    Studies have shown that it is safest for these toddlers to be rear-facing in appropriate weight/height class car seats and should be kept rear-facing until they outgrow these.

    Reply
    • Hello Radhika,
      Don’t rush to switch to a forward-facing seat — these guidelines are just the minimum requirements. Rear-facing child seats are safest for your baby or toddler, as they provide better support for their head and neck, as long as your child’s weight is within the seat manufacturer’s stated limit.
      Use a convertible seat in the rear-facing position if the baby has outgrown the weight limit of the infant seat.

      Reply
  13. Hi there from Australia! We are wanting to know if our Master 4yo requires a child booster seat on public transportation. We need to get from airport to hotels as we will not be hiring a car.

    Reply
    • Hi Rewa,

      Booster seats are not required on public transit in BC, but you may want or have a stroller, which you can secure your child in, just in case.

      Hope that this helps!

      Reply
  14. Hi I was wondering, I just got a 1992 GMC single cab truck that only contains a bench seat. Is it leagal to have my child (2 years old) sit in the middle with his car seat. The air bags are on the steering wheel and on the far passenger side above the glove box. Not sure if they can be turned off.

    Reply
    • Hi Dallas,

      We encourage you to take your truck to a mechanic to see if you can manually override the airbag while your son is in the truck.

      Reply
  15. Hi folks,
    I am trying to ascertain what the status is of European booster seats (with back) being used by holidaying visitors as opposed to child seats? I am visiting Canada on vacation for 3.5 weeks, but because I am doing three separate car rentals, the projected rental bill for booster seats for my three children exceeds 800 dollars. Similarly, to buy three seats in Canada of the standard I have in Europe would cost more about 700 dollars, and would be a waste of money given that I would essentially be throwing them away at the end of the holiday as they are not of any use in Europe. My booster seats are all two years old or less and have ISOFIX couplings which are compatible with LATCH/UAS. Any assistance you can provide in this matter would be greatly appreciated. I appreciate that safety comes first, but money does not grow on trees either unfortunately, and if I thought for one second the use of my European car seats would not work, or would in any way compromise our children’s safety while in Canada, I would not entertain the idea. Thanks for your help, B

    Reply
  16. Hello,

    we are traveling from Australia with our 18 month old daughter. Will our Australian Safety standard car seat be appropriate for use? Are Taxis, buses, or ferries required to have children in car seats for travel?

    Thankyou

    Reply
    • Hello Karen,

      Taxis will support car seats, buses and ferries do not. Only seats with the CSA stamp are approved for use in Canada. You could bring your seat with you, but it will not be considered legal. Here is a link to more information on the regulations surrounding car seats in Canada:https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/road/child-car-seat-safety.html
      You might want to stop and purchase a CSA seat here at Wal Mart etc. to be safe. Thanks for connecting with us here. Hope this helps.
      Our

      Reply
  17. Hello,

    Our Honda Odyssey Minivan is designed to allow for 3 car seats across the 2nd (middle) row. As we have 3 kids we utilize this option however as the kids are transitioning to high-back booster seats they will now need to start using the factory seatbelt latch from the car’s seat belt. This creates a challenge as putting 3 car seats/high-back boosters across the middle row makes it difficult to reach the factory seatbelt latch.
    I see that there are a number of seat belt extenders made specifically for my car which will resolve the issue as it will extend the latch by a few inches so it can be easily buckled by the kids.

    Can you confirm that using a properly labeled “E4 Certified” seatbelt extender is legal in Canada (BC specifically)? I understand the E4 certification is an internationally recognized safety standard that is supposed to be recognized by TRansport Canada.

    Thank you

    Reply
  18. Hello, I have a question regarding the ford ranger with the sideways jump seats in the back. Is it legal for my daughter who is 6 and roughly 50 lbs to be riding on a jump seat with no booster and only a lap belt? I have extreme concerns regarding her safety and the impact if she was to get in an accident in this position, she already says now that she bangs her head regularly and it hurts. But I cannot do anything to force the family member not to drive with her in this manner unless there is a legal issue. If legal any suggestions to make this more safe?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Nicole,

      Booster seats are required for transporting children until at they are at least nine years old or 145 cm (4’9″), whichever comes first.
      Your family member should, at the very least, have your daughter in a booster seat for legal transport and a booster seat requires a shoulder restraint system to be effective. Here’s a link to more information from ICBC on this topic: http://www.icbc.com/brochures/Pages/child-car-seats.aspx

      Section 220 (6) of the BC MVA also states: A person must not drive on a highway a motor vehicle in which there is a passenger who has attained age 6 but is under age 16 and who occupies a seating position for which a seat belt assembly is provided unless that passenger is wearing the complete seat belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.

      We strongly recommend that side facing jump seats are not used to transport passengers regularly or any great distance. These seats are meant for intermittent use at best. Hope that this helps.

      Reply
  19. Hello,
    We have the option to purchase two camper vans- one has side facing seats in the back with lap belts and one has rear facing seats with lap belts. These are both bench type seats.

    1. Can we use these seats for a car seat?
    2. We can modify to add an anchor/tether, could they be used with this?
    3. Should we put the car seat in the front?

    I have seen people use bench type seats forward facing with lap belts and tether. These are VW campers so not an RV as such.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Jess,

      Thanks for your question. We aren’t too sure if car seats are tested for side or rear facing bench seats and we encourage you to check with the manufacturer of your seats to confirm. Our concern about the side jump seat is that any type of collision would distribute the force of impact in a sideways manor which the car seat was not developed to sustain. Infant seats are designed to be backward facing and could be installed in a rear facing position on a rear facing bench but again, we encourage you to connect with the manufacturer of the car seat itself to determine testing on that placement. Anchor tethers can be installed by a mechanic after the fact in most vehicles. Putting a car seat in the front seat is not advised due to the potential force of impact from air bag deployment. ICBC might also be able to provide you with further clarification about seat belts/car seats and legality in RV use in BC. Here is the link to their website for more info and contact information: http://www.icbc.com/brochures/Pages/child-car-seats.aspx

      Hope that this helps!

      Reply
  20. I am very concerned about the height requirement for booster seats as I have bench seats so a child sitting in a booster seat will get serious whip lash in case of an accident as the back of the seat only goes to middle of her shoulder blades!
    She is 4’7″

    Reply
    • Hi Debra,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Sounds like your child still needs a booster seat for a little bit longer as booster seats are for kids under nine years old or 145 cm (4’9″) tall. There are booster seats available with backs that might help provide more head and neck support. Hope that this helps!

      Reply
  21. I am wondering who you enforce using car seats that are not expired. My family member is using an expired car seat and want to contact somone to enforce using a properly dated car seat.

    Reply
  22. Hi,

    My friend’s 5-year-old child will unlock the car seat and set himself free while the parent is driving. Is there any child-proof (lock) car seat that a child cannot unlock the car seat on his own?

    Thanks,

    Catherine

    Reply
    • Hi Catherine,

      Dang kids eh? 😉 There are covers for sale (a quick google search for five point harness buckle cover should do the trick). If that doesn’t fit the bill, they might want to connect with the car seat manufacturer to see if they recommend something. Hope that this helps.

      Reply
  23. Hi first time mom here I have an infant car seat and a 2002 Impala, so I am just wondering if I am correct that the car seat has to be rear facing in the Middle back seat and using the latch and anchor system to be covered in my car?

    Reply
    • The ages provided are rough approximations — the child’s size is what’s most important when choosing a restraint system. Children must be in booster seats with seat belts until they have reached the height of 145 cm (4’9″) tall.

      Reply
  24. Hi there,
    I’m wondering if it is legally safe to use those half moon cushions around my babies neck while in the carseat to prevent her head from going in a sideways position hen she is asleep

    Reply
    • Hi Jasmin,

      Transport Canada is the agency responsible for car seat standards and regulations. There is also a lot of information about child car seats from the BC Automobile Association and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). None of it says anything about using a cushion around the baby’s neck. This leads me to believe there is nothing illegal about using these cushions around your baby’s neck. I suggest you contact one or all of these agencies, should you wish to confirm that there are no safety concerns with the cushions: HealthlinkBC call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. BCAA 1-877-247-5551 or email roadsafety@bcaa.com. Transport Canada – 1-800-333-0371.

      Reply
  25. I have visitors coming from England with their children. Are they allowed to use their car seats here if just visiting? Or they must purchase Canadian ones?

    Reply
    • No, unfortunately not. Car seats must be clearly labelled showing it complies with Canadian standards. There are rental options available.

      Reply
  26. Hi there!
    Im just wondering about rules/regulations regarding old cars and the use of booster seats. We have a 1969 vehicle equipped with adjustable lap belts, which I understand cannot be used with booster seats. Do I just seatbelt my child in or..?

    Reply
    • Hi Tammy,

      If there is a seat belt in the car it should be used to secure the car seat. If this is just a simple base only booster seat, simply secure the belt around the lap of the child on the booster and tighten it. Hope that this helps.

      Reply
  27. My friend from California will be visiting me this summer. She will be bringing 2 children (ages 3 and 1) with her, together with the two car seats she purchased and now using in California (meets USA and California safety standards). Is it legal to use those car seats here in British Columbia and Alberta?

    Reply
    • Hello Alfredo,

      We suggest you review the information on the Canadian federal transportation site regarding your question. We found the following information there:

      The regulations were rewritten to align with the United States on many issues and to incorporate some new and unique Canadian testing requirements.

      The differences between the Canadian and U.S. regulations include:

      The need for labels, information, and instructions to be provided in both of Canada’s official languages;
      The minimum weight requirement to use a booster seat remains at 18kg (versus 13.6 kg in the U.S.);
      The mandatory use of a tether strap for front-facing child seats;
      A mandatory inversion test for both infant and child seats;
      A unique booster deflection test;
      The lap/shoulder seat belt testing requirement for all types of car seats;
      The extension of the limitation on rebound to all rear facing child seats; and
      Energy absorbing material requirements.

      Here is the website for more information: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safedrivers-childsafety-notices-2007c09-menu-353.htm?campaign=Twitter-eng&WT.mc_id=19ci4

      Reply
  28. Is a carseat needed when I drive my friends and their toddler in my car? My friends do not have a car and they don’t have a carseat and neither do I.

    Reply
  29. I have a 3 in 1 convertible car seat and am currently switching it to the booster seat setting. Yes my son meets all requirements. But I am wondering why as a rear facing seat it uses the UAS and as a forward seat it uses the UAS but as a booster seat my manual clearly states not to use UAS. Does anyone know why this is? It makes more sense to me that it be securely fastened to my seat!

    Reply
    • Hello again Martin,

      We spoke with the maintenance contractor for North Island and here is what they shared with us about the liquid spray used:
      Anti-Icing liquid chemicals are applied in advance of a forecasted event in order to maintain surface traction through the stages of the event. Anti-icing chemicals also assist in the prevention of the formation of BLACK ICE or a bond between the surface and compact snow. Anti-icing liquid is also applied to a bare, dry or damp road surface in advance of a predicted weather event (storm, black ice, frost, ect.). The use of this procedure and application rates are dependent upon various forecasted weather factors such as: temperatures, precipitation types, accumulation, dew point, ect.

      Sodium chloride brine is the product used for anti-icing. The optimum brine solution is 23.7% NaCl to water. NaCl brine is generally used at pavement temperatures of -6 C and above. There are circumstances where brine may be applied in special situations with lower surface temperatures.

      We hope that this helps, please let us know if you have any other questions. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Tethering your car seat in the rear facing direction depends on the model of the infant carrier and the vehicle you will be using. In order to use an infant carrier in the rear facing position, the carrier must come with a tether strap and D ring which will anchor to the floor under the seat which the infant seat rests behind. Here is a great blog with more info: http://carseatblog.com/12749/how-to-use-a-rear-facing-tether/

      Hope that this helps!

      Reply
    • While there is no legislated age restriction for sitting in the front seat in B.C., Transport Canada recommends that kids 12 and under sit in the backseat.

      Reply
  30. Car Seat Question

    I sell for Toyota and have a customer with 5 children (age 7 and younger) and wants to buy a 2014 Toyota Sienna van.

    The Toyota Sienna comes with 3 LATCH positions (2 centre row and 1 in the middle of the third row).

    What is the legal and safest manner to add 2 addtional car seat positions? Top tethers would need to be installed. The seat belts are still the locking, retracting type used previous to the invention of the LATCH system.

    What vehicles in the Canadian marketplace are capable of legally and safely carrying 5 child car seats?

    Thank you for your investigation and answers to these questions.

    James

    Reply
    • Hi James,

      Car seats secured without the LATCH system (with locking/retracting seatbelts) are legal and safe in Canada. The LATCH system does provide the added security, but for the older children (7 year old) who are likely in a booster seat, a tether is not required. Those seats will use a shoulder restraint in the traditional manner. If the customer has all five children in infant seat/convertible seats and wants to have additional tethers installed in their vehicle, we would likely direct them to a dealer/mechanic such as yourself to make those adjustments.

      Here is more information from Transport Canada:http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safedrivers-childsafety-car-time-stages-1083.htm

      Hope that this helps!

      Reply