You and your baby will go on a lot of adventures together, many of which will be on four wheels. If you’re just getting the hang of how to use a car seat, we’ve got some answers to the most common car seat questions—and a few extra tips to boot.
Q: Why can't I put my baby's car seat in the front of the car?
A: Because car seats and airbags don’t mix. The passenger-side airbag is designed to help protect adults riding in this seat, but if one is released (even in a low-impact crash), the force of the airbag opening can cause serious head and neck injuries to your little one. The safest place for a baby or young child is in the back seat.
Q: How do I know the seat has been properly secured?
A: If the seat can slide, it’s not ready to ride. Your child’s car seat shouldn’t be able to slide more than 2 cm in any direction. If your car is newer than 2002, it should be equipped with the Universal Anchorage System (UAS). Using these anchors may be easier to install the car seat than using a seat belt to secure it.
Never leave your child alone in or near a car.
Even if you’re only running into the store for a second, always keep your little one with you (it’s more fun to show them off anyway).
Bonus tip #1: beware of items in the back seat.
If you haven’t learned yet, infants have a tendency to put anything and everything in their mouth. Plus any loose items in the backseat can become projectiles during even the slightest fender bender.
Bonus tip #2: set a good example and always wear your seat belt.
Baby see baby do. If you go for a ride unbuckled, they’ll eventually think they can, too. Let them know from an early age that it’s non-negotiable.
Adult Seat Belt Readiness and the 5-Step Test:
Once a child is at least 145 cm (4' 9") tall they may be big enough to safely fit the adult seat belt. How will you know? Try the 5-Step Test. Before you make the move to seat belt alone, check your provincial government's requirements.
5-Step Test: If you answer yes to all of the below your child can safely ride in an adult seat belt.
1. Can they sit all the way back in the vehicle seat?
2. Do the knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat?
3. Does the shoulder belt sit across the chest and collarbone?
4. Does the lap belt sit across the upper thighs/hips?
5. Can they sit that way for the entire ride?