Q&A: car seats in hot weather

People in NYC and Long Island–you can still win tickets to the Thomas Live shows, courtesy of PBS Sprout. Just scroll down and leave a memory in the comments of the posts from yesterday. I'll close them this evening and post the winners tonight.

Heather writes:

"Any suggestions {or perhaps your community will have them} for aconvertible car seat for a VERY sweaty baby who is about to have his
first Georgia summer? I love our infant system seat but even in the
winter he'd come out of it sweat soaked. I need ideas if anybody has
got them."

I am out of the car seat loop personally (my younger is in the same convertible I've had for years, and my older is in a belt-positioning booster), but this almost seems like more of a car seat *cover* issue than a car seat issue.

Most of the car seat covers seem to be made of that plush polyester that is supposed to feel nice, but really doesn't breathe. So maybe the question should be whether people know of a car seat that comes with a cover made of natural fibers, or if there's a natural fiber cover you can buy to fit car seats.

I know there are plenty of you out there in hot climates who must have some best practices for car seats in hot weather to share with Heather and the rest of the readers. Suggestions?

36 thoughts on “Q&A: car seats in hot weather”

  1. We have a twill-covered (at least I think it’s twill) Britax Marathon that keeps my sweaty ladies sweat free. We had to spend a little extra for it–it’s one of the “Britax Couture” covers–but we wanted a Marathon and my husband can’t touch all of the other velvety ones.I highly recommend it. And, though I wish I didn’t know this, vomit and other various bodily fluids come out of it really easily. You’d never know Q has been sick in it at all.
    p.s. we bought it a few years ago, so I’m not completely sure what’s available now. They do have a denim version, which I bet is similar.
    Good luck!

  2. My kid comes out of the carseat sweaty too, so I will be watching to see what other people say… I do toss a beach towel over the carseat when we vacate it so that the little metal parts aren’t going to give the kid blisters when we get back in it.

  3. I usually just throw a towel on the seat but I have a question as well (not to distract from the main question) how does one go about getting the vomit smell out of a car seat? It’s been a couple of months since the car sick episode and despite many cleanings, still, it reeks.

  4. This might not help the OP, but I’ll put it out there. My minivan has terrible ventilation in the back, so my kids are always sweating in it in the summer. I bought my daughter a Graco Air-Booster (model 8G00CAF) full booster seat at BRU for less than the $99 list price on Graco’s site. (Last year’s model/color, maybe?) It has a mesh seat, kind of like fancy office chairs for the terminally hot. It keeps her cool in the summer, yet she never complains about being cold in winter either. (We’re in Michigan.) Although we haven’t had this problem yet (give it time), I suspect it would be easy to clean up since fluids will go right through it – if I kept some sort of barrier underneath it to protect the seat cushion.Good luck!

  5. We lived in Houston until my son was almost 2, so i know the hot carseat issue. We had (actually still have) a Britax Roundabout with a blue denim cover that didn’t get nearly as hot as the velvety-polyester ones on most seats. I also used a car seat bag (I have no idea what brand – I thinnk i got it on Babycenter) that was meant to be turned inside out to use as a cover (for when the car is parked, not for usae with the baby in it, of course). It was a silver light-reflecting material (very sapce-agey) and helped alot in sunny parking lots.

  6. Can I just say that I am loving even the THOUGHT of it being “too hot” outside? It’s been a looooong winter here in Maine.

  7. I’m in FL, so it’s pretty much always hot, and I have the sweatiest kids ever. That being said, getting my daughter out of the infant bucket seat and into a Britax Marathon solved the problem (for the most part.) It’s even the velvety type material. It seems that the bucket seats surround them so much more, and there is just no airflow. That was my experience, anyway. Good luck!

  8. a friend of mine makes carseat covers in 100% cotton…easy to put on and take off. this is her description:”Kids car seat covers that I designed & are waterproof & reversable. They have velcro tabs to put them on & off without taking off the straps. Ideal for potty training. Designer prints 100% cotton.
    Have a look at my eBay store to see the prints.”
    her ebay store address is:

  9. I will add to the love for the Britax! We have a Diplomat and it’s black, and we live in Alabama! But my little guy seems to stay cool. Our second carseat is an Evenflo and he stays cool in that one, too.

  10. @Nella, re: carsick vomit smell–I like the unscented Smell B Gone. It sounds goofy, but it works awfully well for us, even with the wet-dog-sat-on-the-sofa smell. And for kid-accidents and vomit and all. It was recommended by a friend with a daughter who battled incontinence for a year or two, and she swore by it for use and safety–it’s child and pet safe, purportedly. In case that helps.

  11. No suggestions for car seat covers, but if you’re trying to get urp out, we are very fond of Kids n Pets — you can buy it at Target or on amazon; you don’t need to rinse it, it’s non-toxic and amazingly effective. It was essential to our survival of our recent three-week-long bout of the flu.

  12. I haven’t read what other people wrote, but I live in sunny Arizona and I made a cover to put on my daughter’s car seat in the summer.I took a pillow case and bought 3 or 4 freezer packs. I simply stiched (by hand) the freezer packs inside the pillowcase. When not in use, just keep it in the freezer and then when you are out and about you can lay it over (i tuck it in the car seat) and then the car seat is nice and cool when you come back.
    I don’t have any suggestions for when you are toting them around in the car seat though, sorry. My older daughter likes to put the pillowcase over her legs when we get back in the car, it’s just slight cool at that point so maybe you could do something like that.

  13. Yes, the Britax Couture covers are much more breathable. I think the Denim one is as well.Sunshine Kids also makes the Radian in a fabric called Super Cool which is a mesh and designed to be cool.
    Keep in mind that it isn’t safe to use after market covers on a carseat. They haven’t been tested with your seat so they might not fit correctly or they may compress too much in crash. They are also not flame retardant which is a legal requirement for all seats sold in the US and Canada.
    Getting the static window clings to block the sun helps as well, and pointing the front vents up toward the ceiling sometimes helps because the cool air can bounce off the ceiling and down toward the kid.

  14. My favorite car seat cover is on the Fisher Price Voyager, which is actually a Britax seat with a “cheaper” cover on it. It’s nylon, so even though it’s black it is cooler than the fuzzy polyester ones. The only problem is the seat has been discontinued so you may not be able to find it.

  15. Another vote here for Britax — the denim cover is nice, soft cotton (I wish my car’s upholstery could be cotton too!).

  16. We talk about inventing a carseat cover all the time, since its darn hot her in Las Vegas for about 9 months of the year. One Step Ahead just beat me to it. I’ve ordered a carseat cover from them that looks just like a sunshade for the window, except that it has elastic around the edges and is designed to go over the carseat and reflect the heat away. It isn’t here yet but I have high hopes.

  17. For those of you whose car seats heat up when the car is parked- the One Step Ahead cover Rebecca mentions gets rave reviews from my friends in Phoenix.For the vomit smell- I use a product called Biokleen that I got at the grocery store. It is marketed for “pet odors”, but it works great on “baby odors”, too. We have used it on carpet, upholstery, and yes, car seats. Its worked great on all of them. It is enzyme based, and has never marked any fabric we’ve used it on.

  18. To get rid of the vomit smell (or any other stinkiness, really), wash as per normal (in the washer, I assume) then hang to dry in sunlight.Seriously, sunlight is amazing. It keeps my daughter’s cloth diapers white and decent-smelling. No bleach or fancy soap required!

  19. I’ll echo my love of the Britax Marathon. Our’s is gray and black and even here in sunny California it’s nice almost all year around. If it’s really, really hot I’ll wipe it down with a wet wipe and that cools it off pretty fast.For the vomit-we use this product called Kids and Pets Instant All-Purpose Stain and Odor Remover. You can probably find it on Amazon or at your local grocery store. Sunlight might be the better first option, though. It sounds so nice!

  20. We bought Sunshine Kids Radian carseats, as they’re narrower than most and we needed to be able to fit three across(2 Radians and a Britax Roundabout) in a station wagon for carpooling.The Radian is available with a cover called Super Cool. It’s a very meshy breathable fabric. You do sacrifice softness, though. But my normally sweaty kid does well in it. And although expensive, it’s a great seat that they can use up to 80 pounds.

  21. As Brooke said, you should NEVER never never use a car seat cover that did not come w/ you seat! Homemade covers are not flame-retardant, which alone is a law suit waiting to happen.I like that ice pack idea! We did nothing last summer to cover the car seat and had no problems in PA w/ a v sweaty child. We were using a Costco convertible. This year, it is an EvenFlo convertible. Both are nylon covers, not fuzzy.

  22. @Caroline- we have the Radian car seat as one of our car seats, too. We bought it because it folds for travel and its slim footprint pretty much guarantees it will work on an airplane. We’ve been happy so far, too.@Heather- You’re right about the sunshine helping, but the problem is that the vomit gets in the little cracks and crevices on the car seat. We washed the cover, but the seat itself still smelled. The enzyme based cleaners actually help dissolve the crud. So our method for cleaning up was- remove and wash all fabric. Remove as much crud as we could. Squirt liberally with Biokleen and drain that out. Leave in sun.
    It worked, but it was not a fun way to spend the afternoon.

  23. I have a britax diplomate, I got a lighter color so it would be less hot, and I have it in the center of the car and have sun screens on each window (I live in Georgia!), if she was on the side (she will have to be once #2 arrives) it would be worse I think but I hope the sun visor helps when that time comes. I’ve not had a problem with sweat and I don’t know if its the britax or something else. But I do think you could take a thin burp cloth and safety pin it to the top so it comes down behind their head and neck. Then it’s super easy to wash the sweat out too. I hate when stuff is made from poleyester, do you know some boppy covers are? UGH!

  24. We have a Britax Boulevard and a Diplomat and both are in darker color fabrics (they were the cheapest). My daughter had just turned one at the start of last summer and we live in central texas and it actually wasn’t that bad – she was almost never hot and sweaty. If the car had been sitting for a while I’d start it and let the a/c run for a few minutes just to get the whole car cooled off before I put her in the car seat. I did buy the car seat sun shade cover from one step ahead for this year though. It was cheap and I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I think the ice pack idea is a good one too.

  25. No time to do the search myself, and sorry if it’s already been mentioned, but go to http://www.ETSY.com and search for a cotton car seat cover. There will undoubtedly be someone that will make one in a fabric of your choice to match your car seat. Good luck!

  26. Don’t use a cover that didn’t come with your carseat! Not allowed!!Point the A/C in your vehicles at the ceiling, so it “bounces” off the ceiling and into the backseat. Play with the angles, but you should be able to find a way to reach rear-facing kids. Older rear-facing kids can have one of those little fans with the foam blades (they’ll be easier to find once the weather gets warmer).

  27. @auburn- That is what I use out here in the Vegas summers and it keeps the car seat nice and cool. I also throw a light towel over it to keep it from melting from direct sunlight and keep a cooler in the backseat to put it in while DS is in it. It gets up to 120+ out here and I have no idea what the temp is in the car in summer but this worked like a charm last year. And the seat retains some of the coolness when you put the child in it so they get to cool off a bit too.

  28. We are in Phoenix so I know a thing or two about hot car seats.Here is my best advice:
    1. Invest in the darkest window tint that is legal. This made a huge difference for us in the overall heat in the car.
    2. I used to use ice packs (like the ones you use for a lunchbox) until I heard about the “cold seats” that are made by a mom here in Phoenix. http://www.coldseat.com We have two and they works great – keep my kids seats cool even after a long day at the zoo.
    3. Keep your kids well-hydrated. During the summer here my kids can drink a TON. I never leave home without a big reusable water bottle. I also worry less when they are sweaty if I know they are drinking enough.
    4. Park in a shaded area whenever possible or take the seat out for long days. When my son went to daycare we would just leave his seat inside the office. That way it was in A/C all day rather than baking in my unshaded parking spot.
    My kids still get sweaty…it’s just part of the deal when you live in the Hottest Freaking Place on Earth. But I just try to get the car started before they have to get in it and we all just grin (okay, maybe not grin) and bear it.

  29. I live in FL and talk about gross hot. I have to start the car in my minivan and cool it down a little before I even try and get the two in there. It’s not much, but it helps. They always have drinks too. Plenty of water.

  30. Slightly off the car seat conversation. I was approached by a company called Baby Huggables. They make escape proof cloth clips to keep children in their car seat. This is especially useful for children who are autistic, or have sensory issues. I suggest you check them out at babyhuggables.com.

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