Install a child car seat

Child car seats, booster seats and seatbelts help protect children from serious injury. This page will help you make sure your child's car seat is installed correctly.


Rear-facing child car seats

To install your rear-facing child car seat:

Install away from active airbags. For many vehicles the safest place is in the back seat, or in the second or third row of a mini-van.

Install your seat at the correct angle per your instruction manual and/or the stickers or level indicator on the side of the seat or base.

Angle/level indicator on a rear-facing infant seat

Properly installed rear-facing infant seat


If stated in your car seat manual, you may use a rolled towel or a pool noodle to achieve the correct angle.

Placement of rolled towel used to obtain proper recline level.


Use your body weight to tighten and fasten the seatbelt or lower Universal Anchorage System (UAS) through the base or rear-facing belt path.
The child car seat should move no more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) in any direction where the seatbelt or Universal Anchorage System (UAS) strap is routed through the child car seat.

Lower Universal Anchorage System (UAS)


If needed, use a locking clip.
This clip helps secure the child car seat into your vehicle. Consult your vehicle owner's manual to see if you need one with your type of seatbelt. If so, install the locking clip on the seatbelt within 2.54 cm (1”) of the latch plate. Always check the car seat manual as some manufacturers specify the locking clip must be within 1.27cm (1/2”) of the latch plate. Both the lap and shoulder belts must be properly routed through all four prongs of the locking clip.

Lap and shoulder belts properly routed through all four prongs of a locking clip.


Use the harness slots to position the straps correctly.

Your harness straps must pass through the correct slots. Check your child car seat manual for the correct height. Most seats require the straps to be at/below the shoulders when rear facing.

Harness straps at or below for rear-facing seats.


To use your rear-facing child car seat:

  • Make sure the harness straps do not twist or fold. Harness straps need to be straightened out each time you secure your baby in the seat.
  • Adjust the chest clip on the harness. It should lie flat against your baby's chest at armpit level.
  • Secure the harness straps at or below your baby's shoulders. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness straps at your baby/child's collarbone.
  • When using a rear facing seat with a base, ensure the seat latches into the base every time.
  • Each time you place your child in the child car seat, give it a tug at the belt path to make sure it is still secure.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and read your vehicle owner's manual for correct child car seat installation and use.

Forward-facing child car seats

Never rush to move to a forward-facing seat. Allowing your child to outgrow the limits of their rear-facing convertible seat ensures that they are travelling as safely as possibly in the vehicle. Before moving to a forward-facing seat, ensure the child meets all the minimums of the forward-facing seat before using it (note that some seats have a 2 year age minimum for forward facing).

To install your forward-facing child car seat:

Install away from active airbags.
For many vehicles the safest place is in the back seat, or in the second or third row of a mini-van.


Make sure the seat is in the upright position.
If you are turning a child car seat from rear-facing to forward-facing, adjust the recline angle to the upright position. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for more information.

car seats in the back seat of the vehicle


Use your body weight to tighten and fasten the seatbelt or Lower Universal Anchorage System (UAS) strap.
The child car seat should move no more than 2.5 cm (1 in..) in any direction where the seatbelt or Lower Universal Anchorage System (UAS) strap is routed through the child car seat.

anchor point in a vehicle


Fasten the top tether strap.
Using the top tether strap is mandatory in Canada. It prevents the child car seat from moving forward and causing injury in the event of a collision. It is located on the rear of the child car seat and has a hook. The hook is designed to attach the strap to the tether anchor in the vehicle as provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

Top tether hook and anchor in the vehicle.


Secure the tether only to the anchor point(s) provided.
These points are set by the manufacturer. If your vehicle does not have a tether anchor in place, contact a dealer to have one installed.

Tether strap securely fastened to the vehicle’s anchor.


If needed, use a locking clip.
This clip helps secure the child car seat into your vehicle. Consult your vehicle owner's manual to see if you need one with your type of seatbelt. If so, install the locking clip on the seatbelt within 2.54 cm (1”) of the latch plate. Always check the car seat manual as some manufacturers specify the locking clip must be within 1.27cm (1/2”) of the latch plate. Both the lap and shoulder belts must be properly routed through all four prongs of the locking clip.

Lap and shoulder belts properly routed through all four prongs of a locking clip.


Use the harness slots to position the straps correctly.
Your harness straps must pass through the correct slots. Check your child car seat manual for the correct height. Straps need to be at/above the shoulders when forward facing.

harness straps should be at or above the shoulders for forward-facing seats.


To use your forward-facing child car seat:

  • Make sure the harness straps do not twist or fold. Harness straps need to be straightened out each time you secure your child in the seat.
  • Adjust the chest clip on the harness. It should lie flat against your child's chest, centered on the sternum (centered on the chest).
  • Secure the harness straps at or above your child's shoulders. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness straps at your child's collarbone.
  • Each time you place your child in the car safety seat, give it a tug to make sure it is still secure.
  • Avoid attaching objects likes toys, trays and mirrors to your child's car seat. They may have hard or sharp surfaces that can hurt your child if they break off in a collision.

Always allow the manufacturer's instructions and read your vehicle owner's manual for correct child car seat installation and use.

Booster seats

To install your booster seat:

  • Make sure your vehicle has a combined lap and shoulder seatbelt. All booster seats need this kind of seatbelt. If your vehicle has a lap belt only, don't use a booster seat in that seating position.
  • Install away from active airbags. Never place a booster seat in front of an active airbag. Back seat is best, however if this is not an option, check to make sure the airbag can be turned off or have it deactivated.

To use your booster seat:

  • Adjust the lap and shoulder seatbelt. The shoulder strap should lie centered across your child's shoulder (not the neck or face) and middle of the chest. The lap belt should cross low over the hips (not the stomach). Never use seatbelt adjusters.
  • Make sure your child's head is supported by the top of the booster seat, the vehicle seat or the headrest.

proper seatbelt position in a booster seat

Seatbelts

To use a seatbelt properly:

  • Make sure the shoulder strap lies centered across your child's shoulder and the middle of the chest (not the neck or face)and the lap belt crosses over the hips (not the stomach).
  • Never put the shoulder strap under your child's arm or behind their back.
  • Never secure more than one person with the same seatbelt. One person, one seatbelt.
  • Seat children under 13 in the back seat of your vehicle. This is the safest place for children to sit.

Whether your child is in child car seat, or a seatbelt, never dress the child in bulky items such as snowsuits or sports equipment. These bulky items can prevent the harness straps or seatbelt from being tightened properly. To be effective, the seatbelt or harness straps must be snuggly fit to the body.

Use a seatbelt for every trip and teach your child to wear a seatbelt by always wearing one yourself!

If you are having trouble installing a child car seat and need more information, contact your local public health unit. To find a public health unit:

To learn more about child car seat safety or car seat recalls, check online with Transport Canada or call them at 1-800-333-0371.

Multimedia

Installing a Rear-Facing Child Car Seat

Installing a Forward-Facing Child Car Seat for Toddlers

Installing a Child Booster Seat

Recommended for you

Back to Top