Thirty years ago, car safety was so much simpler than today; all the child had to do was stand up with both hands firmly pressed against the front seat or dashboard. The harder he held on, the safer he was! It was also a time when some people had e a beer behind the wheel, a time where seatbelts and studies on road safety were rather scarce.
Fortunately, our awareness to car travel risks, and more importantly, our knowledge of the tools available to protect children, have made a huge progress, so much so that many people now have trouble making sense of the vast array of car seats on the market.
Since October 29, 2002, the Highway Safety Code makes it mandatory to use a car seat for "children whose sitting height is less than 63 cm". Age is no longer a reference; the sitting height of the child (measured from the seat to the top of the head) is now what matters. A shorter 7 or 8 year-old may then have to travel in a car seat just as a younger child.
Newborn seats are designed for children under 9 kilos (20 pounds) or shorter than 66 centimetres (26 inches).
It must be installed backwards on the back seat, providing the child with superior neck and rib cage protection in case of an accident or sudden breaking. The SAAQ recommends you use the newborn seat that way until the child can stand up by himself, so at least until he is 12 months old.
If your car doesn’t have a passenger air bag, you can use the front seat after backing it up all the way. If your car has a passenger air bag, never put the newborn seat in front.
The newborn seat must be placed at a 45° angle so that the baby is neither laying down nor standing up. If the seat isn't angled, put a rolled towel underneath it to correct this.
Mount the baby seat on the car seat with the safety belt by making it go through the notches on the baby seat. You can place the shoulder safety belt behind the seat if it is long enough. Otherwise, make it go through the notches designed for this use. Recent cars come with universal anchorages (ISOFIX/LATCH) that can safely hold back the seat with a special strap without using the car's belts. If there is no such strap, you can buy one and ask your car dealer to install it.
If the seat comes with a base, start by attaching it to the car seat with the safety belt or the anchoring system and special strap. Then attach the seat to its base. For it to be held tight, put a knee in the baby seat to push it against the backrest and then tighten the belt as much as you can. The baby seat should barely move. Put the harness through the seat notches just below the baby's shoulders, and push the clip up to tie everything together at armpit level.