Stage 1: Rear-facing car seat

Updated November 27th, 2019

  • Car seats help keep your child safe in a motor vehicle.  In Manitoba, the law states that all child passengers under nine years of age must ride in a child car seat or booster seat.
  • Infants must ride in a car seat that is designed to face the back of your vehicle.
  • A rear-facing car seat supports and protects the young child’s developing head, neck and back.  It is safest to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible – up to 2 years of age or longer!

Which car seat should I choose?

There are three types of car seats that can be used for infants.

Infant car seats – These are useful for babies as the seat can come off the base and be used to carry baby. This type of seat may be sold as part of a “travel system” where the seat can be used on a stroller. Some infant seats have weight limits up to 15.6 kg (35 lbs.). When your child outgrows the height or weight limit of the infant car seat, you will need to buy a convertible or 3-in-1 car seat to keep him rear-facing longer.

Convertible car seats – These are larger car seats that you install in your vehicle. Convertible car seats can be used rear-facing and then used forward-facing when your child outgrows the rear-facing limits. Look for seats that have higher weight limits so the seat can be used as long as possible.  Some seats have limits up to 22.7 kg (50 lbs.) rear-facing and 29.5 kg (65 lbs.) forward-facing.

3-in-1 seats – these are similar to convertible car seats but they can also be used as a booster seat. Some have an upper booster seat weight limit of 54.4kg (120 lbs.).

Important tips:

  • Check the expiry date on the car seat.
  • Check Transport Canada’s Recall Database to make sure your seat is safe to use.
  • Car seat accessories that are sold separately from the car seat are not recommended. These include head positioners, harness covers, and seat protectors. These can how well the car seat protects your child in a crash.
  • Look for Transport Canada’s National Safety Mark on the car seat. Car seats sold in the U.S. will not have this seal and are not approved for use in Canada.

Are second-hand (used) car seats safe?

They can be. Avoid a used car seat that:

  • has been in a crash or you don’t now if it has been in a crash
  • is past the expiry date
  • is missing parts
  • has visible damage or cracks
  • has straps that are warn or frayed

The Child Passenger Association of Canada has a Used Seat Checklist

How do I install my car seat?

  • All children under 13 years of age should ride in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • The safest place in the vehicle to install the car seat is in the middle of your back seat.
  • Follow the owner’s manuals for your vehicle and car seat for proper installation of your specific car seat. Some manufacturers have videos online to help you.
  • You can use the UAS (Universal Anchorage System) in your car or the seatbelt to install the car seat.
    • Don’t use both.
    • Use the UAS if you can.
    • Check your car owner’s manual to see if UAS can be used to install the car seat in the center position.
    • UAS systems have a weight limit which includes your child’s weight and the weight of the car seat. Once your child reaches 18 kg (40 lb.), check your vehicle’s and your car seat’s instructions for the maximum weight allowed for the UAS.
  • Rear-facing car seats should be reclined. The car seat instructions will have information on how much the seat should be reclined.
  • When using a bucket seat read the instructions about the correct handle position in the car.
  • In Winnipeg, Manitoba Car Seats will do car seat inspections and there may be a charge for this service. Visit Manitoba Car Seats for more information and to find a certified car seat technician.
rear facing car seat - stage one

photo courtesy of Manitoba Public Insurance

How do I know if the straps are done up safely?

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how you secure your baby into the car seat.
  • You should only be able to fit one finger between your baby’s collarbone and the harness straps.
  • The chest clip should be at armpit level.
  • You will need to adjust the straps as your baby grows.
  • In the winter, you can dress your baby in a snowsuit. Choose snowsuits or jackets that are not puffy and are not made out of slippery material.  Make sure when you are tightening the harness straps that you squeeze the snowsuit so that you can only fit one finger between the snowsuit and the straps.

How will I know if my child is ready for a forward-facing car seat?

It is recommended you keep you child rear-facing as long as possible until they have outgrown the height or weight limit of the car seat. Your child might be two years of age or older.  In a crash a rear-facing car seat provides the best protection for baby’s developing head, neck and spine.

As your child grows, it may look like there is not enough room for her legs. However, she will straddle the seat, cross her legs or find other ways of being comfortable rear-facing. 

Only move your child to a forward-facing seat once he has outgrown the height or weight limit of the convertible car seat.


Manitoba Public Insurance
Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada
Transport Canada

Stage 3 Booster Seat

Every car seat stage is safer than the next one. Once your child has outgrown the forward-facing car seat is time to keep him safe in the car with a booster seat.

Read More