Child Car Seat Rules Ontario
The provincial and territorial laws state that children's car seats and booster seats (if applicable) must be certified to Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and must be used according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't follow the instructions or if you use them past their expiry or useful life dates, you may be putting your child’s safety at risk and you may be found guilty of breaking the law. People should not use children’s car seats and booster cushions past their expiry or useful life date.
It's best to keep your child in a rear-facing child car seat until they reach the manufacturer's recommended maximum weight and height limits. Some rear-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 20 kg (45 lb.)
Seat belts are designed to protect older children and adults. Booster seats raise a child up so that the adult seat belt works more effectively by properly positioning the seat belt across the child’s body. Booster seats protect against serious injury 3 ½ times better than seat belts alone.
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires children to use a forward-facing child car seat when they weigh from 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb.). This is a minimum requirement. Some forward-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 30 kg (65 lb.). It is best to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the manufacturer´s weight and height limits.
When a child outgrows the maximum height or weight limits of an infant rear-facing car seat, they may move to a larger convertible rear-facing child car seat until the child is ready to face forward. It’s best to keep your child in the rear-facing position until they reach the maximum height or weight limits of the convertible rear-facing car seat.
When children are 1 year old, 22 pounds and have the ability to walk unassisted, they can be in a forward-facing seat. However, the Health Unit recommends that children stay in rear-facing seats for as long as possible because they offer more protection. Watch a video about how to secure your child safely in a forward-facing car seat (Parachute Canada).
Although expiry dates, or useful life dates, are not required by regulation, all manufacturers of children’s restraint systems provide them. Manufacturers indicate (stamp) an expiry or useful life date because over time:
Trained child restraint system technicians will check how your child car seat is installed in your vehicle, help you correct any errors that might be found, and provide instructions on correctly using the seat. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers are welcome.
Harness straps should sit at or slightly below the child’s shoulders. You should not be able to fit more than one finger underneath the harness straps at the child’s collarbone. The chest clip should be flat against the child’s chest at armpit level.
A lap and shoulder combination belt must be used with all booster seats. Your child’s head must be supported by the top of the booster seat, vehicle seat or headrest. The shoulder strap must lie across the child’s shoulder (not the neck or face) and middle of the chest.