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How To Make Car Seat More Comfortable For Your Kid

I don’t know about you and your progeny, but my kid had some serious problems with her car seat.

At first, we thought she just liked being held so much that her crying was a protest of being put down, but after seeing her get on just fine with her bounce and swing seats, we knew something else was up.

As it happens, she made a fuss when she was in her car seat because it simply wasn’t all that comfortable.

My partner and I had a bunch of ideas on how to boost the coziness factor for our daughter, but altering an infant car seat requires caution, as it can be incredibly dangerous.

In light of this, we consulted our health visitor on the matter and reached out to a number of manufacturers and experts to get their opinion on what was and wasn’t possible when adjusting car seats.

And from our research came the methods detailed below. Read on to keep your child safe and happy when you hit the road!

Method 1 — Adding A Car Seat Cover

Your car seat may already have a cover of some description, but the chances are it’s not too skin-kind.

This is often because the fabrics are treated with fire retardants that stiffen up the fibers and give the material a scratchy feel.

Luckily, there’s an easy remedy for this problem, as you can simply purchase another cover to drape over the existing one, just like a pram bassinet.

Pick something soft. It won’t impact the safety of the seat at all, but it will make it a darn sight comfier.

During our own testing of this method, we found that it made the car seat far more appealing to our little one, but it also made her sneeze like crazy, so we scrapped our first cover and purchased another that was both soft and hypoallergenic.

Up to this point, either my partner or I had to sit in the back with our daughter to soothe her as we traveled, but after adding this cover, her discomfort was significantly reduced.

Method 2 — Adjust The Straps

You hear older people reminisce about how fast they (children) grow up, and if you’re anything like me, you always thought this was more of a wistful poetry than anything else.

But when you have a kid of your own, you realize Grandma wasn’t playing around… Kids grow at an alarming rate!

In fact, they sprout so ridiculously fast that they often outgrow the shoulder strap height and tightness in their car seat without us knowing, leading to a lot of discomfort and tears, just like trying to put your car seat in the shopping cart at the store!

Sometimes we do realize they’ve grown, but as we’re instructed to keep the straps as tight as possible, we’re hesitant to adjust them.

My advice here is to loosen them up, set them on the next height level, and see how it turns out. If your child seems much more relaxed, the straps were certainly the issue.

Do check that the straps are still securing your child in place before heading out for a spin, but otherwise, mission accomplished.

We felt like such terrible parents when we realized this easily remedied factor was contributing to our daughter’s distress, but mother and fatherhood is a learning process, and we’re all bound to make mistakes along the way.

This, combined with the new cover, had our daughter snoozing happily in the car with almost every drive.

Method 3 — Adjust The Headrest

If your car seat is a larger model designed to keep your child safe until their early teens, it will no doubt have an adjustable headrest. Play around with it to see if you can find a position your child prefers.

We tested this out, and although it didn’t seem to be an issue in our case, it’s something we’re going to keep in the back of our minds, as when our daughter’s a little taller, the current headrest position will definitely become uncomfortable.

Method 4 — Offer Your Child A Blanket

photo of a child in a carseat on a gray background

The straps on car seats can sometimes drag up pant bottoms, leaving a kid’s shins and calves exposed.

This can feel unpleasant for our children, especially on a cold day, so offering them a blanket to snuggle under is a solid option for keeping the chills at bay.

Living in a relatively cold climate, this is something my partner and I were doing anyway, but we didn’t realize that even when it’s slightly warmer, the blanket can provide a lot of comfort, so we extended our blanket use into the tail end of spring and early summer.

Method 5 — Comfy Clothing

Following on from my last method, sometimes it’s not just the seat and straps causing discomfort, but the way the straps interact with childrens’ clothing.

The example I used above was pants riding up, but cardigans, tops, and coats can also ride up, gathering into lumps between your kid’s back and the car seat.

In light of this, if you know you’re going for a drive, it’s definitely worth dressing your child in their comfiest outfit.

During our tests, we found dungaree onesies made of soft jersey-style material are the best bet. They can’t ride up at the back or at the leg because they’re secured around your child’s feet.

Method 6 — A Neck Pillow

Adding supplementary padding to a child’s car seat is strictly out of the question, as the extra thickness can inhibit the safety features of the chair, but that’s not to say you can’t add some modest padding in the way of a discrete neck pillow.

We gave this Infanzia chin support and neck pillow a go, and our daughter seemed to really like it, but we decided that it’s not particularly suitable for brand new babies, so it’s best to keep this until they’re a bit older.

Method 7 — Purchase A New Car Seat

If you can’t seem to make your car seat any more comfortable for your child, it might be time to consider a replacement.

If money’s tight, don’t feel bad about selling your current seat to raise funds for the new purchase — It might suit another child perfectly!

When you’re ready to get your new car seat, rather than ordering something online straight away, I found it’s best to head to a brick-and-mortar store first so you can see and touch the seats before you buy them.

Once you know what the seats are actually like, you can still order online and take advantage of any deals you’ve seen advertised.

Frequently Asked Questions

My Child Still Finds Their Car Seat Uncomfortable. What Should I Do?

It’s possible that even after trying all these methods, your child still doesn’t enjoy going in their car seat.

At this stage in their life, they’re constantly learning things and enjoying new physical freedoms, freedoms they want to exercise wherever they can, so it stands to reason that being strapped in place might be something of a bugbear.

In these situations, all you can do is try to make journeys more enjoyable for them. I’d start by adding sun blockers to your windows if you haven’t already.

We all know how painful it can be when the sun is in our eyes, but it’s many times worse for our babies’ sensitive peepers.

I recommend these Envoe shades, as they arrive in a pack of four, giving you plenty of coverage, and they’re lightweight, they’re affordable, and the double-layer design does a great job of blocking UV.

Introducing something like this car seat toy is a good move too.

We found that a lot of the time, our child just needs a distraction from her discomfort, and the soft, colorful danglies on this Taff Toys car seat are super enticing and fun.

Or, if your child is old enough, this tablet harness for your headrest will certainly take the sting out of a journey.

We’re holding off on screen time stress for the moment, but we did buy this for future use, took it for a single test drive, and we didn’t hear a peep out of our little one.

Something to bear in mind, though, is that we would never use this if you’re hoping your baby will nap during the car ride, as it’s far too stimulating.

How Long Will My Child Have To Use Their Car Seat?

It’s awful to hear our children upset, so if your kid is at odds with their car seat, you’re no doubt praying for the day that they no longer need it… but when is that exactly?

Well, it’s widely accepted that it’s crucial that they stay in their car seat until the age of 8.

But before you start panicking, you should know that as your child gets older and gets better at communicating, you can work together to make their situation more comfortable when you hit the road.

Final Thoughts

It’s never easy to see our children in discomfort, and car seats are often the cause, but, as you now know, there are a number of ways you can go about making a car seat more comfortable for your child,  having a clean car seat is one of them, if you need cleaning tips read how to clean car seat straps or how to clean a stroller the right way here.

It’s just an important for the parent to be comfortable as well, we also put together a list of the best strollers for tall parents. Which one will you choose?

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