Are Car Seat Liners Safe?

baby in car seat

If your baby spends any amount of time strapped in a car seat as you drive to the grocery store or Grandma's, you've probably considered what you can do to make your little one a wee bit more comfortable. Maybe you've spotted those cushiony car seat liners and thought, My, that looks like heaven to sit on; Junior will love it! Or you've seen those car seat covers that create an accordion-style lip over the top of the seat and thought, What a great way to keep the sun out of his eyes!

But before you plunk down your money, know this: car seat experts say that unless that liner or cover came with your car seat when you bought it, there's no guarantee it's safe.


"As a general rule, if the car seat manufacturer did not provide the liner or cover specifically for use with your seat, don’t use it," says Nathaniel Washatka, Cincinnati Children’s Certified Child Passenger Safety Tech and a Project Specialist at Buckle Up for Life.

The reason: car seat manufacturers don't crash-test their seats with all the various after-market products in stores. As a result no one knows how these items will react in a collision. And liners present other concerns as well.

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"In order to work properly, the car seat’s harness straps need to hold your child securely in the seat," Washatka explains. "Puffy liners may alter the fit and snugness of those harness straps."

Another potential danger with liners and covers is the fabric. "Car seat manufacturers use special fabrics that have fire retardant fibers on them to protect children in case of a car fire," Washatka continues. "Some of the fabrics used for covers and lining may have the opposite effect."

Fortunately, many car seats come with optional liners designed to make the seat more comfortable for small children -- these have been crash tested and are safe to use. But beyond these pre-approved items, it's probably best to steer clear.

What's your biggest question or struggle with car seats?


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