Why you should never use aftermarket products on child car seats

Avoid using products that do not come standard with child car seats

I recently received an e-mail from someone working PR for a Kickstarter campaign for a product called the NoBob. Normally I just delete these kinds of e-mails as they don’t have much relevance to my audience (or to me), but this one caught my eye because of how dangerous it is. This product is made to help hold your child’s head in place while napping in the car seat, so their head can’t flop forward or to the side. In theory, it seems like a practical device, however in practice it is incredibly dangerous.

I wrote back to the person doing PR and explained to them that using aftermarket products on child car seats are dangerous for a number of reasons, the first being that most are not crash tested AT ALL. The second being that using aftermarket products on child car seats will void the warranty in case of an accident. Obviously you never want to be in a car accident, but you may have some financial recourse should a child be injured while in a car seat with a valid warranty.

The PR rep wrote back to me trying to draw attention away from the facts by telling me that this specific product (the “NoBob“) had been crash tested and held up extremely well. He also told me that most accidents were caused by distracted driving, which I’m fairly aware of but not exactly sure how it is relevant.

I do believe that this person did make sure their product was crash tested and that she believes it is safe. It likely is. However, you cannot simulate each and every accident in a crash test, and I highly doubt her product was tested on each and ever car seat on the market. I highly doubt ANY aftermarket car seat items are. Ultimately, unless each car seat manufacturer approves it for use with their car seat, it is considered an aftermarket product that will void their warranty. As parents, do we really want to take a risk using an aftermarket product?
(As a side note, when I went to the Kickstarter page, there was a video showing how the product was used. The video depicts a child in a winter jacket strapped in a car seat. Anyone with basic car seat safety knowledge knows how dangerous it is for a child to wear a thick jacket in a car seat, as you are not able to get the straps tight enough and in an accident a child would be easily ejected. Additionally, the car seat straps are twisted, which can also cause the car seat to malfunction during an accident).

What are aftermarket products?
Besides the product I’m talking about (and various other interpretations of it that I’ve seen sold), other aftermarket products that you may be familiar with include:

  • Car seat mats – mats you put the car seat on top of to protect your actual car seat. These can keep the car seat from being able to be installed tight enough.
  • car seat mat

  • Strap covers – sure, they’re cute and soft against your little one’s face and shoulders, but they alter the function of the actual straps. (this photo actually shows TWO big no-no’s for car seats)
  • car seat cover 2

  • Car seat covers – I’ve seen Etsy shops that specialize in embroidered car seats in personalized colors that go over the actual fabric of the original seat. Again, they alter the dimensions of the seat. Perhaps only by millimeters, but in an accident it can make a huge difference.
  • car seat cover

  • Extra padding – some people roll up towels or blankets to prop their children in their seats. Again, it alters the the dimensions and could cause ejection during an accident. (this photo shows two big no-no’s – padding AND strap covers)
  • padding

  • Mirrors and toys – they are great for entertaining infants, but did you know that in case of an accident, like the NoBob, if the handle of an infant seat is up to hold mirrors and toys, it can also present as a decapitation or severe injury hazard? Aside from that, in an accident the mirror or toys could become projectiles.
  • Car seat safety is a passion of mine, and really, it should be for EVERY parent, shouldn’t it? Don’t we want to keep our children as safe as possible, especially in situations we can control? By following the suggestions in this post, you will be helping to keep your child as safe as possible in a properly installed child car seat.

    This entry was posted in car.

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