When you’re raising a child, you’ll find thousands of different pieces of baby gear. Many you can take or leave based on your preferences or lifestyle. (The bouncer, the swing—you don’t need it all!) However, car seats are unavoidable! We’ll all be in vehicles and keeping our children safe from the minute they enter the world to the moment they walk out of our home is SO important. 

Despite the fact that you know how essential car seats are, our children don’t always share our enthusiasm. In fact, some kids hate their car seats! This can be really frustrating and stressful because there’s no other option. They HAVE to be buckled up. Sometimes, kids just hate the car seat because they’re uncomfortable, and if you can make the ride a little cozier, it goes smoother for everyone. 

So, today, we’re sharing some good ideas to make car seats more enjoyable. All our suggestions consider not only comfort but safety on every car ride, too! Here are safe ways to make your kids more comfortable in their seats:

10 Ways to Make Car Seat More Comfortable

1. Adjust the recline. 

The recline could be uncomfortable for their child if they’re too reclined or too upright. Check the manual and determine the safe range of recline for your child’s age, height, and weight. Then, adjust accordingly and see if that helps. 

2. Remove or add the included extra padding. 

Some car seats come with additional car seat cushions for more head support or lumbar support. Check the manual to determine when it’s appropriate and safe to use them. If it’s still safe to use the extra padding or inserts and you have already removed them, try putting them back in. If the manual shows you can or should remove the padding, try that! Here’s a blog post on removing the newborn insert on car seats.

3. Check the harness straps and headrest. 

Next, check the fit of the harness straps. If your child is rear-facing, the straps should be just below your child’s shoulders. (Check the manual for the requirements for adjusting the crotch buckle.) If the child is front-facing, the straps should be at or just above the shoulders. Adjusting these straps if they’re incorrectly placed could help a ton with your child’s comfort! 

4. Consider a different outfit. 

Your child’s clothes could be part of the problem. If your child is wearing cool clothes like shorts, skirts, dresses, and tank tops, the straps may be rubbing against their skin. This could be very uncomfortable! Consider choosing different clothing options for the car seat that still keep your child cool in the summer but are covered where needed. 

Your child’s clothes could also bother them because they’re not comfy when pressed against their skin in the car seat. Whether the fabric is itchy or there’s a back zipper or side buttons . . . there could be a lot of things pinching, poking, and irritating your little one. Investigate the clothing to see if that could be the problem! 

5. Use car seat-safe toys. 

Kids love to roam and move, so sometimes the comfort is more about boredom or separation anxiety. Car seat safe toys can keep them entertained, distracted, and comforted. Whether you give them their favorite blanket and stuffed animal or provide them with an engaging car activity, toys make every car ride easier! 

Know that anything in a car can become a projectile risk in a crash, so all car seat toys should be soft-sided.

You can find our full list of our favorite car seat safe toys here

6. Maintain a comfortable temperature. 

Car seats can get HOT. All that padding, foam, and polyester can keep a lot of heat. Additionally, if your vehicle doesn’t have great back seat venting, it can get cold in the winter! Your child may be uncomfortable just because the temperature isn’t right for them. Adjust your vehicle’s heat and AC and try a Noggle to get that nice warm or cool air to your backseat riders. 

7. Try swaddling or using a blanket. 

Did you know you can swaddle your newborn in their car seat? You can! Swaddling an infant in their car seat can help them feel cozy, safe, and close to you. So, this may be the perfect solution for families with babies!

If your child is older, they still may like the comfort of being wrapped in a warm blanket. Try a car seat blanket to help them feel just as cozy! (Maybe they’ll even sleep in the car seat? We can dream!) 

8. Be cautious of giving snacks. 

Snacks seem like the perfect way to distract your child from the fact that they’re in the car seat. However, remember that any food in the car is a choking hazard. If you need to give them snacks, ensure the car seat snacks aren’t significant choking risks.

9. Don’t use any aftermarket products. 

Listen, in most cases, ONLY car seat products that came in the box with your car seat are safe. Unless the car seat manufacturer themselves has add-on products for your car seats that they sell, you shouldn’t be buying anything to add to their car seat. No extra support pillow, no seat covers, and no head slings! No matter how desperate you get to make your cold comfortable, never compromise car seat safety by purchasing aftermarket products. 

10. Don’t switch to front-facing too early. 

If you’re convinced your child just doesn’t like facing away from you, don’t use that as a reason to turn front-facing too early. Kids are tremendously safer rear-facing and the advice of the experts is to stay rear-facing as long as possible—until they reach the max height or weight limits noted in the manual! So, keep them rear-facing even if they don’t like it—it could save their life. 

There are lots of ways to make car seats more comfortable for your child! 

When your child is uncomfortable in the car seat, it can make car rides stressful for the whole family. However, there are lots of things to do to make your child more comfortable. Use these tips, and if you’re still struggling, book a consultation with one of our CPSTs to come up with another solution. We’ll get through this, mama! 

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