Here are the more common after market products. Remember that no federal testing applies to these products. Using one will make your child the “crash test dummy” in the event of a collision. Their effect on the safety of any car seat is unknown, and they should be avoided.
After Market Products
Infant head supports:
These products were designed to offer a young baby’s head more support. The problem with this product is that it goes behind the harness straps. In a crash, the support will compress flat and will leave the harness straps too loose. If your seat came with a support when it was purchased, it is okay to use. It came with the seat and was crash tested with that seat. If your seat did not come with a support, take 2 rolled up receiving blankets and place one on each side of your baby. This will serve the same purpose as a head support and will even cradle the sides of your baby. **Never put anything behind the harness straps!
Harness strap covers:
These products go over the harness straps. It is next to impossible to fully tighten harness straps that are wearing this product. In a crash they will compress and leave the harness straps too loose. Only use covers that originally came with the seat. Only those covers have been crash tested and are safe to use
Seat belt tighteners:
This product is designed to tighten the seat belt and hold the car seat tight. This product can weaken and damage the seat belt and cause it to break or tear in a crash. Click here for more information.
Seat belt adjusters:
These products are particularly dangerous. They are designed to “protect” the child by pulling the seat belt away from the neck. However, these products pull the lap part of the belt up and over the soft tissues of the belly and often times place the shoulder belt in the wrong position. These products are usually held together with velcro or snaps. In a crash, it will come undone and fly off the seat belt.
Many of these companies claim that these products have been tested and meet all safety standards. Again, there are no federal standards for these products, therefore no standards to test against. If your child needs a product such as this, they should be in a booster seat
Roller bar sunshades:
Some sunshades pose a hazard in the vehicle. Many of them are designed with a metal bar at the top and are held onto the window with suction cups. In a crash, these shades can detach from the window and become a projectile. Use the shades that have a suction cup in each corner, or even better, the inexpensive ones that cling to the window.
These mirrors pose the same hazard as the roller bar sunshades. In a crash they will separate from the window or headrest and become a projectile
Car seat covers:
Many times parents replace the car seat cover with either a homemade one or one from another retailer. The only cover that should be used is the one that came with the seat, or one approved by the car seat manufacturer. Car seat covers have to meet federal safety standards and are flame resistant. Homemade and after-market covers do not meet these important safety regulations.
Car seat mats:
Be very wary of car seat mats. These products are designed to go under the car seat to protect the vehicle upholstery. Some of these products are thick and slippery. If you use one of these products, it should be no more than 1/4″ thick. If your car seat is loose or slides with this product, discontinue using it.
Car seat toys:
There is an entire line of specially made toys that attach directly to the car seat. Many times these toys have hard plastic parts. In a crash it will either detach and become a projectile, or the child will hit their head or become entangled in it. These products can also interfere with the installation of the seat.
Car seat bunting:
This product goes around the seat and behind the harness straps. Once again, in a crash the padding will compress flat and will leave the harness straps too loose.
Baby B’ Air travel vests:
The safest way for a baby to travel in an airplane is in a carseat. Turbulence causes serious injuries in young children. The strap connecting the parent and child is long enough to allow the child to contact hard surfaces inside the airplane. The child is also sitting in the parent’s crush zone. Please click here to learn more about turbulence and why you should use a child restraint on an airplane