Car seat shopping tips new parents need to know

It’s the night before your big purchase.  How exciting! A brand new car seat for your baby-to-be! Before you start matching the seat’s fabric colour to your car’s interior, remember: Car seats are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment you will buy. According to the Infant & Toddler Safety Association (ITSA),  75% of all crash-related deaths and serious injuries can be prevented by using car seats correctly. Keeping your baby safe is a must, and we’re here to help!

Newborns need to travel in a rear-facing seat.  The different seat options for this style of seat are:

  • infant-only car seat
  • infant-child car seat
  • 3-in-1 car seat

Of the three styles, infant-only car seats often fit newborns the best.  These seats come with a base that remains in the vehicle, and usually with a stroller system that the car seat can click into. This makes getting around with your new baby a breeze!

HINT:  Before you shop, check your vehicle manual for information about where to place the car seat and how to secure it to your vehicle.  The car seat manual and vehicle manual both contain valuable information.

Car seat shopping tips:

  1. Buy Canadian – look for this national safety mark as proof.  Car seats without this safety label cannot be used in Canada (unless you’re a visitor).
  2. Purchase your seat from a store that accepts returns. Your car seat should fit your baby  and vehicle like a glove. Read and follow your manuals for installation. If the fit isn’t right, make sure you try a different model or brand of seat.
  3. Universal Anchorage Systems (UAS) are one of the easiest methods to secure a car seat to the vehicle. Most vehicles from 2002 or newer offer this system.  Confirm whether or not your car offers UAS.
  4. Buying an infant seat with a higher height/weight limit will last longer.  For safety       reasons it’s recommended to keep your baby rear-facing for as long possible.  The key to remember here is: Make sure your child fits properly into the car seat.
  5. Check the seat’s manufacture and expiry date.  Some seats sit on store shelves for far too long!
  6. Look for a seat that has multiple rear slots to easily adjust for a growing baby.  A   handle at the rear makes this easier.
  7. Make sure that the 5-point harness system clicks together smoothly at the chest and    between the legs. Can you tighten and loosen the car seat straps easily?
  8.  Check the required travel position for the car seat handle.
  9.  Attend a prenatal car seat clinic if you would like some extra help!

Use this handy car seat checklist to help you keep all the specifics organized!

Learn how to install your new rear-facing infant car seat here:

Congratulations! We wish your family safe and adventurous travels!

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Carolyn Wilkie, RN

For most of my nursing years I have been out in the community supporting new parents on their fabulous and sometimes crazy journey into parenthood! I love working as part of the HaltonParents team. I have 2 sweet boys, who continue to amaze and surprise me everyday. So glad we could connect.
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