Rear Facing Car Seats

child car seats canada group 1 rear facing

Newborn Babies have large heads and weak necks which can make them especially at risk for sudden stops and starts.

At this phase, car seats are angled backwards (typically at 45 degrees). Ultimately, A rear-facing car seat will support your baby’s neck in a sudden stop or crash.

Installing & acceptable practices for your rear-facing seats

Always install the rear-facing car seat in the back seat of your car, and if possible, opposite a seat with an active air bag.

This way, your child is as far away as possible from the front seat air bags if they inflate during a crash.

Options for Rear Child Seat Installation

There may be more than one way to install your car seat in your car depending on your make, model, and year.

However, all three ways listed below are safe.  Be sure to check both your:

  • car owner’s manual
  • your car seat user guide

for more information and optimal installation.

Option 1: UAS

If you can, use the Universal Anchorage System (UAS). Your car owner’s manual will illustrate where to find the anchors, and will detail limitations for their use.

In the majority of Canadian automobiles, this symbol:


will show you where you can find your car’s UAS anchor bars. It will also show you where you are able to find connectors your car 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.

Proper Installation for a rear-facing car seat

Make sure the rear-facing car seat is at the correct angle

  • The vehicle must be parked on a level surface.
  • To protect the child’s airway, make sure the rear-facing car seat is within the angle range indicated on the car seat or in the user guide.

Make sure the car seat doesn’t move

In a crash or sudden stop, your child will be safer in a car seat that is tightly installed.

To ensure your seat is in fact tightly installed, hold both sides of the car seat, but only where the seat belt or UAS belt is threaded through the car seat. Firmly try to move it in every direction. It should not move more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) side to side or front to back.

Note, movement at the top of the car seat is normal.

 Ensuring your child is buckled properly in a rear facing car seat

When it comes to rear facing car seat safety, always make sure the harness is snug when you place your child in the car seat. Though it may look uncomfortable to the child, this will keep him or her as safe as possible in a crash or sudden stop.

To make sure you have your young one appropriately secured, take special note of each of the following:

The Head

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.


Much as the with the shoulders, ensure that the harness straps are snug on your child’s hips.

When is it time for your child to move out of their rear facing car seat?

Most safety experts agree that it is optimal to keep your child in a rear facing sear for as long as possible.  Ultimately  your car seat manual and user guide will tell you the weight and height limitations for a particular car seat.

Note, just because your child has grown out of your current car seat doesn’t mean they have grown out of all rear facing car seats; there may be another make or model that fits your child. Further, it is okay if your child’s legs touch the back of your vehicle seat.

Even if your child weighs more than 10 kg (22 lbs), and your provincial/ territorial law says you are able to use a forward-facing car seat, your child will always be safer in the rear-facing car seat as long as he or she is still below the car seat’s weight and height limits and fits in the car seat correctly.