Stage 1: Rear-Facing Seats
Babies have weak neck and back muscles. Their necks need extra support while in a car. A rear-facing infant seat will support your baby's neck in a sudden stop or crash. Some child car seats can be used for more than one stage of your child’s development.
How to Install Your Rear-Facing Seat
Always install the rear-facing seat in the back seat of your car. This way, your child is as far away as possible from the front seat air bags if they inflate during a crash. There may be more than one way to install your child seat in your car. All three ways listed below are safe, so you can pick the one that is best for you and your car. You should check both your car owner’s manual and the child seat user guide for more information.
Remember: Infant car seats are not cribs.
Choose the option that keeps the child seat as tightly secured as possible
Option 1: UAS
Use the Universal Anchorage System (UAS), if you have it in your car. Your car owner’s manual will show you where to find the anchors.
In most vehicles, this symbol shows you where to find your car’s UAS anchor bars. It also shows you where the connectors are on your new child seat.
Option 2: Sea t Belt Only
Use this option if your seat belts have a built-in locking feature. Check your car owner’s manual to see how to lock the seat belt correctly.
Option 3: Seat Belt + Locking Clip or Built-In Lock-Off
Use this option if your seat belts do not have a locking feature. Check both your car owner’s manual and child seat user guide to see how to use the locking clip or built-in lock-off.
- Use your knee and body weight in the seat and rock the car seat from side to side as you tighten the seat belt or UAS.
- Items that did not come with your new child seat (such as liners, trays or comfort straps) may not be safe to use. Check with the car seat manufacturer before using these items with your new car seat.
- Leave as much space as possible between the child seat and the front seat of your vehicle.
Test to make sure your rear-facing seat is installed correctly
Make sure the back of the rear-facing car seat is at the correct angle
- Make sure the back of the rear-facing car seat is at a 45-degree angle. This angle helps keep your child comfortable, and makes it easier for him or her to breathe.
- The vehicle must be parked on a level surface.
- The best way to make sure it is at a 45-degree angle is to level the bottom of the car seat with the ground.
- Fold a piece of paper as shown to make a 45-degree angle.
- Follow user manual instructions and look for the built in levels.
- You can put rolled-up towels or a pool noodle under the rear-facing seat to help keep it level.
Make sure the child seat doesn’t move
Grab both sides of the child seat where the seat belt or UAS belt is threaded through the child seat. Now try to move it in every direction: it should not move more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) in any direction, except for the top of the car seat, which is supposed to move.
In a crash or sudden stop, your child will be safer in a seat that is tightly installed.
Buckle up your child
Make sure the harness is snug every time you place your child in the car seat. This will keep your child as safe as possible in a crash or sudden stop.
Things to watch for:
Make sure there is at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of space between the top of your child’s head and the top of the car seat.
Make sure the harness straps are snug on your child’s shoulders. Only one finger should be able to fit between the harness and your child at the collarbone.
Make sure the chest clip is at your child’s armpit level and closed properly.
Make sure the harness straps are at or just below your child’s shoulders.
When should you move your child from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat?
Don’t hurry. Keep your child in the rear-facing seat until he or she grows out of it. Your child seat user guide will tell you the maximum weight and height of a child for that seat. If your child grows out of the rear-facing seat, there may be another model that will still fit your child. Some rear-facing car seats are made for children up to 20 kg (45 lbs)!
It is okay if your child’s legs touch the back of your vehicle seat, as long as your child is still below the manufacturer’s weight and height limits.
Even if your child weighs 10 kg (22 lbs), is able to walk on his or her own and your provincial/territorial law says you can use a forward-facing seat, the rear-facing position is still safer. As long as your child is still below the weight and height limits of your current child seat, you should use that seat for as long as possible.
Keep Kids Safe - Stage 1: Rear-Facing Seats (PDF Format - 458 KB)
Also available in:
- Arabic (PDF Format - 758 KB)
- Chinese (simplified) (PDF Format - 673 KB)
- Punjabi (PDF Format - 800 KB)
- Somali (PDF Format - 851 KB)
- Spanish (PDF Format - 710 KB)
To view PDF documents you must use Adobe® Acrobat Reader. Visit the Adobe site to download the latest, free version.
If you need an alternative format or for more information, please contact us by e-mail at RoadSafetyWebMail@tc.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-333-0371 (Ottawa area (613) 998-8616).
Ordering Printed Copies
Please note that the following links will open in new windows.
- If you wish to order a free copy of Keep Kids Safe - Stage 1: Rear-Facing Seats, follow this link
- You can order other Transport Canada publications by visiting our Online Publications Storefront
- Date modified: