• Are they too loose?
• Rear facing or forward facing, and when do I change?
• Do I need a tether strap, and what is it anyway?
• UAS? Where do I go for help?
• So many different makes and models!

These are just some of the bewildering questions that moms and dads, new parents, and even grandparents are constantly asking.

Plus, we know that you have a frustrating time finding somewhere or someone to check your car seats, and are often turned away or delayed in your search.

In this issue of Family Matters we begin a series of helpful child car seat tips to help you with this important safety process. Remember moms, it’s all about the kids’ safety.

Planning is Important – Don’t Wait

When a little one is on the way, don’t wait till the due date to make decisions about your child’s car seat needs. I have had cases when a dad calls me from the hospital parking lot totally lost because his wife’s in labour and he doesn’t know what to do.

Where to Start – Stages

There are basically three stages and types of child car seats to consider in the growth of your child. Most parents choose an infant carrier as their first stage seat. This type consists of a separate base, properly installed in the rear vehicle seat. The baby is harnessed into a “baby bucket” which is then clicked into the base. Check the weight and height restrictions of the various models and choose one you feel appropriate to your needs. One great advantage is that you can place your infant into the seat in the home and carry them out to the vehicle.

Usually the child will outgrow the infant carrier within the first year, and you will move up to a “3-in-1” or convertible car seat. This seat is permanently installed in the vehicle and the child must be brought out and placed in the seat in the vehicle. One consideration when choosing a child car seat is the amount of space it will take up in your vehicle. When in rear facing mode, the angle required to properly install the seat takes up so much space that the driver or passenger front seat needs to be moved forward so much that adults cannot sit safely or comfortably.

When a child reaches 40 lbs, the third type of seat can be installed, the booster seat. With a booster seat the toddler sits in the seat with no more harnessing, and is secured with a normal shoulder/lap belt combination just like older riders. Boosters can be purchased in low back or high back styles.

Whatever seat you decide upon it MUST meet Canadian standards. Approved seats will have a CMVSS label (round with a maple leaf) located somewhere on the seat or base. Do NOT go outside of Canada to purchase your seat.