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Car Seat 101: Everything You Need to Know as a First-Time Parent

When expecting a child, families receive gifts like clothing, blankets, and various items to care for their new bundle of joy. However, the most important item you need to bring your newborn home from the hospital is a regulated car seat. With such a vital item, it’s important to debunk the common misconceptions about car seats to ensure your little one is safe on your travels. First, we need to address some common myths about car seats. 

 

Myth 1: A Car Seat Is Just a Car Seat.

 

One of the biggest misnomers of the new car seat purchaser is that it does not matter which car seat you purchase. One may figure as long as a child is buckled in, they are safe. This could not be further from the truth. There are different car seats designed for infants, toddlers, and those graduating to a standard seatbelt. 

 

 

Myth 2: It Does Not Matter Where a Child Sits as Long as They are Buckled.

 

Some new parents may feel the need to keep a close eye on their child and place a child in a car seat in the front seat with them. This is the most dangerous place for them to be in the event of a car accident. Car seats are designed for a specific location and are to be harnessed to a seat in a particular fashion. The force of a front seat airbag can be harmful, even fatal, to a child in a car seat.

 

Myth 3: All Car Seats Are Safe. 

 

Did you know that even a car seat has an expiration date? If you pass down your car seat from an older child or purchase it secondhand, this is important to be aware of before reusing a car seat in your family.

 

With these myths debunked, let us tell you how to keep your child safe while driving on Ontario roads. 

 

The Truth about Car Seats 

 

Car seats are designed to keep a child safe but, if they are not used properly they cannot do their job. Here are 4 truths about car seat safety so you can protect your child the next time you get behind the wheel. 

 

Truth #1: The Type of Car Seat You Use Will Depend on Your Child

 

When you begin your car seat shopping, you will discover car seats go through four stages, from infant to no car seat. Seat type will initially depend on a child’s age, but height and weight are more of a factor than age. 

 

Truth #2: Where You Place Your Seat Matters

 

After the proper seat type has been determined for your child, now it needs to place it inside your vehicle. As we learned from the earlier myth, placement is crucial. Each car seat will have instructions on the proper placement, while some will have a bubble level on the side to help you install it properly. If not, follow the instruction manual it comes with. 

 

There is a difference between forward and rear-facing seats. You will also find two-in-one seats that convert from rear to forward. Nowadays, many car seats come with anchor bars under the passenger seats. This is where you will connect a convertible base via a clip. Then your rear-facing seat will eventually become your forward-facing seat as your child ages. Seats are created in this fashion to protect a child’s head and neck while the vehicle moves. Continue to follow age instructions as to when to convert the seat.   

 

Truth #3: The Brand of a Car Seat Matters

 

Everyone wants a bargain in the age of online shopping. Most people will find the cheapest deal and click to buy before they miss out. While this may not happen as much with something as important as a car seat for your infant, pricing could impact a decision-making process. It is important to understand not all car seats are made alike, especially from a manufacturer you are not too familiar with. 

 

You also need to look for the National Safety Mark. It is illegal to sell a car seat without this mark however it does not mean you won’t come across one. This is also why purchasing new with all original packaging is essential.  

 

Bonus Tip: When you purchase a car seat, always buy new. It is the safest way to ensure you have the best quality, and it meets Canada Transportation safety standards. Old seats can wear and cannot guarantee a child’s safety. 

 

Truth #4: Just Because Your Child Is Older, It Does Not Mean They Do Not Need a Car Seat

 

The time will come when your infant will feel they no longer need their “baby seat” as they have been in a booster seat, can get in and out of the car and buckle themselves in. If you read the table above, you will see eight years old is about the time one will make this transition. However, the booster requirements also add a height requirement to graduate. If a child is under 4’9”, they can not move into a seat belt only. This is a safety issue, as the strap must properly rest across the chest. 

 

Bonus Tip: There are fines for not following seatbelt laws. If a child under 16 is found without a seatbelt or a child under 8 is not properly secured, the driver can be fined $240 and earn two demerit points on their driving record.

 

Be sure to stay informed of any product recalls, as they are common with products such as infant car seats. These up-to-date recalls can be found where you purchased the item, on the manufacturer’s website, or through Transportation Canada.

 

How You Can Get Started

 

As a new parent, you need to be aware of the best products and practices to carry your child and the proper method to connect your child’s car seat to your vehicle. At Duliban Insurance, we aim to provide you with the protection you need while on the road with your precious cargo. 

 

Contact us today. We can provide you with a free quote based on your vehicle and the type of coverage you seek.

 

_

Sources:

https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-transportation/child-car-seat-safety/choosing-child-car-seat-booster-seat

https://parachute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Car-Seat-and-Booster-Seat-Canadian-Legislation-Chart.pdf

https://www.ontario.ca/page/choosing-child-car-seat 

https://www.caa.ca/driving-safely/car-seat-safety

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