Every parent wants their child to be safe while traveling. That’s why infant car seats are an important accessory. With the right car seat and the proper car seat strap placement, you reduce the risk of your child getting injured in the event of an accident. In fact, a study discovered that using car seats with the proper seat harness saved over 9,000 children under the age of five between 1975 and 2010.
Aside from safety, your child’s comfort is also important. Whether it’s the winter or summer months, an infant car seat cover can help keep your baby cozy and protected from the warm or cold weather.
Are infant car seat covers safe, however?
Infant Car Seat Cover Safety
It might sound like a simple question but the answer is a little more complex than you think. Based on my research, infant car seat covers are safe provided you choose the right ones. Otherwise, the risk for injury is greater. You might also expose your child to other dangers like lack of air circulation or overheating.
Before anything else, it’s crucial to understand that seat covers aren’t intended to replace the car seat’s foam or cushion. That isn’t safe and can even affect a car seat’s performance during a crash.
That said, choosing the right type of car seat cover needs careful consideration. There are several factors to consider when picking one, but these general guidelines may help:
- Avoid picking car seat covers that zip all the way up to your child’s face. Even a lightweight material like “breathable” cotton poses the risk of rebreathing carbon dioxide, which can be fatal.
- Instead, get car seat covers that allow your child’s face to be visible. One with a large mesh panel will work as long as it allows you to clearly see your child breathing.
- Try not to pick seat canopies that are strapped on the seat handle. Even if you lift the cover, there’s a risk that the fabric might fall down. This can cause suffocation, especially for kids who may have a respiratory problem to begin with. They might have a hard time crying or alerting you to their discomfort.
- If the car seat came with its own cover, use that instead of buying aftermarket products. This is because seat manufacturers have already crash-tested the car seat cover to be the most effective for their model.
What Kind of Infant Car Seat Cover Should You Use?
If your infant car seat didn’t come with its own car seat cover in the original packaging, you can still definitely buy one. You’ll find different options to choose from, but not all of them adhere to safety standards. Here are three types of car seats that you’ll usually see when shopping for one:
|Car Seat Type||Goes Where?||Safety|
|1. Sleeping bag style||Under and over the baby’s body||Not safe|
|2. Slipcovers||Under the baby’s body||Not safe|
|3. Shower cap style||Over the baby’s body||Safe|
Sleeping Bag Style
As the name suggests, sleeping bag-style seat covers are like sleeping bags. They go over and under the baby’s body and harness like a bundle. That’s exactly why they’re unsafe. This kind of bundling affects the car seat’s performance. Not only can the straps feel uncomfortable but they aren’t actually keeping your baby in place — only the bundle.
Slipcovers are more like pads that go directly on top of a car seat cover’s fabric. Most slipcovers are marketed to parents who don’t know what to do with an old car seat when the original padding becomes dirty or is missing.
On the other hand, parents who want to beautify their infant car seats might think it’s fine to use slipcovers. Avoid this at all costs as slipcovers go under the baby’s body. Again, this can affect the seat’s ability to protect your child during a crash.
Shower Cap Style
Unlike the first two options, shower cap style car seat covers are the safest. This is because they go over the child’s body and the harness after you’ve securely strapped your baby into the car seat. This won’t affect the car seat’s protective capabilities.
The elastic edge also makes shower cap style seat covers adjustable. They also have an opening for your baby’s face. This lets your child breathe properly and doesn’t cause a greenhouse effect.
Why Are Infant Car Seat Covers Important?
Aside from keeping your child safe and cozy, infant car seat covers also have other advantages. If you’re wondering why you should choose the right seat covers, here are a few more compelling reasons:
- Say goodbye to the puffy winter coat. With car seat covers, you don’t have to bundle your child up in a car seat. As I mentioned earlier, this is unsafe and affects the harness straps. With the right car seat cover, you can keep your baby warm and protected.
- Your baby can sleep better while traveling. They won’t feel cold and they’ll be kept secure in a comfy car seat!
- Car seat covers keep germs away. If your car seat cover has a mesh barrier, it can help shield your baby from sneeze droplets or from someone coughing nearby.
- Most car seat covers made by seat manufacturers are also flame-resistant. That’s an extra layer of safety for your child in case an accident happens.
Is It Worth It To Get an Infant Seat Cover?
Definitely! The right infant seat cover will do wonders in keeping your child warm without a blanket or bulky clothing. At the same time, the right infant seat cover will keep them secure for the rest of your ride.
Don’t forget to also get a comfy but sturdy car seat that’s appropriate for your child. Keep in mind that car seats age and actually have an expiration date. It’s important to also check other information, such as how long can newborns be in a car seat, to make sure that the necessary adjustments are made when traveling long distances.
Steph is a passionate mom who co-founded Wumblers to share her parenting journey with others. She graduated from Concordia University with a masters degree in Education Technology and worked as an advisor for many years. Steph loves being a mom and wants to have more kids.
Learn more about Steph and Wumblers here.