It will likely come as no surprise that it is critically important to choose the right child car seat – and right stage car seat – for your child.
From a regulatory point of view,each Canadian Province and Territory has it’s own restrictions for child car seat and booster seat use. Further, Your brand and model of child car seat will have its own restrictions and use guide.
Introduction to Stages
In Canada, there are four stages of car seat / seat belt use for your child. All car seats are different. With respects to height and weight guidelines, you will need to check the manufacturer’s manual along with labels on the child seat itself.
It should be noted that some child car seats fit more than one stage. Regardless, It is generally advised to keep your child in each stage of car sear for as long as possible more maximum safety.
Stage 1. Rear Facing Seats
Rear-facing seats are typically placed at a 45-degree angle keeping your baby’s head supported. This also makes it more comfortable for the baby and to breathe. The snug harness will keep your baby safe in a sudden stop or crash.
As mentioned, keep your child in the rear-facing seat for as long as possible provided they are still in the weight/height range of the seat.
Stage 2. Forward Facing Seats
Forward-facing seats have harness straps that are similar to, but more narrow than a vehicle seat belt and are designed to fit children’s smaller shoulders.
Provided your child is still in the weight/height range of the seat itself, you can still safely use a forward facing child seat.
Stage 3. Child Seats
Higher back seats are intended to bridge the gap between the front facing toddler seat and the booster. Typically these seats allow for more mobility while keeping your child safe, and often will utilize the vehicles seat belt system.
Stage 4. Booster Seats
Booster seats are designed to allow traditional shoulder style seat belt use by children who have outgrown forward facing car seats. The booster seat positions a child in such a way that the seat belt fits properly over the child’s lap and shoulder, safety securing him or her in the event of an accident.
At this time, your child should be ready for a seat-belt.
It is a good idea to register your new seat with the manufacturer. It is also important to replace the seat if it is damaged, expired, or was in a car involved in a collision.