Being a young mom means we met a little early, but I get to love them longer.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Car Seat Safety: Aftermarket parts


Aftermarket toys, head/body supports, strap covers, car seat covers. All of these things and more are sold at your nearest Wal-Mart, Babies-R-Us, etc. ect. Many people think that because these things are sold in stores, they are safe.
The opposite is actually true. Unless it came with your car seat (many car seats come with head supports, and some come with things like cup holders or strap covers), or was made by your car seat’s manufacturer for that specific car seat, then it is not considered safe. This is because these aftermarket things are not tested with the car seat when it is crash tested.

Toys:
I will admit that Grace had toys on her car seat. I didn’t know that they could be dangerous in a crash. The toys can come lose and act as a projectile. Granted, soft toys probably wouldn’t do much damage, but many of these toys hang, and because of that, they could potentially strangle the child. Not to mention, most car seat toys connect to the handle of an infant carrier, which, as I stated in a past post, is typically supposed to be positioned back (unless stated otherwise in your manual), so they wouldn't be able to play with the toys anyway.

Head/body supports:
This was my most recent car seat blunder. Grace and Brentley both had one of these. I thought I was doing the right thing. It seemed like their heads weren’t supported well enough to me. However, these things can create what I call “deceitful snugness.” You may have you baby strapped in with one of these, and the straps pass the pinch test, so you think everything’s fine. Well, in a crash, that body support can compress, which means that the straps would then be lose.

Strap covers:
These can also create the “deceitful snugness,” and therefore, lose straps in a crash. Another thing they do is, in babies, they almost always make it impossible to have the chest clip on the chest. Babies have such short torsos that it is not possible to have strap covers and the chest clip properly placed.
Fortunately, I have always used the chest clip properly. I was given a set of strap covers when I was pregnant with Grace. And I realized that they pushed the chest clip down, so I never used them.

Car seat covers:
By this, I mean something like this scenario...
Your child does something like spill a drink, have a poo explosion, etc. that creates a massive stain on the car seat, so you buy a new cover. If the cover was not made for that car seat, by that car seat manufacturer, it is not safe. I typically see these on websites like Etsy with incredibly cute prints. It’s like they are drawing the unknowing parents in. These can cause the straps to not come out of their slots properly and can also cause the “deceitful snugness” as well.

There are other things that are sold as well, but the four things I have mentioned are the most common ones that I see. Bottom line, aftermarket parts have not been crash tested, so there is no way to know if they are safe or not, and as the saying goes, it’s better safe than sorry. 

Here are some examples...

Aftermarket strap covers for sure, and it looks to be an aftermarket head support.

Same baby... still has aftermarket strap covers, and now an aftermarket toy.

As you can see in both pictures, the strap covers are pushing the chest clip way too far down. Even as the baby got bigger, they still pushed it down. It is basically touching the bottom buckle, and there is no room for it to move up. And that is a hard toy, so it would almost certainly be a hazard in a crash.

If your child was injured in a crash due to an aftermarket part causing the car seat to not function properly, this typically voids the car seat's warranty.

Now, as to back up my claims, here are some statements from different car seat manufacturers.


"Dorel Juvenile Group does not recommend the use of any car seat accessories except those recommended by the car seat manufacturer." -- This is the company that made the car seats Grace and Brentley have.


"The use of non-Britax Child Safety, Inc covers, inserts, toys,  accessories, or tightening devices is not approved by Britax.  Their use could cause this restraint to fail Federal Safety Standards or perform worse in a crash.  Their use automatically voids the Britax warranty." 


"DO NOT use accessories or parts other than those provided by Graco.  Their use could alter the performance of the car seat." 


"DO NOT attach additional padding, toys, or other devices not made by Evenflo to the child restraint. Items not tested with the child restraint could injure the child."


More of these statements can be found at the link below...
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/AftMarketMan.aspx

5 comments:

  1. OMG. I hate seeing people who use the strap covers! My niece's mom had some of them on her car seat from the minutes she was born. They pushed her chest strap down so far that not only was it touching her buckle, she actually loosened the straps to make more room for the strap covers! She posted a picture of the baby in her car seat and I messaged her and told her how unsafe it was and she did take them off.

    I haven't looked, but do any of these products have warnings on the package that says to check with the car seat manufacturer before use?

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  2. That is a good question. I'm not sure. I'm going to Wal-Mart tomorrow, so I'll have to look into that.

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  3. I've always known not to use the snugglers, head rest and strap covers, but have never thought about toys! I always hung little toys from her infant car seat without a second thought! Thank you for this post I definitely wont do it anymore!

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