The safety of your baby is a priority and a car seat is essential for taking care of the infant while driving. The responsibility of choosing the right car seat should not be taken lightly since the baby’s first journey in a car seat will usually be on the ride home from the hospital to your home. For this reason, choosing a car seat should be done before the arrival of the baby.

As far as car seats go, there are many types and models on the market. This can make the task of choosing one somewhat overwhelming. With this guide we want to help you find the best options available to you so you can choose the car seat that best suits your needs.

Key Facts

  • Car seats are categorized by the size and weight of your child. It is important to look for a seat that lasts and is of quality for each stage of their infancy.
  • Car seat regulations vary from province to province. However, all provinces have some sort of regulation which require the use of car seats and booster seats. It is important to take these regulations into account when shopping. After all these are in place to ensure the safety of your baby.
  • Although there are seats that adapt to all stages of your child’s growth, you should not forget that the seats wear out. Materials degrade with use, so it’s worth buying more than one throughout their childhood.

Ranking: The best car seats on the market

Next, we show you the best car seats available on the Canadian market. In this section you will find out which car seat is the most suitable for your baby. In addition, we’ll share some great tips to help your little one travel in the safest and best ways.

No. 1: Evenflo, Lx Harnessed Seat – Chase

This harnessed booster car seat is for children of at least 2 years of age. It features a 2-in-1 design: forward-facing harness to belt-positioning booster. As your child grows, this model allows for extended use as it converts from a 5-point harness seat to a vehicle seat belt booster chair. This seat has a weight capacity of up to 110 lbs, which accommodates growing children longer.

The machine-washable pad is easy to clean and maintain. This car seat has undergone rigorous testing and it meets or exceeds all safety standards including side impact test standards. Moreover, it’s energy absorbing foam liner provides an added element of safety and comfort to your child.

No. 2: Safety 1st, Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat – Roan

This car seat by Safety 1st (model: Roan) is a 3-in-1 convertible system. It allows for a 5-40 lb (19-40-inch) baby to seat rear-facing, for a 22-65 lb (29-49-inch) baby to seat forward-facing and it converts to a booster seat for toddlers and children 40-100 lb (43-52-inches). This design comes with a QuickFit harness system that lets you adjust the height from the front of the car making it easier to get your child in and out.

As an added feature it comes with two integrated cup holders and its actually designed to give parents more comfort as well; when the seat is placed rear-facing it gives up to 7-inches of extra leg room to the parent sitting in the front. This car seat meets or exceeds federal and ASTM Safety Standards. Moreover, its one click UAS system makes it approved for airplane travel when used with the harness system.

No. 3: Evenflo, Big Kid Car Seat – Denver

This is another best selling model from Evenflo, it has a 2-in-1 design with a removable back for easy transition to a no-back booster. To make the parents lives easier, it has a one-hand 6-position height adjustment mechanism to accommodate growing children for longer. This seat is designed for children of at least 4 years of age.

This design comes with 2 elastic cup holders and like other models in this ranking, it has a machine-washable pad. This car seat is also lined with energy absorbing foam to provide your child with added safety and comfort. Parents have great things to say about this product, its great price and high quality is often mentioned.

No. 4: Greco, Extend2fit Convertible Car Seat – Valor

This car seat is designed to help protect rear-facing infants that weigh 1.8-22.5 kg (4-50 lb) and forward-facing toddlers that weigh 10-30 kg (22-65 lb). The Extend2fit has a 4-position extension panel that adjusts to provide 12.7 cm (5”) of additional leg room as they grow, allowing the child to ride safely rear-facing for longer.

Greco is a trusted brand on the market and it’s known to manufacture products of high quality, comfort and safety. Consumers specifically report it being very easy to set up and very comfortable to use. Parents also note enjoying the convenience of having so many positions available in the rear-facing setup.

No. 5: Evenflo, Tribute Convertible Car Seat – Bennett

This bestseller also comes from Evenflo. The Tribute is the ideal convertible seat for frequent-flyer families and those that need to switch between vehicles often. It’s compact size was designed for great vehicle fit and easy transportation. This item is fashioned with polyester soft-goods which make it naturally durable and resistant to moisture and stains.

Like other models, its lining is machine-washable and safe to tumble dry on low heat. It has an easy-to-access upfront harness adjustment and a buckle release system that makes adjusting the harness very simple and easy. Reviews rate this car seat as a top-notch, extended use option at a very affordable price.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about car seats

Before buying a car seat you must take into account different factors. Your decision will depend on the age and size of your child, as well as the type of travel and trips that form part of your routine. For this reason, in this next section we address the most frequently asked questions of parents at the time of making this important purchase.

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Car seats gives babies the safety they deserve. (Source: Melpomen: 60979509/123rf.com)

Are there any car seat regulations in Canada?

Yes! Canadian federal regulations changed in 2012 and new standards have been enforced since 2014. Among the changes, the size definition of a child was changed from 9kg to 10kg. Moreover, there was also an increase in the maximum allowable weight limit of child seats from 22kg to 30 kg.

In order to guarantee meeting all of the safety regulations and standards of the Canadian government concerning car seats, make sure to evaluate and consider these important aspects:

  • Mandatory use: Children shorter than 135cm must use a car seat.
  • Seat direction: Babies up to 15 months of age should travel in the opposite direction the car is travelling, i.e. rear-facing. Why? Because babies’ necks are not fully developed and the infant is exposed to serious injuries in the event of sudden deceleration.
  • Anchoring system: Your car must have Isofix. What is it? It is an international standard anchorage system for car seats. It consists of two attachment points between the seat and the backrest. All cars manufactured from 2014 onwards are equipped with Isofix.
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Car seats allow your baby to travel safe and comfortably. (Source: Orlov: 51581571/123rf.com

If you have already purchased a seat that does not comply with the new standard, don’t worry. You don’t have to buy a new one. If you are going to buy one now – especially if you are going to use it for many years – choose one that follows the “new” regulations.

Do I only have to buy one car seat for my child?

No, you have to change seats to accommodate your child’s growth. Car seat types are organized according to the height of the child, these are the different stages:

  • Stage 1: rear-facing chairs for children from 40 to 85 cm high (up to the first year of age).
  • Stage 2: forward-facing chairs for children between 45 and 105 cm high (from 6 months to 4 years).
  • Stage 3: booster seats with mandatory backrest for children between 100 and 140 cm high (up to around 8 years old).
  • Stage 4: all children who have outgrown their booster seats must wear seatbelts.

If you read our ranking from the previous section, you would have noticed that almost all products support all stages. This table shows the different stages in weight:

Stage Weight
Stage 1 Up to 10 kg (birth to 9 months)
Stage 1+ Up to 13 kg (birth to 12-15 months)
Stage 2 From 9 to 18 kilos (from 9 months to 4 years old)
Stage 3 From 15 to 29 kilos (from 4 to 8 years old)
Stage 4 From 25 to 36 kilos (from 8 onwards)

Can I buy a second-hand car seat?

Yes, but it is advisable to buy a new one because buying a second-hand car seat carries certain risks. Car seats have an expiration date. Generally, they can be used for up to 10 years after their date of manufacture.

However, the useful life of seats can expire before that limit. Why?

  • Wear: Car seat materials wear with prolonged use. Most car seats have a plastic frame, this is a material that degrades over time. Metal parts can rust with moisture. The harness that holds the baby also wears due to friction and washing.
  • Misleading product conditions:Even if a car seat appears to be in good condition, it may have damage that makes it less effective. Car seats have small parts that are lost with use, transportation and accidents. Moreover, if we don’t know the origin of the seat, we don’t know if it was involved in an accident. The impact in a collision can crack the seat internally, rendering its safety capabilities practically useless.
  • New regulation: As already mentioned, a new and more strict regulation rolled out a few years back. Until recently, car seats were manufactured according to previous regulations. A second-hand car seat may not have the Isofix anchorage system, for example.
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Remember that buying the best possible car seat is an investment in your children’s safety.

How do I install a car seat?

The installation of the car seat can be overwhelming for many parents. With the old installation method that used the seat belt, it was easy to make a mistake. However, we have good news for you: the Isofix system considerably reduces the risk of making any mistakes. Simply follow the products installation instructions and it should be pretty straight forward.

Below is a video on how to instal infant child seats:

Purchase Criteria

To choose the best car seat for your baby there are several factors to take into account. Remember that not all parents and babies have the same needs, so consider the following criteria before making your decision:

  • Safety
  • Anchorage system
  • Comfort
  • Ages of use

Safety

The only purpose of the car seat is to keep the little ones safe. Therefore, it is worth choosing seats that have been been tested and meet all the safety standards and regulations.

Anchorage system

There are still many car seats on the market that are not installed with the Isofix system. If your car has this system, we recommend that you choose a seat that supports this system. Even though these items are a bit more expensive, they are safer. The risk of incorrect mounting is considerably reduced with this system.

Advantages
  • Easier to install correctly
  • Fits all cars with approved anchorage
  • Will be mandatory within a couple of years
Disadvantages
  • Higher price
  • Not all cars have Isofix

Comfort

If you and your child travel by car frequently, your child will spend a lot of time in his or her seat. It’s important that they feel comfortable in it. In order to provide them with the best comfort, make sure that the fabric of the cushions is soft and breathable and that they are plush and comfortable. In addition, the seat should allow the child to recline his or her head back so that the child can sleep better.

Usage ages

As you may have noticed in our ranking, there are car seats that cover different age ranges. Some cover fewer ages, others more. There are even convertible seats that cover all weight groups and can be used from the birth of your child to up to 12 years of age.

We do not recommend them as they often get poor evaluation results, especially when it comes to ensuring the safety of newborns. Also, remember that car seats wear out over time and expire. It’s best to invest in several good seats as your child grows.

Summary

Buying a good car seat is investing in the safety of your child. When making your decision it’s worth remembering that the rules have changed and that it’s worth buying a seat that follows them, especially with regard to the anchoring system. In our ranking you can find different options that adapt to the needs of your little one.

You should keep in mind that your baby’s first car seat will not be the only one you’ll need. Your child will grow up and the seat will wear out over time. Look for a seat that will adapt to their growth for several years, but be ready to trade up when the time calls for it. Lastly, remember that your child will spend a lot of time in the seat, so make sure it is comfortable and fluffy.

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(Featured image source: Melpomen: 60979523/123rf.com)

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