Car seats are one of the most important pieces of baby gear out there because they keep our kids safe in an emergency. And, honestly, car accidents are often emergencies! Over 35,000 car accidents happen every day in the U.S.! That’s one of the reasons we’re so passionate about vehicle and car seat safety here at Safe in the Seat

So, when we consider how integral car seats are to our child’s safety, we often wonder: What are these things made of? After all, if the seat is not only going to withstand crash force but also the wear and tear of everyday use, it’s got to be made out of some pretty tough materials! To answer this question, we’re going to be investigating the inner workings of a car seat to identify what it’s made of. 

Here are the materials that make up your child’s car seat:

What Are Car Seats Made Of?

Metal or Plastic Framework

The first component of a car seat is the framework. This shell acts as a shield between your child and the impact of another vehicle, an object, or whiplash. It’s usually made out of extremely durable plastic, but some car seats also have additional metal supports for added safety. 

You can find steel-framed or steel-reinforced car seats all over! Some of our favorites are the Britax Poplar (read our full review.) and the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1. You may also find metal used in advanced car seat safety features like load legs and anti-rebound bars. However, it is important to note that we don’t know of any safety difference in seats that have a plastic frame and seats that have frames that include steel.

Foam Padding

Next comes the foam padding. This padding is partially there to provide comfort and a safe riding position for your child. However, it’s also present to absorb some of the impact and shock from a collision. This can reduce the risk of injury in a sudden stop or crash by helping distribute the pressure evenly.

Fabric Upholstery 

The next layer of car seat material is the fabric upholstery! This keeps your child comfortable and conceals the important framework and padding of the car seat. Most car seats are made up of polyester blends—nylon, spandex, or something similar can be integrated in there. You may also find car seats with real leather, faux leather, or microfiber embellishments for added comfort or style! 

All around, these polyester car seat fabric blends are popular because of how inexpensive yet durable they are. Yes, you still have to be careful about what cleaning products you use, but it’s still pretty easy to clean your car seat with polyester fabric. You can’t use any old cleaning products you may use on the rest of your polyester car interior, but you honestly won’t need to! Polyester cleans up just fine with a damp cloth, and that doesn’t threaten the integrity of your car seat at all! 

Another less common car seat material is merino wool. This is definitely a luxury option, but it provides just as many benefits as polyester! It’s not as durable or easy to clean, but it is easier to keep clean and the natural fibers are a huge plus for some families. Both polyester and merino wool will do its job as the outer car seat upholstery, but there are pros and cons of each to discover. 

Here’s what you need to know about polyester vs. merino wool for your car seat:

Pros and Cons of Polyester Car Seats


Pros and Cons of Merino Wool Car Seats

  • Soft and easy on sensitive skin
  • Highly breathable 
  • Moisture-wicking properties 
  • Odor-resistant
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Naturally fire-resistant 

Car Seats With Merino Wool Fabric Options

Car Seat Buying Kits
Car Seat Buying Kits
Car seat purchases can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, most car seats have the same basic components, and all of them pass the same safety rating. Car seats are intuitively designed with materials to help keep your child safe and comfortable! 

So, whether you grab a seat that’s $100 or one that’s $500, you know that it’s sufficient to keep your child safe! However, that still doesn’t narrow down the options. Understanding the different materials and safety features car seats have can help you make the right choice for your family. 

To save you some browsing time (and a lot of headaches), we have the Car Seat Buying Kit, which takes into consideration all aspects of your child’s car seat experience. It’ll evaluate your child’s size and age, your available vehicle space, your budget, your lifestyle, and more to produce a list of recommended car seats. It’s the best way to choose the right car seat for your child

Of course, you can find more information about car seats and vehicle safety on the Safe in the Seat blog and Instagram. We’re committed to sharing facts about motor vehicle best practices to keep everyone in your life safe in their seats!

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