Like the great parent that you are, you've baby-proofed both your home and your car, and given yourself the peace of mind of knowing that your little one is safe at all times. To really go the extra distance in your quest for safety, consider purchasing a baby car seat cover.
There are a lot of these products on the market, so choosing one can be quite difficult. Fortunately for you, we've created this handy buying guide to help you out, which examines the benefits of purchasing a car seat cover, as well as things you should look for when shopping for one.
A seat cover can dramatically improve your baby's comfort and protect him or her from the elements. The last thing you want is for your baby to drift off into a peaceful slumber, only to wake up crying because of the glaring sun or a horde of hungry mosquitoes.
Baby car seat covers fit over your baby's car seat and protect them from the following:
- Strong sunlight
- Cold temperatures
- Rain and wet weather
- Prying eyes
Some seat covers fit snugly over the seat like a shower cap, while others are draped over like a loose canopy. Although they tend to be geared towards protecting against specific kinds of weather, many are versatile and can be used year-round.
Here are the different types of seat covers as well as guidelines for finding the right one.
A summer seat cover almost becomes a necessity during the summer or in sunny regions. You may have sunglasses to deal with the sun's glare while in the car or when out for a walk, but your baby doesn't.
Good summer covers are made of lightweight, breathable materials like cotton or polyester, which block out the sun's rays while allowing air to circulate. This is important, because hot air trapped in the car seat can pose health risks to your baby.
The best summer covers feature a two-piece design, consisting of a retractable top layer for blocking the sun, and a mesh layer underneath that allows air to circulate.
Summer car seat covers range in price from $5 for simple cotton covers, to $40 for two-piece polyester models with a retractable top layer.
A wet and cold baby can often become a sick baby, so purchasing a seat cover to keep the rain out is always a smart decision.
The highest-quality rain covers are made of transparent, durable vinyl, with holes or vents for air circulation, while basic models are made of slightly less durable plastic. For the most protection, look for models that have a front flap that can be unzipped, which gives you access to your baby without having to remove the entire cover.
Extra care should be taken during the warmer months, because rain covers don't breathe very well. Remove them as soon as you're out of the rain to keep your baby from getting too hot.
Rain covers range in price from $8 for a basic plastic one-piece to $30 and more for vinyl models with a front flap.
When the temperature drops, even short trips outside can give your baby the chills, presenting the need for a winter seat cover.
Winter covers are made with thick fleece to trap heat underneath, keeping your baby warm. In order to minimize heat loss, many of them have only a small hole near the head area so you can check on your little one. Higher-end models come with zipper or velcro flaps, which grant you easy access to your baby.
Some winter covers are made with water-resistant surfaces, making them ideal for rainy days in the spring, fall and winter. Most are machine-washable.
Winter covers range in price from $20 to $60, with the higher-priced models usually made with thicker insulation and front flaps.
Mosquitoes and other pests can pose a major health risk to your baby, but insect covers do a good job of keeping them out.
Basic insect covers are essentially mosquito nets that fit snugly around your baby seat. They're lightweight and can be easily removed and thrown in your baby bag when not in use.
Alternatively, summer covers, such as the two-piece designs with a mesh layer we looked at earlier, also work wonderfully as insect covers. They have the added benefit of circulating air, which is important during the hot summer months when insects are most active.
Insect covers range in price from $8 for a basic "mosquito net" design, to $40 for a two-piece summer cover that also keeps insects out.
Seat covers aren't absolute necessities, but it's difficult to imagine a situation where they won't come in handy.
For the budget-minded, there are plenty of options out there that fulfill your needs without sacrificing quality. And for those who'd like to spend a little more, a wealth of extra accessories and conveniences are there for the taking.
The key to making a good purchase is matching product features to your specific needs, and finding something that's versatile and can fulfill more than one function. By referring to this guide, you should have no problem making a decision but also be sure to check out our review of specific Baby Car Seat Covers before you make your purchase!