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Child Car Seats

Alberta Child Safety Seat Guidelines

According to the law in Alberta, the driver must make sure passengers under 16 years of age are buckled up correctly.

For children under 18 kg (40 lb) or under 6 years of age the law says:

  • an appropriate child safety seat must be used
  • the child safety seat must be correctly installed in the vehicle
  • the child must be properly secured into the seat

Using a child safety seat properly will reduce the likelihood of a child being injured or killed in a crash by as much as 75%.

Types of Seats

Rear-facing child safety seats

Your baby must be in a rear-facing seat that is correct for her weight and height when in a vehicle. It is safest for a baby to stay rear-facing until at least 1 year old, at least 10 kg (22 lb) and walking. Don’t rush to put your child in a forward-facing seat -- the rear-facing position is the safest. Many child safety seats allow children to stay rear-facing longer.

Forward-facing child safety seats

When your child is at least 1 year old, at least 10 kg (22 lb), and walking, your child can use a forward-facing seat. Keep your child in a forward facing seat correct for his height and weight until he is at least 18 kg (40 lb) or until he is at least 6 years old. Some forward-facing seats may be used with the 5 point harness up to 30 kg (65 lb).

Booster seats

When your child has outgrown her forward-facing child safety seat she can use a booster seat. Children who are under 9 years of age and have outgrown their forward-facing seat, who weigh between 18 and 36 kg (40 and 80 lb) or are less than 145 cm (4’ 9”) are safest travelling in a booster seat. An adult seat belt alone does not properly fit a child’s body—it rides too high on the belly and neck. This can cause serious injuries in a crash. A booster seat helps the seat belt safely fit a child’s body.

Make every ride a safe ride!

Getting ready

  • Read the instructions that come with your child safety seat and the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual.
  • Make sure that your child is within the weight and height limits for the seat.
  • Check that the seat is approved for use in Canada, with a Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) label. In January 2012, new CMVSS requirements became mandatory.
  • Check for car seat recalls on the Transport Canada​ website.
  • Install the seat in the rear of the vehicle.
  • Never place the seat in front of an active airbag.

Securing a rear-facing or forward-facing seat

All child safety seats must be held in place with a seat belt or with the Universal Anchorage System (UAS). Every vehicle is different so you need to check the vehicle owner’s manual for how to use the UAS in your vehicle. All forward-facing child safety seats must also be secured with a top tether strap. Follow all installation instructions that come with the seat. Once you have attached the child safety seat to the vehicle seat, pull the straps tight enough so that the seat moves less than 2.5 cm (1 inch) in any direction.

Buckling the child in a rear-facing or forward-facing seat

  • Make sure the shoulder harness is threaded through the correct slot according to the instructions.
  • Make sure that the shoulder harness doesn’t slip off your child’s shoulders.
  • Position the chest clip at the armpit level.
  • Tighten the harness so that it is snug. Only one finger should fit between the harness and your child's collarbone.

Need help?

  1. First, read the instructions that came with your child safety seat and the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual.
  2. Next, take a Child Safety Seat YES Test: rear-facing, low birth-weight, forward-facing, or booster seat. These are self-check tools for choosing, installing, and using a child safety seat or booster seat.
  3. The Alberta Occupant Restraint Program has designed Child Safety Seat Training Modules​ to provide information on the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and seat belts for children. 
  4. If you still have questions, take a class. Some areas of the province have programs about correct child restraint use, including fine-option programs for ticketed drivers. Go to Injury Prevention Program for more information.
  5. If you still have questions call Health Link Alberta.

As a parent or caregiver, you have the knowledge and skills to transport your child safely. There are also many educational resources available. You are the child safety seat inspector! Do it right every time.

For more information, see:
Child Car Seats
Booster Seats and Seat Belts
Tips for Buying a Child Safety Seat or Booster Seat
The Tether Strap and Universal Anchorage System (UAS)
Keeping Your Child Content in a Child Safety Seat​ 

For other resources, see:
Alberta Occupant Restraint Program
Alberta Transportation (search for Children and Teens)
Car Seats (Parachute: Preventing Injuries. Saving Lives.)
Car Safety and Kids
Healthy Canadians

Last revised: April 17, 2013
Author: Injury Prevention and Safety, Alberta Health Services

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