8 Things You Need to Know About Installing a Car Seat

8 Things You Need to Know About Installing a Car Seat


When I had my first child 20 years ago, things were much simpler. We didn’t have as many gadgets and tools and pieces of equipment to lug around (can you believe the snap & go hadn’t been invented yet? OR FACEBOOK?).


Nor did we have as many rules and regulations to follow. While we thought we were pretty progressive, we had NO IDEA.


But I was mothering in a time of change. I had three kids in five years and if you can imagine, infant sleeping positions changed three times during that period. Not to mention feeding schedules, developmental expectations….Luckily, we didn’t have the Internet to tell us we were doing everything wrong.


You know what else kept changing, and is still is? Rules about carseats. And it’s a good thing.


When My daughter was two I had our first carpool. The other three Moms were experienced – these were all their youngest children (one of them was the baby of FIVE). I asked them to use a booster for my wee girl and had to fight them on it. Their kids, one of them also two and the others three years old, had graduated straight from their car seat to a CAR seat. It’s not far, they said. It’s fine, they said. But I stood firm. Sounds funny now, but I insisted that my 25 lb toddler use a BOOSTER! I had similar arguments with my kids as they turned 6, 7,8 years old and didn’t want to sit in a booster. I forced them to do it till age 8, even though my youngest wasn’t anywhere near the height and weight requirement.


Seems like a silly thing to fight over. Car seats save lives. It’s proven.


Did you know?

  • Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death by preventable injury for Canadian children between the ages of one and nine (Public Health Agency of Canada).
  • A properly used child seat or child restraint system (CRS) reduces the risk of fatal injury by 71 per cent and risk of serious injury by 67 per cent (Canadian Paediatric Society).
  • Misuse rates range from 44 per cent to 81 per cent for car seats and 30 per cent to 50 per cent for booster seats (Canadian Paediatric Society).
  • Car seats have an expiry date. If it is not listed on the label or the seat itself you can call your manufacturer directly to get the expiry date for your model. Do not use a seat that has been in a crash, or a seat that you don’t know the history of. Even if there is no visible damage, a crash can still compromise the integrity of the car seat.
  • Children shouldn’t be rushed out of a booster seat. The booster seat works to position the adult seat-belt over the strong bones of the body. Children should not move into a seat-belt until they are 145 cm (4’9”). Check your provincial laws around booster seats for applicable laws and restrictions for your province.


Children are the most precious things we haul around in our cars. That’s why Chevrolet has launched their national Safe and Sure Child Car Seat Installation Workshop Program, offering families expert advice on installing car seats into any make or model of vehicle for free. You new parents are lucky. People are so ready to help you. Like Jacquelyn Quirk, a representative from Parachute Canada (Chevrolet’s Safe and Sure partner), who visited my sister’s house to show us how to properly install her 1 year old’s rear-facing car seat.



Even though I’m the Old Mom, I learned A LOT. So I asked her to share some points people might not know about car seat safety, how to get older kids to stay put and strapped in, and how to know when they’re ready to ditch the booster.


  1. Tether-strap: A forward-facing car seat must always use a tether strap. For rear-facing position, check your car seat manual for direction on whether this is a necessary step for your car seat or not.
  2. Mobility: A car seat should be firmly tethered, but can still have some movement. To test if the seat is in tight enough, you want to give it a firm shake at the base, where the seat belt or Universal Anchorage System is threaded. The seat should not move more than 2.5cm (1”) side to side or from front to back. If other parts of the seat move, that is okay- you want to test for that secure install at that belt path.
  3.  Angle: Rear-facing car seats should be at a 45 degree angle, which allows for the support of an infant’s heavy head and weak neck muscles. o   You can check for the angle by following the marker on the seat (if it has one), or by folding up a piece of paper to make a 45 degree angle.
  4. All seats sold in Canada must have a National Safety Mark which means that the manufacturer has met all applicable standards that were in place when the seat was manufactured. If this seat does not have this label, you cannot use this seat in Canada.
  5. Accessories that don’t come with your car seat should not be used. Some examples include: bunting bags, seatbelt adjusters, attachable plastic trays or mirrors, harness strap covers or head support pads. These products were not crash-tested with the car seats and could contribute to injury in a collision or sudden stop.
  6. You should know the history of your car seat. If it has ever been in a crash, do not use the seat.
  7. All children’s car seats and booster seats sold in Canada have an expiry or useful life date on them.
  8. Cold weather: puffy winter jackets should NOT be worn while strapped into a car seat as they change the fit of the straps securing the child in the seat.  The straps may be too loose due to the air in the jacket which can compress in a collision.  Parachute recommends checking the user manual for specific instructions and using layers like fleece where harnesses can fit securely against the child, adding blankets if further warmth is needed.


For older kids, Jacquelyn suggested being completely honest and frank (you know I’m down with that) when explaining why your 7 or 8 (or even 9) year old needs to be in a high back or low back booster until they reach a height of at least 145 cm, notwithstanding their age or weight. Even if it’s embarrassing, even if nobody else is, their safety is the most important. If they argue, well, I’ve always said incentive programs work…


So how to know when you can toss that booster to the curb?


The Five Step Test for transitioning from a Booster to a Seat-Belt

The 5 Step Test for Transitioning from a Booster to a Vehicle Seat



Families and caregivers can sign up for the free workshops by visiting the Safe and Sure website.  Sessions began at Chevrolet dealerships in Vancouver and Toronto in April 2014.  Dealerships in Montreal will begin offering the workshops in late spring 2014.  No matter what vehicle you drive, or the type of car seat you own, parents and caregivers can register online now for their free expert consultation.


Want more info? Visit the Chevrolet Canada YouTube channel to view the program video.


Stay safe ! xoxo Mara







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