Forward-facing (front facing) car seats are designed for older children that have developed stronger back and neck muscles.
While many parents are excited to move their child into a forward facing sear, it is most safe to keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible.
Installing & Acceptable practice for your forward-facing seat
Like all child seats, always install a forward-facing seat in the back seat of your vehicle; you want to keep your sear as far away as possible from the front air bags if they inflate during a crash.
A forward-facing car seat is secured in two ways. First, it must be tightly installed with the UAS or vehicle seat belt running through the appropriate spot in the car seat, Second, the tether strap must be attached to your vehicle’s tether anchor in order to protect your child in a crash or sudden stop.
Refer to your car owner’s manual in addition to your car seat user guide to learn the appropriate way to install the child seat.
Step one: Attach UAS or seat belt
Option 1: Universal Anchorage System (UAS)
Use the Universal Anchorage System (UAS). If installed, your car owner’s manual will show you where the anchors are located.
In regards to height and weight restrictions, vehicle and car seat manufacturers have guidelines that the UAS may be used for. It is important to consult your auto and car seat manufacturer instructions for more information on these limits.
In the absence of these instructions, install your seat using the vehicle belt and tether once your child reaches 18 kg (40 lbs).
In most vehicles, this symbol:
shows you where to find your car’s UAS anchor bars. It will also illustrate where the connectors are on your child seat.
Option 2: Seat Belt Only
Use the seat belt only option if your seat belts or car seat are equipped with a built-in locking feature. Be sure to refer to your car owner’s manual and child seat user guide/manual for reference on proper installation and usage.
Option 3: Seat Belt + Locking Clip
Use the Seat Belt + lock clip option if your vehicles’s seat belts and car seat do not have a locking feature. To determine proper usage, please refer to your cars owners manual.
TIP: Putting pressure in the car seat with either a knee or your hand prior to tightening the vehicle belt or UAS strap will make it easier to get a tight installation.
Step two: Attach tether
Note: Always use the tether strap with forward-facing car seats. Your vehicle owner’s manual will show you where to find the tether anchors.
Route the tether strap as per the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions, attaching the tether hook to the tether anchor. During this process, it is important not to not twist the tether strap (unless otherwise instructed).
Once you’ve attached the tether, ensure there is no remaining slack.
Checking for proper installation
Upon installation, grasp both sides of the car seat where the seat belt or UAS belt is threaded through the car seat. Here, make attempts to move the seat in varying directions. It is important that the sear more no more than 2.5cm in any direction.
Buckling up your child
Make sure there is proper space between the top of your child’s head and the uppermost portion of the car seat. Given the variance in car seat styles, make sure to check your car seat user guide to know how much space is required.
Ensure the harness straps are snug on your child’s shoulders. A good guide for determining the appropriate ‘snugness’ is to slide a finger under the harness at the child’s collarbone and gently pull up and out. In specific, attempt to ‘pinch’ the webbing of the harness with your thumb and forefinger. You will know if it is sufficiently tight when you are not able to pinch the harness.
Take note of the position of the chest clip. The ideal position is at your child’s armpit level. Naturally, ensure that the lock is properly closed.
Your child’s shoulders are a reference point for the harness. Ensure these are at, or just above the shoulders.
When should you move your child from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat?
Keep your child in the forward-facing seat until he or she grows out of it. A forward-facing car seat is designed to spread the force of a crash or sudden stop over the strongest parts of your child’s body.
If your child grows out of their forward-facing seat before they are ready for a booster, there may be another forward-facing seat that fits your child. Note, there are some forward-facing seats made for children up to 30 kg!
Even if your child weighs more than 18 kg (40 lbs) and your provincial/territorial law says you can use a booster seat, your child will always be safer in a forward-facing car seat as long as he or she is still below the car seat’s weight and height limits.