Consumer Information Notice - Infant Car Seats Are NOT Cribs - Questions and Answers

TP 2436
Road Safety Leaflet # D-2002-04 (E)



  1. Why is this warning necessary?
  2. Have any infants been killed using infant seats as cribs?
  3. What is the correct use of an infant car seat?
  4. Are some infant car seats designed to carry infants outside a motor vehicle?
  5. Why can't an infant car seat be used safely when infants are left alone?
  6. Why isn't the harness dangerous when the infant car seat is used in a vehicle?
  7. Does the infant car seat or instruction manual have a label with this information?
  8. Can infant seats be used in vehicles without standard vehicle seats?
  9. Are there other concerns in the use of a infant car seat outside a vehicle?
  10. Where can I get more information on infant or child seats?


1. Why is this warning necessary?

The purpose of this advisory is to warn parents, caregivers, and infant seat use instructors of the serious danger involved in using an infant car seat as a crib, swing, or any other use for which it was not designed. The improper use of an infant car seat as a crib or a swing resulted in three deaths in Canada and others in the United States.

2. Have any infants been killed using infant seats as cribs?

Recently, in three isolated incidents, the harness straps of their seats have accidentally strangled infants, who had been left unattended in their infant car seats outside of a vehicle. Two of the deaths occurred when the infant car seat was used as a crib and another when the seat was modified for use as a swing. The tragic deaths of these infants need NOT have occurred.

3. What is the correct use of an infant car seat?

The purpose of an infant car seat is to protect an infant in the event of a motor vehicle collision. An infant car seat is designed and manufactured to comply with the applicable Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS 213.1) to reduce the potential for infant injuries and fatalities in those circumstances.

4. Are some infant car seats designed to carry infants outside a motor vehicle?

Yes, some are, however the manufacturer's instructions should always be consulted to find out under which circumstances it is safe to do so. The infant should be securely seated in the infant seat with the straps provided. However, the infant should never be left unattended even for short periods of time.

5. Why can't an infant car seat be used safely when infants are left alone?

Infant car seats are NOT cribs and/or temporary cribs. The infant seats do not meet the safety requirements for a crib or a swing. Cribs, swings and other devices have their own safety standards developed to keep infants safe while the product is being used for its designed purpose.

When an infant is placed in an infant car seat outside of a vehicle, the centre of gravity of the car seat and infant is raised making it top heavy and unstable. The movement of the baby can result in the infant car seat tipping over and the harness system can then exert sufficient pressure on the infant's neck to cause asphyxiation (strangulation).

6. Why isn't the harness dangerous when the infant car seat is used in a vehicle?

In a motor vehicle, the infant seat is safe and will not tip over when correctly installed because the vehicle seat belt holds the infant seat securely against the vehicle seat cushion. While braking or turning, an infant secured in the seat does not tip over.

7. Does the infant car seat or instruction manual have a label with this information?

Regulations already require manufacturers to specify on their labels and in their instructions the circumstances under which they recommend that their infant seat should and should not be used in a vehicle. The manufacturers of the infant car seats have warnings in the instructions not to leave an infant unattended in a motor vehicle.

The current requirements are under review. The suggestion to include a warning on the infant car seat label indicating that this seat should not be used as a crib will be carefully evaluated. Research to date indicates that users of infant and child seats best understand a few simple messages, for example, never leave an infant unattended.

8. Can infant seats be used in vehicles without standard vehicle seats?

Transport Canada does not recommend infant car seats be used in a boats, in motorcycle sidecars, in a pick-up truck box, in the cargo area of a station wagon, hatchback or cargo van or other situations where the infant car seat cannot be installed following the manufacturer's instructions.

An infant car seat must be installed rear-facing, solidly attached to the vehicle seat by the seat belt. If the infant car seat cannot be installed correctly in a vehicle, use another vehicle, where the installation of the infant car seat will be safe, to transport the infant.

9. Are there other concerns in the use of a infant car seat outside a vehicle?

Care must be taken when placing the infant seat on any surface. It should not be placed close to the edge of a table or a counter, to electronic equipment or a to heat source. Two incidents have been reported where infants in infant car seats were left unattended on hot stoves, resulting in one death and one infant suffering serious burns.

10. Where can I get more information on infant or child seats?

For more information about infant or child safety in vehicles, contact Transport Canada's Road Safety Information Centre at 1-800-333-0371, or (613) 998-8616 in the Ottawa area.

NEVER LEAVE AN INFANT UNATTENDED IN AN INFANT CAR SEAT

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