Is It Safe to Use a Seat Protector Mat With a Child Car Seat Base?

Baby in car seat Photo: Consumer Reports

Babies are adorable but messy. There can be a natural temptation for parents to want to protect their vehicle from the detritus associated with nibbling infants and toddlers. But before buying a protective mat or car seat cover, there are important considerations.

“Seat protector mats fall under what we, as child passenger safety technicians, talk about as third-party or aftermarket products,” says Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports’ auto safety engineer. “And aftermarket products are not approved for use with your child car seats. They have to be approved by car seat manufacturers themselves.”

Your best bet is to contact the car seat manufacturer and ask, says Thomas. You don’t want to put anything between your car seat and the vehicle seat that’s going to interfere with the effectiveness of the child car seat. And seat protector mats could do that unless they already have been crash-tested with specific products.

Some manufacturers sell their own seat protector mats that they’ve already tested, so they know what kind of impact it has on the security of the child seat installation. The smart move is to stick with products that have proved to be safe.

This article has been adapted from an episode of Talking Cars.