The 10 Best Car Seat Protectors
10. Ohuhu Baby
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- lightweight and easy to maneuver
- only comes in one color combo
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
9. Baby Caboodle
- headrest strap is easy to tighten
- resists stains from spillage
- doesn't conform to the seat well
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
8. StayNpro CSP01BK-01
- includes an e-book for tips and info
- adjustable headstrap for stability
- backing isn't very grippy
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
7. Munchkin Auto Seat
- easy to fold up for storage
- fabric repels liquids
- sticky back tends to melt off
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
6. Summer Infant Elite DuoMat
- textured vinyl front
- back panel folds for the perfect fit
- sticky back may ruin leather seats
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. Smiinky SM-252
- machine washable for easy care
- safe to use on leather seats
- not as tall as others
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
4. Prince Lionheart 2
- comes in 3 neutral colors
- bottom tray keeps it level
- base connects with heavy duty velcro
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
3. Bebe by Me Royal
- heavy duty double layer design
- spacious mesh organizer
- heat resistant backing
|Brand||Bebe by Me|
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Diono Super Mat
- works with all carriers and boosters
- latch compatible
- tuck-in panel for a secure fit
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
1. Brica Seat Guardian
- simple to clean with a wet cloth
- antislip grips on both sides
- color doesn't bleed onto seats
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
Why You Need A Car Seat Protector
Using a booster seat can be rough on your car’s interior, especially if you have a more delicate, luxurious fabric inside, like leather or suede. And if you frequently need to switch your booster seat between other vehicles, you are essentially doubling the amount of wear and tear you're putting on your car's upholstery, which can quickly lead to dents in the seat and premature wear The problem is further exacerbated if you’re using certain booster seat models that have designs with sharp corners or edges that can dig into your car’s interior, possibly leading to more serious damage on the seat that you might not be able to fix.
While these problems pale in comparison to the benefits of ensuring a secure fit for your child’s booster seat, finding a good car seat protector enables you to have the best of both worlds: a pristine interior and a safe ride for your little one. The quality and safety of these items varies widely from product to product, however, so it’s very important for you to have the right protector for the job. An inferior model can lead to your booster seat’s installation shifting over time, making the fit looser and more dangerous for your child.
When you do find the ideal combination of protector and booster seat, not only will you enjoy the benefits of a much cleaner interior, but depending on the style of car seat protector you end up using, you may even have exrta some places to store your child’s things. It’s a sight easier than fishing for them blindly on the ground.
A Brief History of Car Seat Protectors
The booster seat may date back to 1962, but one of the first patents for a car seat protector only dates back to 2006. It was a soft, flexible mat the user placed on the vehicle’s seat, providing a non-slip surface on which to place the booster seat. It featured a pocket panel that hung off the front of the seat for storage.
Interestingly enough, one of the reasons for the advent of the protector was to reduce the the chances of the booster seat slipping upon the surface of the vehicle's seat itself. While many websites claim the opposite is true, the dense plastics manufacturers use in the construction of most booster seats may not get the best traction on materials like leather and vinyl. Katherine Gold and Lynn Rosen, the car seat protector inventors, designed the first car seat protector to combat this issue, while also being easy to clean and maintain.
The nylon used in the initial model was washable and inexpensive to produce, making it ideal for such an application. Rubberized rectangles made up the non-slip surface for the booster seat to sit upon, effectively holding it in place. Finally, a retaining member secured the car seat protector to the vehicle's seat.
There’s not much of a difference between that first soft car seat protector and the ones we see on the market today. There are now models that cover both the bottom and back of the vehicle's seat for enhanced protection, and the materials used to create them have changed, but that's about it. If you are so inclined, you can still quite easily find models that only cover the bottom of the vehicle's seat, just like the very first version.
The Ins And Outs Of Owning A Car Seat Protector
In short, you want a protector that will do its job, while it also lets the booster seat do its job. There seem to be two different schools of design when it comes to the car seat protector: the hard-style protector and the soft-style. This refers mainly to the materials used in fabrication. Soft-style models are a flexible sheet or mat, while hard-style protectors are solid and inflexible.
Most manufacturers make soft-style protectors from nylon or polyester, with a gripping material like rubber or PVC to create a secure hold on the booster seat. They’re easy to install and easy to take out. While not in use, they take up much less space than hard-style models due to their flexibility. However, over time crumbs and juice may seep into the fabric, deteriorating the look. But at least it’s better and much less costly to replace than damaging your actual upholstery.
Hard-style protectors are usually crafted from hard rubber or dense polyurethane. They are akin to car mats in how they look and feel, but instead of protecting your car's floors, they protect your vehicle's seats and provide a solid base for the booster seat. The hard surface means that it’s going to be much easier to clean than soft-style models. But if you have a lighter-toned protector, they might have a tendency to stain more easily than darker soft-style or hard-style models. Car seat protectors of this type are more susceptible to scratches and scuffs, as well. Again, it’s a worthwhile trade to replace a relatively inexpensive accessory instead of reupholstering your vehicle's seat. While knowing the difference between the two types of car seat protectors is important, making sure the booster seat you have is compatible with a car seat protector at all should be a top priority.
Always consider the instructions of the booster seat manufacturer when purchasing a car seat protector. There are some manufacturers who do not recommend car seat protectors with their products for safety purposes. Incorrectly installing a booster seat is one of the leading causes of death for children involved in a car accident. So, always err on the side of caution and follow the manufacturers recommended use guidelines. Ideally, you’ll be shopping for a car seat and car seat protector simultaneously, so you can ensure the correct combination.