Car Safety: Travels With Baby

Car safety is very important. Because babies have weak muscles in their necks and backs, they need extra support when travelling in a vehicle.

For Infants

  • A rear-facing infant seat will support your baby’s head and neck in a sudden stop or a crash. A rear-facing car seat installed in the back seat is needed for baby’s very first car ride, and any other time the baby travels—even the shortest distance—for the first year or more.
  • Make sure the seat fits your baby’s weight and height The rear-facing car seat should be used until your baby is at least one-year-old, weighs at least 10 kilograms (22 pounds), and can walk.
  • An infant wearing bulky clothing may not stay snugly in a car seat. Put your baby in the car seat in normal clothing, and add blankets on top, if needed.
  • A rear-facing infant car seat can be used to carry your baby but don’t use it instead of a crib in your home.
  • When using an infant car seat outside the car, never place it on top of furniture or counters. Babies can rock the car seat over the edge or get knocked off, so place the seat on the floor.
  • The car seat should be firmly fastened in the back seat and should not slide from side to side. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ask your health care provider about using car seats for premature or special needs infants.

For Toddlers

  • When your baby outgrows the rear-facing seat, the new car seat should be installed in the back seat, just as with a rear-facing infant seat.
  • Children should not use a car booster seat until they weigh at least 18 kilograms (40 pounds), which is generally between 4 and 5 years old. Children can be hurt during a sudden stop or a crash if they are using a booster seat when they are too small.
  • Find out about and obey the laws on booster seats in your province or territory.

For All Ages

  • Keep the car seat’s straps over your baby’s shoulders. Adjust the harness so that you can only fit one finger underneath the straps at your baby’s chest. The chest clip should be even with the baby’s armpits.
  • Never leave a baby alone in a car and buckle the child into the car seat.
  • All car seats sold in Canada must be tested to meet Transport Canada safety standards.
  • Seats that were in a car crash need to be replaced, even if they look okay. Do not buy a used car seat. Why? You cannot be sure it was never in a crash.
  • Fill in and mail the registration card that comes with the new seat. Then, if there is a problem and the seat needs to be fixed or replaced, the company will know how to contact you.
  • Read the instructions about safety seats in your car owner’s manual as well as those from the car seat manufacturer.

Install the Car Seat Correctly

  • As many as 70% of car seats in Canada are not used correctly. Common problems include seats that are not tightly secured to the car, loose harnesses, and chest clips in the wrong place.
  • Ask your local public health unit or health care provider where you can go for a free car seat inspection. This service is offered in many communities by hospitals and fire departments.

To Learn More…

Transport Canada:
Canadian Paediatric Society: