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PLAYING: How to choose an infant car seat | Bringing Baby Home

How to choose an infant car seat | Bringing Baby Home

There are so many things to do before bringing baby home from the hospital. One thing is for certain, if you have a car, you’ll need a properly-installed rear-facing infant car seat to bring your baby home safely.

3 mins to read Apr 20, 2017

What to look for when shopping for an infant car seat

Be sure to choose an infant car seat that has the National Safety Mark (NSM) on the label. This label certifies that the product complies with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for restraint systems and booster seat safety. Do not buy a car seat that does not have a NSM label.

Did you know car seats come with expiry dates, also called useful life dates? It is especially important to look for this date if you are considering buying a second-hand car seat from a family member or close friend. Materials deteriorate with age and wear that’s why it’s important to check the expiry date. Most car seats are good for 5 – 10 years depending on the manufacturer but don’t use a car seat that's been in a collision regardless of how old it is.

Some other things to consider when choosing a car seat include: whether the car seat comes with an instruction booklet, if it can be installed properly in your vehicle and if the straps are easy to adjust. When considering what model to buy, know that the Canadian Safety Council recommends an infant-only, rear-facing car seat for young infants.

Proper positioning 

Until your baby is at least 10kg (22 pounds), he should ride in a rear-facing infant car seat in the back seat, according Canada Safety Council. This keeps your eyes on the road, and protects him from airbags. Children should not ride in the front seat of a car until they are 13 years old.

Snug fit 

Try the seat in your vehicle a few weeks before baby is due. Fasten the car seat firmly in the car so it’s level; it shouldn’t move more than 2.5cm (1in.) to the front, or side where the belt is attached. Once it's installed, keep the car seat instructions handy - you'll need them later to adjust the seat as your baby grows. And remember to send in the registration card for your car seat, in case of a recall. 

Making baby comfy 

Not surprisingly, your brand-new baby will look tiny in his car seat. When bringing home baby be sure to set the shoulder straps/harness at the lowest slot so that they are level with or below the shoulders. The harness should be snug so one finger fits between the baby's collarbone and the strap. The chest clip should be at armpit level. 

Check it out 

Call your local public health unit, police station or provincial transportation department to find out where your infant car seat can be checked for proper installation. Some hospitals, fire stations and police departments also provide this service.

Here are some links to more information on how to install your baby’s car seat safely:


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