In honour of Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week happening September 19th-25th, we are making this month’s blog focus car seats! To kick us off we have an interview with our resident car seat safety expert and Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, Cris Strong. Cris has been working with Go Green Baby since 2019 and we are so lucky to have her on our team.
Welcome Cris! Tell us a bit about your experience as a car seat technician. How did you get into this field?
Cris Strong: I wanted to become a CPST [Child Passenger Safety Technician] because I had realized I was doing almost everything wrong. Between the births of my second and third child, I really began researching car seat safety. I actually still have a lot of guilt about how my first and second were riding. I wanted to help other parents make the safest choice for their children.
That’s great to hear; when we know better, we do better! What would you say is your favourite part about being a car seat tech?
CS: I love getting to meet families and especially the kids. I love helping them learn how to install and use their child restraints correctly.
Awesome! It must feel nice to make a difference. What are your top three car seat installation tips?
CS: Number one, research seats before you decide on one and if possible, try before you buy. Second. Read, read, read. Read the manual. Seriously. Read it. Twice. And finally, meet with a CPST either privately or at a clinic.
As a new parent, the car seat comes at such an early stage. There’s so much to learn about and usually you’ve just left the hospital so your faculties are bit diminished. What should I do if I’m not sure my car seat is installed properly?
CS: Meeting with a CPST, like myself, is your best option. This can be done at a car seat clinic or by making a private appointment with a technician.
If you're looking for a private appointment with a Child Passenger Safety Technician anywhere in Canada, check out Find a Tech for a list of qualified technicians. If you're in Ontario, SEATS for Kids hosts a number of car seat clinic a year. Check them out here.
Three Across! Can my vehicle handle it? Any tips for a successful 3-across installation?
CS: There are many complications that can come up in a 3-across installation!
CS: Some seats have overlapping seatbelts. Some vehicle manuals will actually prohibit car seat installations in certain seats. Not to mention all the variations… rear facing, forward facing, booster rider, 5 stepper… all different seats or variants can complicate things further. Your best bet is to meet with a CPST before jumping into a 3-across install.
What about cleaning? We’d all love to keep our cars as pristine as possible, but driving with children means spills, crumbs, spit-up, and anything else you can think of. How should I go about cleaning my car seat?
CS: It really depends on the manufacturer. You should only ever clean your car seat in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some might have hand wash only fabrics, some you might be able to machine wash. Your car seat manual will tell you how to best clean your seat.
What can I do to protect the seats in the car from car seat damage?
CS: Some manufacturers make and sell their own carseat protectors. Others state not to use anything. Again, it’s best to refer to your car seat’s manual before purchasing anything.
What are the benefits to using an infant seat and a convertible car seat rather than just the convertible?
CS: Convenience. Many infant seats have a clip and go feature for strollers. Some parents prefer use of an infant seat for winters so they don't have to unbundle their child to safely secure them in their car seat.
Is it safer to install a car seat using the Universal Anchorage System (UAS) clips than to install with a seat belt?
CS: They are both the same in regards to safety. Many prefer the convenience of using UAS over the seat belt. However, UAS does have a weight limit. Please refer to your vehicle manual as well as your car seat manual to find this out.
When I make the switch to forward facing, can I use the seat belt AND the UAS to keep it extra secure?
CS: Almost all car seats prohibit this. Please read your vehicle and car seat manuals to see if you’re able to! *The Clek Foonf is one of the few seats that can use both the rigid UAS and seat belt in forward facing installation.*
You're full of great information! Is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we sign off?
CS: When you’re getting to the point of removing your child’s booster seat, there is a very simple 5 step test you can do. You can learn more about the 5 Step Test here
. Also, since we’re getting into cooler weather soon, it might be a good idea to start thinking about your car seats relationship with your child’s winter coat. You can read about that here
Do you have any questions for us or Cris on car seats? Let us know in the comments below!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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