Are Baby Car Seat Protectors Safe?

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Most car owners, especially the expectant parents, ask how to protect their car seats. This is a common question for those who wonder what car seat protectors can do to the untouched vehicle interior and on how effective it is on protecting the car from food mess and spilled beverages.

The answer here is “it depends.” Some car seats permit the use of car seat protectors. Hence it’s safe. However, others don’t allow, so it’s unsafe.

In this post, I will explain to you in detail the answer to this question.

Protect Your Vehicle Seat

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Every car seat has a manual. So before you consider purchasing a car seat protector, see to it that it’s permitted according to the car seat’s manual.

The manufacturer may allow a specific brand of seat protector underneath. Some will just recommend you to use a towel or a blanket. However, others will specify that nothing should be placed under the car seat at all.

How Can Car Seat Protectors Be Dangerous?

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A thick car seat protector between a car seat and vehicle seat creates a space between two. If the car seat protector changes shifts in time, it can loosen the installation of your car seat.

So, to understand if the car seat protector is for you, there are some tests which you can do.

In the force of a crash, the thick fabric can compress. When that thick fabric compresses under the weight of the car seat, it might uninstall in an instant.

Car seat protectors with grippy sides might look like it can grip the vehicle seat nicely. But, in reality, it can’t.

Way back, a shelf liner was used to help with car seat installation, but it’s no longer a part of the CPST (Child Passenger Safety Test) curriculum. The reason is that it can mask a loose install and that it can also damage your car seats permanently.

Generally speaking, a properly installed car seat won’t damage your vehicle seats. Don’t worry about the dents as it will eventually go away. Even a car seat protector won’t guarantee to prevent that anyway. The best way to take care of your vehicle’s interior is to use proper cleaning products.

Are Car Seat Protectors Crash Tested?

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Some manufacturers test their car seat protectors and ensure that they comply with FMVSS or the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This may look convincing. However, there are no car seat protectors in the FMVSS standard. There are no qualifications for testing these products.

No one knows how the car seat protector was tested and how it performed.

But, when a company tested a particular car seat protector and approves it for use with their car seats, you can rely on them as they’ve done their testing and that it is safe to use with their car seats.

Testing A Seat Protector

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Here’s how to see if a specific car seat protector works under your child’s car seat:

  1. Ensure the car seat manufacturer permits your car seat protector.
  2. Read the car seat manual and follow the car seat instructions. Make sure that the car seat moves no more than an inch at the belt path side to side and front to back.

Test for Movement

Does your child’s car seat or base move more than an inch at the belt path? In most cases, the car seat moves more than an inch.

If the car seat’s tightness has to be adjusted even when the seat protector is removed, it is too bulky to use.

Overall Thoughts

If you have a car seat protector that is approved for use with your specific child car seat and have tested it and found that it does not interfere with installation, you can decide to continue using that item. Hopefully, in this post, you gain a better idea of what type of car seat protector to use and how to make sure that it’s safe.

Always follow the instructions for both your child’s car seat and car seat protector, and make sure to read the manual carefully. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer or a CPST with concerns.

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