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How do I … Install a front-facing car seat or booster seat

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Last week we took a look at how to properly install a rear-facing car seat, and, in this column, we will look at front-facing and booster seats.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, front-facing seats are designed for children that weigh nine kilograms (20 lbs.) or more. However, Sgt. Jason Kraft, of the Toronto Police Service’s traffic services unit, said you shouldn’t be in rush to switch from rear-facing. “Parents sometimes will take a look at the minimum requirements to be front-facing and are too quick to change their child,” he said. “You can have a rear-facing (car seat) for up to 80 lbs. Being rear-facing is safer in the event of a collision.”

Car seats and booster seats should be installed in the back seat or the second or third row of larger vehicles and away from the airbags. They should be installed only in spots where the seatbelt has a shoulder and lap strap. You should also refer to the manual for your car and the seat when installing.

To install a front-facing seats you route the vehicle’s seat belt or Universal Anchorage System strap through the seat’s proper attachment points and use your body weight to fasten it into place, making sure it can’t move more than 2.5 cm in any direction. Your manuals will tell you if you also need to use a locking clip, which secures the child car seat to your vehicle, and where to install it. For a front facing seat, you also need to attach its top tether strap to the anchor point that is built into your vehicle. These are mandatory in Canada and prevent the seat from moving forward in an accident. If your car does not have one, your vehicle dealership can advise on how to have one installed.

When you place your child in the seat, make sure the harnesses are positioned at or above their shoulders, and that it is snug enough that you can’t pinch it at the collarbone.

You can use a front-facing seat until your child meets the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit. If you do decide to stop using it, Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act still requires children weighing 18 kg to 36 kg (40 to 80 lb.), standing less than 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall and who are under the age of eight to use a booster seat. When your child is in the booster, adjust the shoulder strap so it lies centered on their shoulder and the middle of their chest. The lap belt should cross low over the hips and not their stomach. You should also ensure their head is properly supported by the seat. – Torstar News Service

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