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What Are the Requirements for a Booster Seat in Ontario?

Your child is always safest when they are in the appropriate car or booster seat, and there are laws in Ontario that require parents to protect their children in this way. Knowing the answer to when a child should go from a car seat to a booster seat can help you keep your precious cargo safe on the road. If your child has been injured by the negligence of another driver, don’t wait to consult with an experienced Hamilton personal injury lawyer.

The Age and Weight Basics

Ontario car seat laws dictate the following height and weight requirements when it comes to choosing the right safety seat for your child:

  • If your child is a baby or infant and weighs up to 9 kg – or 20 pounds – they should ride in a rear-facing child car seat.
  • If your child is a toddler and weighs from 9 to 18 kg – or from 20 to 40 pounds – they should ride in a forward-facing child car seat.
  • If the manufacturer of your child’s car seat recommends that – due to the child’s height and weight combination – they ride in a rear-facing child car seat, you should follow these guidelines.
  • If your child is under the age of 8 and weighs from 18 to 36 kg – or from 40 to 80 pounds – and is under 145 cm – or 4 feet 9 inches – tall, they should ride in a booster seat.

It is always in the best interests of your child’s safety and well-being to follow the maximum height and weight guidelines provided by the manufacturer of the car seat or booster seat that you’re using.

When Can a Child Go from a Car Seat to a Booster Seat in Ontario?

The safest practice is allowing your child to outgrow the maximum height and weight requirements – whichever they surpass first – before moving into the next stage of safety seat. The booster seat guidelines in Ontario include the following:

  • Only install a booster seat in a position where there is both a shoulder and a lap seat belt available.   
  • Install the booster seat in a back seat that is away from any active airbags.
  • Adjust the booster seat’s lap and shoulder bags to ensure they carefully fit your child. This includes the shoulder strap lying centred across your child’s shoulder – rather than near their neck or face – and crossing the middle of their chest, along with the lap belt crossing low over their hips – rather than their stomach.
  • Don’t use seat belt adjusters to achieve a better fit – it’s time to find a better-fitting booster.

Carefully following all the booster seat requirements in Ontario can help you keep your child safer when you’re on the road.

Tips for Buying a Child Booster Seat in Ontario

When you purchase a booster seat for your child, keep all the following safety tips in mind:

  • Look for a National Safety Mark label, which lets you know that the seat is in compliance with all booster seat laws in Ontario.
  • Ensure that the useful life date or expiry date on the booster seat has not passed.
  • Ensure that the booster seat includes all the necessary components.
  • Ensure that you follow the booster seat instructions regarding how to use and install the exact booster seat you are using.
  • Ensure that the booster seat you are using has never been in a collision – if you aren’t sure, it’s best to purchase a new one.
  • Inspect the booster seat for any signs of wear and tear, including things like stress cracks or marks or torn harness straps.

Know the Stages of Car Seats

As parents, there is a lot to learn about keeping your children safe, and part of this is understanding the stages of car seats as they grow to help ensure you always achieve a safe fit.

The Rear-Facing Car Seat

The rear-facing car seat is considered the safest option for children because it provides better support for both their heads and necks. This is the legal requirement for all children in Canada from birth to a minimum weight of 9 kg – or 20 pounds. Some manufacturers produce rear-facing car seats for larger children, and it’s always important to carefully adhere to all manufacturer guidelines.

The Front-Facing Car Seat

Once your child outgrows their rear-facing car seat, they’re ready to face the front – like other passengers in the car. Front-facing car seats include a five-point harness, and these safety seats are designed to protect both toddlers and younger children.

The Booster Seat

Booster seat requirements in Ontario focus on older and larger toddlers and young children who have outgrown their front-facing car seats but are not yet large enough for a seat belt to protect them properly. The minimum requirements for booster seats in Ontario include the child weighing at least 36 kg – or 80 pounds – or being at least 145 cm – or 4 feet 9 inches – tall. Regardless of the kind of seat your child is in, you should always follow the manufacturer’s maximum size guidelines.

The Seat Belt

Once your child is heavy enough and tall enough for the car’s seat belt to fit closely across their lap and to rest centred on their shoulder, they may be ready to use the seat belt in the front seat if needed. Your child, however – regardless of their height and weight – is always safest when they travel in the back seat.

The Safety Benefits of the Right Car Seat

The safety benefits of children’s car seats and boosters are undeniable. They not only save lives but also help prevent children from suffering very serious injuries. The bottom line, however, is that these seats only protect their occupants when they’re used properly, which includes all the following:

  • The car or booster seat must be appropriate for the child’s height, weight, and age – in accordance with Ontario’s laws and the seat manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The seat must be installed properly in a safe spot in the vehicle’s back seat.
  • The child must be properly secured in the car seat or booster.

A Note about the Front Seat

Booster seat guidelines in Ontario remind parents that children are generally safest in the back seat until they are at least 12 years old. If your child does sit in the front seat, it’s important to keep the airbags, which are designed for adults, in mind. If your child isn’t as large as an adult, it’s best to manoeuvre the front seat as far back as possible. Further, your child should sit straight back against the seat for maximum safety – without putting their feet on the dash or leaning up against the door.

Look to an Experienced Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer for the Help You Need

If another driver’s negligence causes your child to be injured in a car accident, Derek Wilson at Derek Wilson Law is a seasoned Ontario personal injury lawyer who is committed to skillfully advocating for the compensation to which your child is entitled – in support of their most complete recovery. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 905-769-0418 today. 

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