Buying a car seat is a pretty fun experience. You get to see all of the cool technology and different approaches the dozens of companies have taken to child passenger safety. If you’re lucky, you’ll even find a brand that has hooked up with your favourite franchises or brand names and have put neat special edition seats together (like my wife did with our Tokidoki car seat.) There are some things you should be aware of before you do hand your credit card over though. Not all car seats have been built equally and some will fit your needs better than others. Here are 5 of those things that you need to know about buying a car seat in Canada

recallnoticeHas your seat ever been recalled?

This is the first and potentially most important question that you should be asking yourself going into purchasing any seat. Before you commit to a brand name and model, you should find out if the seat has ever been recalled and what the recall was for.

Just like with vehicle recalls, they don’t necessarily have to be dealbreakers. Recalls can be for pretty minor reasons (like a seizing button) that affect the seat’s operation slightly but don’t put your baby in danger. However, recalls can be for more severe reasons too that DO affect the seat’s effectiveness and should be dealbreakers. You should be careful specifically around seats that have known issues with the bases, tethers, shells or impact resistors.

Transport Canada keeps a fairly up to date public notice list for child car seat recalls that you should flag and refer to prior to buying your chosen seat.

On the other side, once you have purchased your car seat, you should register your seat as soon as possible in order to receive recall notices if something occurs after purchase. In my case, we purchased a car seat where the belt buckle on the harness was susceptible to seizing and so the company mailed us a recall notice along with a less rigid but just as safe solution.

Car Seats Have Manufacturing and Expiration Dates

I remember when I was speaking to my family about choosing a car seat for my then-unborn daughter and the look of shock on their faces when I told them about car seat expiration and manufacture dates as an increased factor in child safety. As it turns out, everybody believed that nobody paid attention to that stuff “back in the day” and that the things had changed drastically compared to the boosters and basic car seats we had (and were passed on from cousin to cousin) growing up. I think I had one cousin that was using my childhood booster seat when he was 4. I would have been 12 on 13 by then. Ah the 80s and early 90s.


Car seats do have manufacturing and expiration dates stickered or hard pressed into them nowadays. This is because manufacturers can only guarantee the safety of the plastics used to make those seats for that long. The composition degrades as time goes on due to usage and wear and tear not associated with using it (ie. sitting in hot cars for many years.) If you end up buying a new seat, be careful about paying attention to the expiration date since if it will be passed down to any kids in the future, you have to make sure that you’re not using it after it’s best before date.

Typically, most car seats nowadays tend to have a 5-10 year shelf life. 3 in 1 car seats that are made to last from day 1 of car seat need all the way to the end tend to have longer shelf lives with that in mind.

One thing to keep in mind though is that in the event of a collision or car accident, the seat is considered expired as soon as possible and you must replace it right away.

Check out the full line of Infant, Toddler and Booster car seats available now at

You can’t buy your car seat outside of Canada

carseatcsaapprovalIf you’re a notorious cross-border shopper like I am, I’m sure you’ve picked up many a product before that you can’t buy here or have found cheaper. That’s great. Be sure that you don’t do that with most base baby products. Car seats and cribs are among the things you can’t bring back or have shipped cross border. As a rule of thumb, these sorts of safety products must have CMVSS certification on them for you to use, right down to the decal. So for example, if you’ve planned on purchasing a seat from a well known brand, you can’t buy the exact same model and bring it back across the border just because the model is certified here. The seat must physically have the certification sticker on it. Otherwise, your seat can be seized at the border.

Can the seat even fit in your car?

CarseatincarAHave you seen the size of today’s car seats? Some of them are massive. They’re like fitting an extra person in your car. Before you buy a seat you’ve seen because it looks cool or you think your child will enjoy sitting in it, be sure that the seat actually fits in your car. If you’ve read my car seat reviews in the past, you’ll know that the main seat we have in our SUV won’t even fit in our sedan due to its height and how high the child sits up on it. Some of the main things to look for that help with that size discrepancy are how high or low the seat’s base is and how low your child will sit down off of it. Width plays a factor in family sedans too. If you’re rear facing the seat, the base will tilt the seat upward and take up the space between the back and front seats. If the seat comes out too far, you’ll have to adjust your own car seats (since those seats can’t be touching at all) which could impact your own driving preferences.

If the 3-in-1 base is high or has extra hardware that needs to attach in phases too (like bars that Clek seats have for the infant phase, for example,) it might not work.

You should also check to see that you have all the right hardware to install the seat. Forward facing seats must use the rear tether located at the top of the seat and must be secured to the vehicle using a tether clip. Most vehicles manufactured after 1996 have these tethers. If yours doesn’t, however, you’ll have to install an aftermarket one. Your seatbelt must have child lock functions as well if your installation is done through the belt path. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to purchase a little device that makes your seatbelt mimic that locking behavior. Most higher end car seats come with one of these devices in case you need it, but many don’t.


Learn how to properly install your car seat

The installation instructions for a car seat seem easy enough, but there are little nuances you need to be aware of. The instructions might tell you that you should be securing your seat to allow for a certain amount of side to side movement, but what does that actually look like in theory?

If you’re installing a seat for the first time, you should really consider meeting with a Child Passenger Safety consultant or attending a workshop by one of them to install your seat for you and then teach back on how to do it. One of the more helpful things you’ll learn at these types of seminars or meet and greets are not just how to install, but how to add proper leverage to the car seat to ensure that you’re not doing anything to it while installing. I’ve heard stories of parents who have tried to secure the car seat while putting a knee on it and the added force along with how hard they were securing have resulted in breaking the seat altogether.

Some groups charge for the service while some do it for free. Rurally, you should check with your local fire or police departments to see if they have anybody capable of showing you how to install. If you live in the city, check with your local CAA Branch too to see if they have any resources that can help or run these types of sessions.

I hope that you’ve found this blog informative. Doing a quick bit of research and preventative maintenance can save you valuable time (and even money) in the long run.

Check out the full line of Infant, Toddler and Booster car seats available now at

Matt Paligaru
Emerging Technology
A technology nut at heart, I'm always interested in what makes our lives easier and helps us tick day to day. Whether Home Automation, toys, games (board and video) or everything in between, I'm always looking around the corner to see what drives us in today's day and age.


  1. Really helpful tips. Every parent should follow this tips for safe travel time. For comfortable journey journey car seat is essential for kids. This blog really helpful to choose safe and best car seat for kids.

  2. Amazing! Really helpful guideline for buying a car seat. It’s really important to choose the best car seat for child safety. Parents always worried about it when they are trying to buy a car seat for the baby. I think these tips help the parent to buy the best car seat for the child. Thanks for such brilliant tips to buy a car seat.

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