When used correctly, car seats and booster seats save lives and reduce injuries. Children can get hurt if their car seats or booster seats are not used properly. Here are some tips on how to choose or buy the right car seat or booster seat for your child.
There are 3 basic types or stages of car seats for children:
Many seats combine more than one stage, like a larger rear-facing car seat that you can change from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seats as your child grows. It is safest to keep your child in each stage for as long as possible. The rear-facing position is the safest, so don’t rush to have your child move into a forward-facing car seat. Check the car seat guidelines in Alberta for more information.
Buy your car seat in Canada.
National Safety Mark sticker
All car seats and booster seats sold and used in Canada must have a National Safety Mark. The sticker is found on the side or bottom of the car seat. Car seats bought in the United States or another country will not have a National Safety Mark sticker and can’t be used in Alberta. Less expensive seats meet the same safety standards as higher priced seats.
Buy a seat that fits your child, with room to grow.
The manufacturer's instructions and labels on the car seat or booster seat state the weight and height of children that the seat will protect. Make sure your child’s weight and height are within these limits, with lots of room to grow.
Try the car seat.
Place your child in the car seat and buckle them up. If your baby is not born yet, use a doll or teddy bear. Adjust the harness. If you find it hard to adjust, try a different car seat. Since car seats come in many sizes, not all car seats fit in all vehicles. Ask to try the car seat in your vehicle before you buy it. The best car seat for you and your child is one that fits in your vehicle, and that you can and will use correctly every time.
Borrowing or buying a used car seat.
Buying a used car seat is not a good idea. Used seats may be missing parts, damaged, recalled, or expired. And they may not meet current safety standards. If you’re thinking about borrowing a car seat, make sure you find out its history. Any seat involved in a crash should be replaced. There may be no signs of damage, but small cracks or weakened areas can make the car seat unsafe.
Check for safety alerts and notices (recalls).
Call the car seat or booster seat manufacturer, or check their website, with the seat name, model number, and date of manufacture, to find out if your child's car seat or booster seat has any safety alerts or notices (recalls). Recall information is also available from Transport Canada online or at 1-800-333-0510.
After you buy a seat, check for how to
use it correctly.
If you still have questions call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: May 15, 2023
Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.