Parenting expert Maureen Dennis shows us how to choose and install a car seat.
There are 3 different types of seats – Infant, Convertible and Booster
1. Infant Car Seat – for newborns
Infant seats like this one from Britax is perfect for a newborn and you MUST have a car seat and have it properly installed before you can leave the hospital with your baby. Some tiny babies have to do a car seat test to make sure they can breathe properly in the car seat for a certain length of time before they will be released so this is something you must buy before your baby arrives and it's a good idea to keep it in the car from 37 weeks on. Remember this seat must be installed rear facing.
TIP: Be sure to check the weight limit and height/length limit of your infant seat. Many babies stay in these convenient "bucket seats" way too long and it is just not safe. And invest in a seat cover to avoid staining your car's interior.
Britax Chaperone, $269.99
2. The Convertible Car Seat
Convertible seats like this one from Britax are a great choice because they are really the only seat you will need from birth so about 5lbs to 65 lbs, which takes you to at least a 4 year old depending on their height as well.
This seat can be installed rear facing and it is recommended that you try to keep it rear facing as long as possible. It can be a challenge if you have older kids and your toddler wants to sit like a big kid too. The earliest you should turn this type of seat around is 12 months and that is if they are also walking, not sooner.
TIP: - Some car seats like The Britax seats are a little pricier for a reason… it took me 4 years of fighting with less expensive seats to really understand the benefits of a really well designed car seat. Little things like they are so much easier to install and therefore are more likely to be installed properly. They have these velcro tabs that holds the harness out of the way when putting your child in the seat. The clip cover bit here that keeps the clips from pinching your child's thighs. Plus it is super comfortable to they are also super comfortable and happy.
Britax Boulevard 65, $399.99
4. Booster Seats
Booster seats have come along way in the past few years likely because it seems kids have to stay in them now until they are 22! No, but close. Kids can move to a booster seat when they are at least 4 years old and are a minimum of 40 lbs. It is safer to keep them in a 5 point harness longer if possible. Make sure that the seat belt fits them properly in the booster seat. It should be across their lap not tummy, not tucked under their arm and across their shoulder not their face.
Sounds funny but it's not, it is really important that the seat belt hold them in properly.
I love these boosters for a couple of reasons the first is they are cool looking, this one from Britax is pink so will be approved by most girls 4 - 8 years old and this one from Clek is the only seat cool enough for my light weight 8 year old son. Not having to fight with your kids to sit in their seats definitely makes life that much easier and more pleasant for everyone.
A few other very cool things about these Clek boosters I love are that the Oobr has a steel frame and adjustable head safety, the seat also locks into the car with the latch system so it isn't going anywhere especially if your child isn't riding in the car it is suggested that you belt your boosters in so they don't fly around the car if you were in an accident.
It also reclines so your child's head doesn't do the neck bob when they fall asleep.
They are also super comfortable with a foam seat to avoid numb bum. The Olli also has this great little travel strap so kids can carry it with them when traveling. My two older kids have carried theirs through many an airport!
These are the seats my kids sit in everyday, we even drove all the way back from Orlando Florida to Toronto and they didn't complain a bit! It was a great trip.
Britax Parkway, $139.99
Clek Orb, $299.99 – $349.999
Clek Olli, $99 - $119.00
5. Safety tips no matter what type of car seat you’re shopping for
Never buy used – you never know if it’s been in a car accident - which makes them automatically deficient)
Borrowed car seats - if you do borrow from a friend be sure to have it checked out by a car seat installer
Check expiry date - car seats expire – they usually expire after 5 years of purchase
INFORMATION FROM TRANSPORT CANADA
Consumer Information Notice - Cross Border Shopping Is Not the Best Deal for Your Child's Safety
Consumer Information Notice
Child Restraint Systems
Cross border shopping may be cheap and convenient, but when it comes to buying a child's car seat or booster seat for use in Canada, Transport Canada warns consumers that it is illegal.
Transport Canada is receiving a significantly increased number of inquiries from parents and caregivers who have either purchased a seat, or are considering purchasing a seat from outside of Canada. The Department is also seeing an increase in the number of reports from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and from certified child passenger safety technicians that seats purchased in other countries are being privately imported into Canada and are showing up at car seat clinics across Canada.
Transport Canada is concerned that parents and caregivers may not know that it is illegal to import and use in Canada a seat that does not comply with Canadian standards. Many consumers are looking south of the border and in other countries for the best buy without knowing all of the facts. Child seats and booster seats sold in the U.S. and other countries do not meet Canadian federal regulations and, under provincial and territorial legislations, are illegal to use in Canada.
Child or booster seats purchased outside Canada, including those purchased online from non-Canadian vendors, do not comply with Canada's Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Cushions Safety Regulations (RSSR) and the applicable Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS), and thus do not carry the National Safety Mark. Every country has its respective child seat standards. Canadian regulations are rigorous and differ from those in other countries. For example, U.S. certified booster seats allow for a lower weight limit than Canadian standards.
The use of non-compliant child seats may not only jeopardize children's safety and pose a serious danger to the public, but it may also result in repercussions such as:
• Confiscation of the seat at the border or after it has entered Canada;
• Fines and/or demerit point penalties;
• Reduced or voided insurance coverage for injury or death; and
• Possible criminal charges and/or civil litigation.
Additionally, if the seat is purchased outside of Canada and a recall notice is issued, the parent or caregiver may not be informed of the recall or have recourse against the manufacturer.
In summary, when purchasing a child seat for use in Canada, parents and caregivers should look for the National Safety Mark label attached to the seat, indicating that the seat complies with Canadian regulations and standards, and is therefore legal for use in Canada. When shopping online for a child seat, please ensure that the vendor is offering a seat that is certified to Canadian standards and carries the National Safety Mark.
National Safety Mark
Transport Canada takes this opportunity to remind parents and caregivers to always use a child seat appropriate for your child's development, weight and height, and to ensure that the child seat is used and installed correctly in the vehicle in accordance with the child seat manufacturer's instructions.
For more information about child seats and child passenger safety, visit Transport Canada's Child Safety Web page at www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/childsafety/menu.htm
, or call Transport Canada's Road Safety Information Centre at 1-800-333-0371 (toll-free in Canada).
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