Baby on board: What to know about child car seat regulation in Manitoba

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You child’s safety is your priority. This is why Manitoba imposes strict laws requiring child car seats. Studies have shown that “booster seats effectively protect children from serious injury by more than 60 per cent in the event of a car crash” (Child car seats and booster seats – It’s the law! Manitoba.ca).

The Manitoba Highway and Traffic Act requires a child car seat or booster seat suitable for the child’s age, weight and height. Children are required to remain in booster seats when travelling by car until they are at least 145 centimetres (4’9”) tall, 36 kg (80 lbs) or 9 years old.

“Studies have shown that booster seats effectively protect children from serious injury by more than 60 per cent in the event of a car crash.”

Types of child car seats

There are prescribed rear-facing, forward-facing or booster seats depending on your child’s age, weight and height. There are also multi-stage seats available in the market that accommodate each stage of your child’s development.

Stage 1 – Rear-facing infant seats – Used for babies from birth until the child reaches 20 kg (45 lbs). Rear-facing infant seats distribute the impact along the back of the car seat, protecting your child’s head, neck and spine. The safest place to install this car seat is the rear middle seat.

Stage 2 – Front-facing infant seats – For children up to 30 kg (65 lbs). The harness straps in this type of seat are designed so the impact is taken on the shoulders and chest, and then directed down to the hips (your child’s strongest points). The safest position for this child car seat is also the rear middle seat.

Stage 3 – Booster seats – For children up to 36 kg (80 lbs.). Booster seats allow the car’s seatbelt to be positioned properly on your child’s body to prevent injuries and provide protection.

Gradually introduce the use of seatbelts after the child reaches the required weight, height and age (145 centimetres (4’9”) tall, 36 kg (80 lbs) or 9 years old). You may have to adjust the straps since the shoulder and lap belts can ride too high. It is also suggested that children under 13 years old should not be allowed to ride in the front passenger seat.

Tips for buying child car seats

It goes without saying that proper and comfortable fit would be among your main considerations (aside from getting the right one appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight of course). Before going to the store, it would also be wise to check your car’s owner’s manual for any specifications about child car seats to make sure that what you’ll buy will be compatible.

When buying:

  • Check the seat’s expiry date. This is stamped on the back or bottom of the seat.
  • Buy in Canada. It is safer to buy the child car seat here to ensure that it meets Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (look for the National Safety Mark).
  • Gently used ones can be reused. However make sure that the model has not been recalled or has been in a collision. Go to Transport Canada to check child car seat recalls.
  • Replace the child car seat once it has been in a collision. Whether it was occupied or not, it may have suffered damage and may not be able to provide adequate protection.

Car seats, booster seats and other child restraining devices used in vehicles are exempt from provincial tax.

Installation and inspection

After buying your child car seat, it is crucial that you follow proper installation and placement. There are two choices for installing: Universal Anchor System (UAS) or the vehicle’s seat belt. Either one is safe but don’t use both. It is best to refer to the child car seat and vehicle owner’s manuals for instructions. If you’re not sure that you have installed it correctly, have it inspected for your peace of mind. Free inspection by nationally certified technicians is available in fire departments in various locations around Manitoba.

Parents/drivers are responsible for ensuring that child passengers are properly seated and restrained in car seats or booster seats and seat belts. Go to this link for more tips on checking the fit of the seat and seatbelts: Booster and Child Car Seats.

 
Sources: Booster seats and child car seats, Manitoba.ca; Child seat inspections, MPI; and Child car seat safety, CAA Manitoba. Accessed September 3, 2019.

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