Infant Car Seat Cover Safety

Car Seat Basics - Saftey and Car Seat Covers

Baby girl (3-6 months) playing with foot in car seat
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What should you know about infant car seat cover safety before heading to the store?

Infant Care Seat Covers

Infant car seat covers go over your baby's original car seat pad, but still allow the harness straps to fit through.

Why might you need an infant car seat cover?

The most popular reason seems to be these infant care seat covers come in a lot of "hip" designs and fabrics. Although car seats come in a lot of styles and patterns (the Graco SnugRide has 33 styles, from Emerson to Spring Meadow), if you like to change the look or aren't happy with the one that you originally picked, a designer infant car seat cover can be a good idea.

Since they are removable, an infant car seat cover is supposedly easier to clean than the original car seat padding. Keep in mind that the padding/cover in most car seats is removable and washable in a washing machine too.

A more practical reason to have an infant car seat cover might be that they might help to keep your baby warm in the winter, so that you don't have to worry about keeping your baby in a winter coat in her car seat which can be unsafe. (It's been recommended that babies never wear coats in car seats.)  Depending on the fabric, a thick, soft infant car seat cover can be like laying on a warm blanket.

Infant Car Seat Cover Safety

Infant car seat covers are also sometimes marketed as a way to allow you to reuse an old baby car seat. And while a new car seat cover can make an old car seat look like new again, it is important to remember that you usually shouldn't use a car seat that is more than five to ten years old.

Also, you should never use a car seat that has been in a moderate or severe crash, and it is impossible to tell the crash history of a car seat if you buy it used or second-hand.

Keep in mind that car seat covers typically aren't officially supported by car seat manufacturers, so make sure that your car seat cover is safe, fits well, and doesn't interfere with the harness straps on your baby's car seat.

You might even check with your car seat's manufacturer or visit a car seat inspection station before using a car seat cover or other after-market car seat accessory.

Car seat covers are available for most infant and toddler car seats.  Before going to the store or ordering one of these online, check out these additional safety tips on car seat covers.  For example, it's important to know that many car seat covers are not made with flame retardant materials.  In addition, some of these covers will not fit perfectly in some car seats, and unfortunately, testing of car seats does not include the safety of car seat accessories such as covers.  In other words, it's impossible to know if and how these covers could impact safety in the event of a crash.

Cover Your Baby's Car Seat

If your main concern is keeping your baby warm in cold weather, instead of a car seat cover, which is more precisely known as a car seat pad cover or car seat slip cover, you could use a cold weather boot or cover that goes over the whole car seat after your baby is buckled in.

A cold weather boot or infant seat boot just goes over your baby's legs, but if you usually have your baby in an infant carrier with a canopy, then she will be fairly well protected from the weather.

An infant car seat cover with an elastic edge that goes over the top of your baby's car seat, with an opening for her face, is another good way to keep her warm. They usually include a zipper down the middle to make it easy to get your baby in and out of her car seat.

Since neither a car seat cover or car seat boot actually touches the car seat's harness straps, they should be as safe as tucking "a blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps," as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing in the winter.

Product List

Here is an example of some products that are available (without any specific recommendations):

  • Bundle Me Infant by JJ Cole - Compare Prices - a combination infant seat cover and blanket that has actually been crash tested to make sure your baby's car seat is still safe while you are using it.
  • Graco Infant Car Seat Boot and Blanket - Compare Prices
  • BumbleRide Infant Car Seat Covers - Compare Prices
  • Britax Marathon Car Seat Covers - Compare Prices
  • Reversible Infant Car Seat Covers - Compare Prices
  • Reversible Toddler Car Seat Covers - Compare Prices
  • Hot Toddies Infant Car Seat Covers - Compare Prices

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthychildren.org. Winter Car Seat Safety Tips from the AAP. Updated 12/14/15. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Winter-Car-Seat-Safety-Tips.aspx

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