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All you need to know about car seats!

This is a direct reference to Healthy Parenting Winnipeg and their blog post which can be found at

Car seats help keep your child safe in a motor vehicle. In Manitoba, the law states that all child passengers under nine years of age must ride in a child car seat or booster seat.

- Infants must ride in a car seat that is designed to face the back of your vehicle.

- A rear-facing car seat supports and protects the young child’s developing head, neck and back.

- It is safest to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible – up to 2 years of age or longer!

Which car seat should I choose?

There are three types of car seats that can be used for infants.

Infant car seats – These are useful for newborns and babies as the seat can come off the base and be used to carry baby. This type of seat may be sold as part of a “travel system” where the seat can be used on a stroller. Some infant seats have weight limits up to 35 lbs.  When your child out grows the height and weight limit of the infant bucket seat, you will need to buy a convertible or 3-in-1 car seat to keep him rear-facing longer.

Convertible car seats – These are the larger car seats that you install in your vehicle. Convertible car seats can be used rear-facing and then used forward-facing when your child outgrows the rear-facing limits. Look for seats that have higher weight limits so the seat can be used as long as possible.  Some seats have limits up to 40 lbs rear-facing and 65 lbs forward-facing.

3-in-1 seats – these are similar to convertible car seats but they can also be used as a booster seat.

Important tips:

Look for Transport Canada’s National Safety Mark on the car seat. Car seats sold in the U.S. will not have this seal and are not approved for use in Canada.Check the expiry date on the car seat.Check Transport Canada’s Recall Database to make sure your seat is safe to use.

Avoid any car seat products that are sold separately from the car seat (head positioners, harness covers, seat protectors). These could affect with how well the car seat protects in a crash.

Are second-hand (used) car seats safe?

They can be. Avoid used car seats that:

have been in a crashare past the expiry dateare missing partshave visible damage or crackshave straps that are warn or frayed

The Child Passenger Association of Canada has a Used Seat Checklist

How do I install my car seat?

The safest place in the vehicle to install the car seat is in the middle of your back seat. If you have more than one child, the youngest child should ride in the middle of the back seat.Follow your car seat and owner’s manual for proper installation of your specific car seat. Some manufacturers have videos online to help you.Rear-facing car seats should be reclined. The car seat instructions will have information on how much the seat should be reclined.When using a bucket seat read the instructions about the correct handle position in the car.

How do I know if the straps are done up safely?

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how you secure your baby into the car seat.

You should only be able to fit one finger between your baby’s collarbone and the harness straps.The chest clip should be at armpit level.

You will need to adjust the straps as your baby grows.

In the winter, you can dress your baby in a snowsuit. Choose snowsuits or jackets that are not puffy and are not made out of slippery material.  Make sure when you are tightening the harness straps that you squeeze the snowsuit so that you can only fit one finger between the snowsuit and the straps.

Keep your baby rear-facing as long as possible –  until she outgrows the height and weight limit of the car seat.  As your child grows, she will likely straddle the seat, cross her legs or find other ways of being comfortable rear-facing.


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