Are Car Seat Inserts Safe for Your Little Ones? Best 2023 Guide!

Are you a parent worried about your little one's safety when traveling in the car? Of course, you want to ensure their utmost protection and comfort – but are infant inserts safe for your baby's car seat? You may have heard conflicting advice from friends or family regarding the use of car seat insert products.

To clear up any confusion and help parents decide what's best for their child, this blog post covers everything you need to know about are car seat inserts safe. We'll explore key safety considerations and discuss why these accessories might benefit young riders.

So if you're looking for an informative guide on keeping your kids secure while they ride, read on!


Take Away Key Points:

  • Infant inserts and head supports are safe only when coming with car seats
  • Do not use the aftermarket products, as you can cause neck and spinal injuries to your kids and hurt them in car accidents
  • Read the instruction manual to see how to use the inserts correctly

How safe are infant inserts in car seats? All you need to know

Although child restraint inserts might sound like a great idea for additional support for your baby, you must remember that aftermarket products are not the best solution for your little ones. These might not be crash-tested; therefore, they cannot ensure the car seat safety standards.

So, let's see what inserts are allowed and safety tips for using them correctly in car seats.

1. Are aftermarket infant inserts safe for an infant seat?

are car seat infant inserts safe

It is imperative that only items that are sold with a child's car seat or with the written permission of the manufacturer should be used. Any other item can seriously impact the proper placement of the harness straps and change how the head and chest would travel during a crash. 

This can have catastrophic results, particularly for newborns or young infants whose airways could be compromised if the baby's head is pushed forward. Refer to the car seat's manual for further instructions in this regard.

But there might be a solution to this issue. For cases where an approved option is unavailable, it can be safe to use tightly rolled-up blankets clear of the harness and alongside (not over) the newborn baby, provided the car seat manufacturer approves it.

2. Newborn baby's head & infant car seat head support

Whenever a newborn baby is leaning against or dangling over the straps of an infant car seat, it can be tempting to try and stuff something into the little one's car seat for added comfort. However, it is ultimately up to you to decide whether this is necessary.

Various products claim to make sleeping in an infant car seat more comfortable and safe, but whether or not these claims have been tested and certified is unclear

You don't necessarily have to purchase the most expensive option for the infant car seat to meet safety standards, so you can feel confident in whichever product you choose.

Ultimately, it pays to trust what your gut instinct tells you about the situation at hand. If there's any doubt about how safe a particular product may be, always check with your healthcare provider first.

Regarding aftermarket add-ons for car seats, it's often best to avoid them altogether. However, your circumstances should be considered when making an informed decision on this subject matter.

Of course, you must check with the car seat manufacturer to determine whether the car seat accessories can affect the baby's head and endanger the child's safety. If the car seat manual forbids the use of head support and similar car seat accessories for your child's head, do not use them.

3. Is a neck support pillow good for a baby in the rear-facing car seat?

A pillow is similar to head support in a rear-facing infant car seat. In some cases, it might give beneficial support to the baby's head.

However, a neck support pillow should be avoided when it comes to car seats. It is important that the baby fits in the rear-facing car seat correctly and that the harness straps are adjusted according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Furthermore, it is recommended to check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) before buying and using any infant seat product, even if it hasn't been recalled yet, as this organization provides information on any potential safety concerns related to the product.

4. Are harness covers or harness pads good for an infant seat?

Many aftermarket shoulder strap pads or covers add bulk to the harness and interfere with tightening the harness and proper chest clip placement in the infant car seat. This could alter the distance and speed at which the head and chest travel during a crash, thus resulting in severe injury or death.

Although these products may appear harmless, they are not tested for every car seat model, so it is impossible to predict how they would perform during a crash accurately. Refer to your car seat's manual for more details on this subject, as it likely contains language that prohibits the use of any such infant inserts.

If your child experiences discomfort, try pulling their shirt up between the harness and neck to ease it. Additionally, be sure that the harness is not overly tight and that it is set at a suitable height for your child.

Make the shoulder straps snug enough to keep your baby's spinal cord in line. Thus, you will also preserve the right position of the newborn's head.

Perform a small test to check the straps - if you can fit two fingers under the straps, they will be too loose. Once the straps are tight, ensure you place the chest clip in the right position in line with your baby's armpits and never underneath the children. A crotch buckle should be the closest to your baby but never at its bottom to prevent slouching in the car seat.

Your car seat's manual should state when or if the harness pads can be removed. It may also be possible to purchase approved strap covers from the manufacturer, so do check with them to see if this option is available.

are aftermarket car seat inserts safe

5. Are toys and mirrors good for an infant seat?

In the event of an accident, any item in your back seat, except for the car seat, can be a potential hazard. For example, a mirror could shatter or become dangerous if it detaches from its current position and become a projectile.

Toys placed on the seat (especially at the handle of a rear-facing infant seat) can injure the child if they fly too to their face or potentially put them at risk of strangulation, depending on how long and flexible the object is.

6. Choosing the right car seat accessories and infant inserts

If the car seat is not providing sufficient support for the baby, switching to a smaller size is recommended by the manufacturer.

You can also purchase a car seat that comes with infant car seat safety inserts designed to be part of its overall safety package and has been through rigorous testing.

Baby Trend Secure Snap, Graco Extend To Fit, and Peg Perego Nido are three great options. The former two have removable inserts, which allow more space as the baby grows, while the latter offers six different positions for the straps and ten settings for the legs.

7. Car seat head support for toddlers

When your children grow older and their needs for car seat protection change, there is a range of good models with features that accommodate their growth. However, it is important to note that head support is not as much of an issue in larger car seats. Despite this, you may spot your child draped over the straps, drooling away.

Nevertheless, even the most effective forward-facing car seats will have limited capacity to accommodate naps during a long drive. Lastly, never leave your baby or toddler to take a nap in a car seat unsupervised, as such positioning can potentially block their airways - always ensure they rest in an environment approved for safe sleep.

8. Car seat head pillow for toddlers

If you have a long journey ahead, here are a few ways to ensure your toddler is comfortable while maintaining car seat head support safety.

We advise you to be cautious when buying additional items, such as infant pillows, for the child's car seat. The recall for Boppy brand products was due to them being potentially overstuffed, so it's wise to audit the product in terms of physics before purchasing it.

Lastly, look for positions that force the infant to tuck their chin into their chest - this could prove dangerous. Instead, strive for positions that keep the neck and respiratory pathways free at all times, simultaneously keeping the head control optimal. As a result, your children won't suffer from neck injuries, and they can fall asleep comfortably during long car rides.

9. Are car seat covers good for child restraints?

Car seat covers that are not produced by the manufacturer and have not been tested with the car seat should be avoided. They can affect the fit of the harness, flammability, and how far and fast your child's head and chest move in an accident - this could potentially lead to fatal results. Therefore, it is best to stick with covers approved for use by your specific model of restraint.

If you need to replace the cover due to wear, tear, or damage, it is best to purchase a replacement directly from the manufacturer. If you prefer second-hand covers, make sure they are labeled with the brand and other required information to ensure they meet safety standards to keep your baby safe.

10. Are seat belt extenders good for a booster seat?

Products designed for people who need additional webbing when using the vehicle seatbelt are available from various vendors. Still, they are not suitable for use with car seats or booster seats.

Although, in recent years, some families have been utilizing these unregulated products to provide a more accessible seat belt buckle to their booster riders, this is a risky scenario that should be avoided. It is much safer to opt for a differently-shaped booster seat than adding an extender to your child's belt.

The shoulder and lap belt path must be in the proper positions to keep the child adjusted correctly in the booster. The shoulder strap must cover the chest and shoulder, while the lap strap must cover the hips and upper thighs.

11. Are seat belt adjusters good for children in boosters?

Products such as these may move the adult seat belt into a better position for the child pre-collision, but there is no way to tell how they would perform in a crash.

If the product is necessary for the correct fit of the vehicle seat belt, it is unlikely that it will pass the Five Step Test. Therefore, it is recommended that the child rides in a booster seat.

12. Are headrests good for children in boosters?

are infant car seat inserts safe

In the event of a crash, the Cardiff Booster Seat Headrest or the Travel Headrest could potentially interfere with active head restraints and side-impact air curtains or reduce the level of protection for smaller riders, leading to possible head and neck injuries.

When mounted on a vehicle head restraint, it forces the headrest to be at an elevated position that might not fit riders properly. Also, if leaning on the side to use the Cardiff Headrest, there is a risk of being too far from the seat belt to receive adequate protection.


Are baby car seat liners safe?

No, baby car seat liners are not safe as they go between the harness and children. In addition, the AAP finds them unreliable since they will create a slack between a harness and a user.

Does a car seat need a newborn insert?

The set will need a newborn insert only if they come together from the same procure. Otherwise, you must not add aftermarket monsters.

How long do you use the newborn insert in a car seat?

Parents generally remove the centers after five or six months.

Are baby car seat cushions safe?

No, the cushions are not safe if not approved by the manufacturers or safety experts.

Can you wash car seat inserts?

Yes, you can wash the padding and cover it on a delicate cycle with a mild detergent.

How to put in a car seat insert?

Follow the steps below:

- Read your car seat's manual & vehicle owner's manual. 

- Place the seat base in the back seat of your car

- Carefully thread the seat belt through the rear-facing belt path

- Buckle the seat belt

- Lock the seat belt

- Press down firmly on the car seat base to tighten it.


You must install the new car seat correctly, follow height and weight requirements, and find the best recline angle with a recline indicator for your baby.

Most car seats will come with allowed infant inserts, so do not use any aftermarket products if they are not approved by the NHTSA or manufacturers.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

Leave a Comment