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Baby on Board: Reviewing Child Car Seat Safety

Child Car Seat
Photo: iStockphoto

I could be remembering incorrectly - but I seem to recall that back in the '70s and '80s when I was a kid, car seats and booster seats were really only for babies. While I know I rode in a car seat as a very young child, I'm also pretty sure I rode in the front seat well before the age of 13. So long as we had a seatbelt on, we were good to go!

Obviously, much has changed around child safety in the car over the last few decades. We touched on the topic of buckling your kids up in our Buckle Up (Properly) and Stay Safe post but with the recent change in Transport Canada's regulations for car seats, we thought it would be worth revisiting the topic a little more in-depth.

I don't have kids myself, so most of this was news to me! Here are a few things I didn't know about child safety seats:

1. If you live in Canada, it's illegal to use a car seat from the United States or any other country. I love a little cross-border shopping - but even though the latest federal budget will now allow us to bring back more goods from the U.S. every time we visit, you should still not buy your car seat there. According to Transport Canada, car seats purchased from non-Canadian vendors don't comply with Canada's Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Cushions Safety Regulations  and could pose a risk to your child's safety.

2. Buckling them in wearing a bulky winter coat can increase the likelihood of your child being ejected from their seat. Even if you strap them in tightly, bulky clothing - like a down parka - can be compressed on impact, creating slack in the harness and making it possible for the child to slip out of the seat in an accident. To make sure the harness operates the way it's supposed to, it's best to dress your kid in something that doesn't compress (like fleece) and then, if they're cold, tuck in a blanket over top of the harness.

3. If you're in an accident - even a minor fender bender - you need to replace your car seat. Even in a very minor collision, the forces involved may affect your car seat - even if your child wasn't in it at the time. Car seats are pricey but most insurance will cover replacing car seats in the event of a collision.

In related child safety news, we came across this post on the Car Seat Blog about how we all use car seats for babies in cars, but on airplanes, we think it's okay to just hold the baby. Not the safest option! Definitely food for thought for those of you travelling with kids under 2 years old.

To find out more about child car seat regulations and safety, visit Transport Canada and SafeKidsCanada.

- Rose R.


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