Stage 2: Forward-facing

It is safer for your child to stay rear-facing as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing until age 2 or more. Infants and toddlers are 75% less likely to be killed or seriously injured, if they are rear-facing.

When your child has outgrown the Infant-only seat, you can use an Infant/Child seat or Infant/Child/Booster seat rear-facing up to the car seat’s maximum rear-facing weight [18-22.7 kg (40-50 lb.), depending on the model] OR until the top of the child’s head is 2.5 cm (1 in.), or less, from the top of the seat.

Choosing a Forward-facing Car Seat:

Mother with Daughter in carseatThere are three (3) types of seats that can be used for Stage 2: Forward-facing – Infant/Child seats (also known as Convertible seats), Child/Booster seats (also called 2-in-1 seats) and Infant/Child/Booster Seats (also known as 3-Stage seats).

Remember to fill out and mail in the registration card that comes with the car seat. If there is a recall, the manufacturer will be able to contact you.

photo of two different car seatsInfant/Child seats, Child/Booster seats and Infant/ Child/Boosters can be used forward-facing for children up to 18-30 kg (40-65 lb.), depending on the model.

Once the child has reach at least 18 kg (40 lb.), both Child/Boosters seats and Infant/Child/Booster seats can also be used as a Booster seat. They go to a maximum weight of 45 to 54.5 kg (100 to 120 lb.), depending on the model . Don’t be in a hurry to move a child to a booster. It is safer for a child to use a 5 pt. harness as long as possible.

Harnessing Your Child in the Seat Correctly:

Read and carefully follow the instructions that came with your car seat.

  • Always check the seat’s metal and plastic parts before putting your child in the car seat. In warm weather, they can get very hot.child correctly seated in foreward facing seat
  • Your child’s bottom and back should be flat against the seat back.
  • When forward-facing, the harness must be level with, or just above, your child’s shoulders.
  • The harness straps must lie flat across your child’s body. Any twists or folds will concentrate crash forces.
  • The harness straps should fit snugly. Adjusted properly, you can get no more than one finger between the harness and your child’s chest or be unable to pinch a fold in the strap.
  • The chest clip should be level with your child’s arm pit to keep the harness straps from falling off the shoulders.
  • Bulky clothing can interfere with proper harness fit, as can added padding behind or under the child. Bulky jackets can be put on backwards after the harness is secured. For warmth, blankets can be placed over and around the child after the harness is snug.

Putting the Seat in Your Vehicle:

Read your vehicle owner’s manual. It will have information about the seat belts, Universal Anchorage System (UAS) and tether anchor locations in your vehicle. Check your car seat’s instructions as to where the belt should go.

stroller being tied down in vehicleThe back seat of is the safest place for a child. Transport Canada recommends that all children under 13 years-of-age sit in the back seat. The centre, back position is preferred because it is likely to be furthest away from the point-of-impact from any direction.

Ensure that the interior of your vehicle is safe. Tie down or lock all objects in the trunk. Items left on the rear window ledge can fall on a child. Items on the seat, on the floor, or in an open hatchback, wagon or van can fly around, if there is a sudden stop or collision.

In general, forward-facing car seats should be in the upright position, unless your instructions say that the seat can be reclined. No more than 20% of the bottom of the car seat should overhang the vehicle seat.

A forward-facing car seat must not be installed in a front seating position that has an active air bag. For side-impact air bags, follow your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. Clear the area between the car seat and the door of all objects. Toys, blankets, and even pillows could harm a child, if the side air bag inflates.

Tightening belt forward-facingWhen installing the car seat, use either the seat belt or the Universal Anchorage System (UAS), not both. Most car seats have not been tested using both systems together. Check your instructions. When tightening the seat belt or UAS, push the car seat down and into the vehicle upholstery. The seat should not move more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) toward the front of the vehicle, or directly side-to-side, where the belt is attached.

The Tether Strap:

All forward-facing car seats must be anchored with a tether strap. The tether limits how far forward the car seat will move, in a crash or sudden stop. It is attached to the back of the car seat and is fastened to an anchor in the vehicle.

All passenger vehicles manufactured after September 1st, 1999 come from the factory with user-ready tether anchors built-in. Light trucks and multi-purpose vehicles manufactured after September 1st, 2000, also have them built in. Tether anchor locations will vary from one model of vehicle to another.

photo of tether strap

Check your vehicle owner’s manual or your dealership for these locations.

You will need one tether anchor for each child seat in the vehicle. Always use the tether anchor that is designated for the seating position where the car seat is placed.

Tighten the seat belt or UAS first, then adjust the tether strap. When tightening the tether, ensure that it compresses the vehicle seat back or fixed headrest, if there is one present. If the vehicle has an adjustable headrest, the tether strap is usually threaded under it. Check your vehicle owner’s manual. The tether strap must be tight. Pull forward on the top of the car seat to check the tightness of the tether. The seat should not move forward more than 2.5 cm (1 in.).

When has a child outgrown a Forward-facing Car Seat:

photo of child in incorrectly sized child seatA child has outgrown a Forward-facing car seat when he or she reaches the upper weight or when the top of the ears is above the back of the car seat, or the shoulders are above the top harness position.

Your child may not yet be ready to move to the Booster seat. Booster seats are for children over 18 kg (40 lb.). Most new models of car seats can be used with the harness up to 30 kg (65 lb.). It is safer for a child to remain in the harness as long as possible, up to the car seat’s maximum weight or height limits as indicated in the instructions.
A booster seat is not a substitute for a car seat for children under 18 kg (40 lb.). If your child is too tall for his or her current car seat but does not weigh 18 kg (40 lb.), move your child to a Child/Booster seat that can harness a tall child.

Resources:

Click here to download a pamphlet on Multi-Stage Car Seats

Click here to download a One minute Forward-facing Car Seat Safety Check