Are you worried that the car seat you are getting for your child is not a good one? Do you want to make sure that your kid has all the safety in the world, while in the car? That will not be accomplished with most aftermarket car seats on the market.
You must be wondering what are non-regulated aftermarket car seats for children? Did you know that all products available right now are considered as non-regulated aftermarket car seats. It is not the seat itself but the accessories that are used with it.
Unless you are buying from the same brand, there will almost always be a mismatch of different safety components, which may make your child more vulnerable.
This article will be focusing on all these issues, so you can make sure that you will not compromise the safety of your child. It may get lengthy, but I can assure you that the read is worth it.
So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it.
Car Seat Accessories To Avoid For Your Child Safety
All of the above accessories that enter the category of non-regulated aftermarket car seats for children will be discussed down below. It is recommended to read this section in its entirety, to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
1. Seat Belt Extenders
It is perfectly rational for parents to get accessories to help a car seat longer than usual. One example of that is getting seat belt extenders, which have been designed for kids who don’t fit in the inbuilt seat belt.
Although it is a logical option for many, the truth about it is that seat belt extenders have not been designed for use with children’s car seats. It is extremely unsafe for this scenario, and it is recommended to invest and buy a booster seat that will accommodate your child more sensibly.
2. Seat Belt Adjusting Accessories
Another accessory that has flooded the market is a seat belt adjuster. What manufacturers advertise with this product is that it can adjust itself according to the scenario. So, your child’s safety and comfort will always be guaranteed. Well, you guessed it; it is indeed too good to be true.
Plus, there is no guarantee on how this product would perform in an actual crash. So, do you want to risk the safety of your child with unsubstantiated claims? You perform the Five-Step Test, which will help you in confirming if the adjuster is safe or not.
3. Headrests For Booster Seats
Claiming to improve the comfort of your child is another accessory. Although most car seats have their headrests, these claim to be more comfortable than them. There are many alarming factors that you should take a look at before buying one. First of all, a headrest may interfere with the safety mechanisms of the seat itself.
This includes blocking air curtains and restraints. Plus, if the child’s size is small, the new headrest will end up causing more discomfort than the other way around. Instead of this, it is recommended to get a booster seat according to your child’s height. (Here’s how to fit your child in a booster seat).
4. Footrests For Children’s Car Seats
Like the previous one, a footrest is another accessory that claims to greatly increase the comfort and safety of your child. I am here to tell you that the opposite of this is the truth. These marketing strategies are what lure parents all around the world. First of all, the install should be perfect.
If it is loose and moves, its ability to protect your kid will no longer matter. That is not all. The loose installation could also mean that they may fly off in the case of a crash. A better alternative is to use a foam cube, which can be easily found on the market nowadays. You may have to secure it, but it is much better than a footrest.
5. Infant Pillows
Another eye-catching marketing strategy is to claim that the car seat you have is not the best in class in terms of comfort. To solve that issue, companies offer pillows designed to go on booster seats.
They may be comfortable, but they will greatly affect the safety features present in the child seat. This includes the harness, which means that your child may be propelled forward, due to an insecure fit, in the case of a crash.
It is recommended to get accessories like this one from the car seat manufacturer. If not, the best alternative is to use blankets to make the sitting experience more comfortable.
6. Shoulder Pads
Another seemingly harmless accessory may greatly affect the safety of your child. Although it is completely natural for parents to seek out the best things for their children, they do have to make sure that the accessory they are getting is good enough. Unfortunately, shoulder pads do not exist in that category.
These pads will make the harness fit tighter and may even affect the speed of chest travel in the case of a crash. Neither have these products been crash-tested nor have they been tested will all sorts of car seats. A good alternative is to adjust the tightness of the harness according to the preference of your child.
7. Weather Protection Accessories
These accessories have been designed to protect your child from nature’s elements. Whether it be hot or cold, manufacturers claim that your child will have excellent protection. Just like with shoulder pads, the extra layer will affect the safety of your child. The speed of travel during an impact may vary.
These products come between the restraint and the child, which may impact its ability to work properly. There are no real alternatives for this product. However, if you live in a cold area, then a cover may make sense. These covers may also have compatibility issues, but they are certainly better than other accessories.
8. Seat Safety Equipment
Seat safety accessories are designed to stabilize a booster seat even more. In theory, it is a great product and will definitely increase the safety of your child. But the reality is much more different. The thing is, a seat protector will be installed between the seat and the restraint.
This prohibits the restraint from working properly. Plus, all of them have been designed differently. Even the difference in textures can affect the usability of the car seat. As booster seats are already pretty secure, it is better to rely on them instead of aftermarket safety equipment, such as this one.
9. Custom Covers
Most booster seats on the market are not pretty. There is no doubt about that. The manufacturers’ color choices are not appealing at all. Well, custom covers aim to eliminate that issue. Available in all sorts of sizes and designs, they promise to breathe new life in the look of your child seat.
Although they don’t fail to do that, there is another thing that one must keep in mind. These seat covers interfere with the harness, which will impact the safety of your child. To prevent that, you should only get covers from the car seat manufacturer. They have been tested with your car seat, so you don’t have anything to worry about.
Although they do look pretty, most of these covers don’t meet the flammability requirements. What this means is that they are much more prone to catching fire than the fabric on the car seat itself.
10. Toys For Kids
Long journeys are boring. Whether it be adults or kids, they would do anything to lessen that boredom. For kids, at least, toys are the answer. Whether it be handheld ones or ones that can be hooked on the booster seat, parents seem to think this is the answer to keep their children distracted.
The ones that hang on the seats can be quite dangerous. As only one side is connected, they can shake vigorously, causing pieces to fall and break off. If there is a mirror in the toy, then it gets pretty dangerous. I would advise parents to shift to rubber-based toys, which are durable and pose no risk.
11. Water Resistant Pads
Another great invention that parents buy in the blink of an eye is a waterproof pad. Children are not easy to handle. They pick up and throw things, mostly their food bowls and glasses. Well, if that food or drink comes into contact with the seat, there will be a permanent stain there.
These waterproof pads are designed to sit on the seat, avoiding contact of food items with the fabric. They can be slippery, which is something not good for when there is an unexpected accident. You should not use anything as washing the fabric will clear the stain almost every single time.
12. Cup Holders
So, your child lost or breaks his cup that came with the car seat? Well, you can order a new one from virtually anywhere. They will fit easily, but the problem is that they may be loose. If there is an accident or a sudden brake, the cup may fly free. It can hit the child or even cause a spill in your vehicle.
The latter is not that important but is something one must consider. So, if you need a replacement cup, then you need to get one from the manufacturer of the car seat. This way, you will not have to worry about the cup holder not housing the cup properly.
What Do Manufacturers Say About Non-Regulated Aftermarket Car Seats?
It is completely understandable if you don’t trust this website due to being unfamiliar with it. I have also attached quotes taken directly from some of the top car seat manufacturers around the globe. This will help you in deciding what the right thing is.
Britax states, in the user manual of its Marathon 70 car seat that non-Britax accessories, such as toys and covers, will adversely affect the safety offerings of their product. They recommend buying Britax-approved products only; making sure that there is compromise on your kid’s safety and security.
Chicco is another very popular manufacturer. I have had the opportunity to check out some of its products before, and it makes phenomenal car seats. Their lineup consists of car seat accessories too, which should be the natural choice for all Chicco car seat owners. The manufacturer strictly warns users against using unsupported accessories with this car seat.
The manufacturer even went ahead to say that accessories made by any other company will void the warranty of the product. Although it may seem like that the brand is looking to promote its sales, the reality is, these accessories affect the functioning of the product.
This company is another very famous one. Based in the USA, the manufacturer makes excellent quality car seats. The user manual for the CLEK FOONF states that any accessories used with its product will alter the performance. If you hang toys and modify the product, you cannot expect to have the advertised level of safety and performance.
Other brands, such as Combi and Evenflo, also have the same exact wordings. This confirms that aftermarket accessories do more harm than good. So, it is recommended to get such stuff only from companies that make the car seat you own.
If you want a big brand that also says this, then I have got you covered. GRACO clearly states that the restraint should not be modified in any manner. This means no shoulder pads. It went on to clarify that, parts and accessories made by other manufacturers should not be used.
What Are Car Seat Accessories Safe To Use?
After all of this, you may be left wondering, are there any accessories that can be used without risking or compromising anything? In fact, there are some things that a person can use to improve the comfort of his or her child. You should definitely read this part of the article.
1. Car Seat Blankets
A lightweight blanket is perfect for a car seat. As it has little to no thickness, it will cover the child, protecting him from the cold weather while not interfering with the safety mechanism of the car seat.
There are many different options for blankets. You can use the ones at home or ones that have been cut according to the seat’s specifications—this way, all of it will be used. I must repeat this again; heavy and padded blankets must be avoided at all costs.
2. Car Seat Canopies
Another good accessory is a car seat canopy. Now, the vote on this product is 50/50. Some experts think that it is not good, while others think that it will not affect the seat’s ability to work properly. After much research, I must say that I side with the latter.
These canopies have many purposes, including shielding your child from the sun and UV rays. But you must make sure that it does not cause suffocation. These canopies are not advised for use in areas with high moisture. The constricted space will make it difficult for your child to breathe.
3. Child Safety Locks
Another great accessory is a child safety lock. When children grow up, they become extremely intelligent. Their thinking reaches the point that they can unbuckle themselves at any point. This is extremely risky in cases of accidents.
Well, there is a solution, and that is getting a child safety lock. They prevent accidental unbuckling of the harness, making sure that they will be safe and secure at all times.
4. Neck Pillows
Is your little one complaining about pain in the neck after long rides? Well, the perfect solution to this problem is a neck pillow. Yes, these pillows are designed just like the one’s adult use, but they fit around the headrest of the car seat. This way, the child’s head will not flop forward, and there will be ample support for him or her when they go to sleep.
Which Type Of Car Seat Should I Get?
I assume that you already know the size and dimensions of the seat you are getting. This answer is focused on accessories in mind. Well, you should go for big brands that also make a lot of accessories.
Companies like Chicco and GRACO are one of the best options out there. You can browse their catalogs and choose the accessory which you think will work with their products. I must clarify that Chicco accessories must be used with Chicco car seats only. The same applies to Graco products too.
There are some other considerations to be made too. If you are in the USA, like the majority of my readers, then you should make sure that the seat you are getting is FMVSS 213 approved.
This basically confirms if the product is NHTSA compliant or not. If a car seat does not have that label, then you can land into trouble with the authorities for using it in your vehicle. This also means that they may not be properly crash tested. So, you should not rely on them to work properly in case of unexpected crashes.
There is one more thing that one should always be worried about before buying an accessory for their children. They should make sure that the design of the product they are getting should not be harmful to their kids.
Even the accessories must be FMVSS 213 cleared. This will give you the peace of mind that the product you are getting will not cause any issues.
No matter how good they look, non-regulated aftermarket car seats for children will compromise the safety of your child. They may even affect the comfort of products such as shoulder pads.
As has been covered extensively in this topic, you can get accessories, but only from brands that make the car seat, you have at home. Although chances of accidents are less, it really is not worth it to risk it.
I hope that this article may have clarified some confusion, and it may have helped you in making the correct decisions regarding your child’s safety and comfort during the duration of your ride.
You may be overwhelmed with all the different things you have to check, but you should rest assured that the security of your child will be ensured.
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to create an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.