Car seat safety

A properly used child car seat can reduce the chance of a child being hurt or killed in a crash.

Only 1 in 5 car seats is used correctly. Is yours?

By law (Ontario), drivers must make sure that their passengers under 16 years of age are secured properly in a child car seat or booster seat, or by a seat belt.

Installing and using a child car seat is not always easy. To help, the Health Unit offers free car seat checks.

Getting started

Before trying to install a seat, read your car seat instruction manual and your vehicle owner’s manual. This will save you time, frustration, and help you make sure the seat is installed correctly and safely.

Types of car seat (3 main stages):

1. Rear-facing seats:

At this stage, there are 2 designs—infant only seats and convertible seat, which are larger. Until children are 1 year old, 22 pounds AND have the ability to walk without help, they must always face the rear of the vehicle. Keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible: well past 1 year old. Watch a video about how to secure your baby in a rear-facing seat and correctly install it in your vehicle (Parachute Canada).

2. Forward-facing seats:

When children are 1 year old, 22 pounds and have the ability to walk unassisted, they can be in a forward-facing seat. However, the Health Unit recommends that children stay in rear-facing seats for as long as possible because they offer more protection. Watch a video about how to secure your child safely in a forward-facing car seat (Parachute Canada).

3. Booster seats:

The booster seat helps to keep the vehicle’s seat belt in the correct position across a child’s shoulder, middle of the chest and over the hips. Watch a video to see if your child is ready for a booster seat (Parachute Canada).

Getting your seat checked: free clinics

Trained child restraint system technicians will check how your child car seat is installed in your vehicle, help you correct any errors that might be found, and provide instructions on correctly using the seat. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers are welcome.

Register to have your car seat inspected. This service is offered by the Health Unit and its partners.

For more information:


This item was last modified on January 10, 2017