By SafBaby Co-Founder Samantha Fox Olson

There have been a few times where my baby has fallen asleep in the car and instead of taking her out of the seat and bringing her into the house, I opted to let her stay peacefully sleeping, bringing her inside still in the car seat. Seemed like a win-win situation: she gets an uninterrupted nap and I get one of those rare moments of my own time.

Well, this is not something that I will continue to do. Not now that I know what I know about the chemicals that are out-gassed from all car seats. Of course she will continue to use car seats until she is old enough to safely and legally ride without one, but to not keep her in them longer than necessary is a safer alternative.

Graco SnugRide Emerson Infant Car SeatBecause heat and UV rays break down these chemicals further and actually increase the dangers of these toxic compounds, a couple of other great things to do to reduce further exposure and off-gassing are:

Keep your car parked in the shade and keep car seat out of the sun completely

Keep windows cracked to keep car “aired out”

These tips will help to prevent the further breaking down of toxic chemicals that are not completely bound to the plastics and foam that make up not only your baby’s car seat, but also (very likely), the dashboard, the steering wheel and other parts of your car’s interior.

If your thoughts are anything like mine, you are thinking, “What the heck, car seats and car interiors are toxic! Unbelievable.” (Now you know a little bit more about what that “new car smell” is).

“A new study suggests that ‘toxic’ chemicals used in the materials to make car seats can put children in danger of developing health problems if ingested or inhaled as these chemicals outgas over the life of the product (especially in the hot sun). ‘These chemicals can be associated with developmental disorders, learning impairment, liver disease, cancer, as well as other allergic type diseases.” –Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center

What are these chemicals and why are they put into car seats?!

There are many different chemicals used. The main groups categorized by scientists and researchers at the Ecology Center are: bromine (from fire retardants), chlorine (PVC), and “other chemicals.” They are used to create rigidity and durability to plastics and foam and used as fire retardants.

The good news is that these chemicals are NOT required by law to be put into car seats and in indoor auto parts. Also, some car seats are way less toxic than others and you now have access to the information researched on this topic! So do these 2 things to ensure that you not only make the safest choice in purchasing your baby’s car seat or booster chair, but also to help keep these chemicals out of car seats that have yet to be manufactured:

Britax Parkway Booster Car Seat #1: Know the safest option in what is available now.

To view the very best choices for car seats/boosters (when it comes to lowest toxic concern), visit Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.

*A note to the consumer: Just because one model of a specific brand is rated as the least toxic, does NOT mean that every model of this specific brand is rated the same way.

#2: Take action: sign a petition that protects our babies and children from toxic chemicals in car seats. Join the Car Seat Detox Challenge and sign here.

#3: Take action: let others know!

You can also send this article directly to all of your friends, asking them to do the same!

It works!

Signing petitions and spreading the word makes a difference. Companies are making changes and as of 2017, we have the first ever car seat to pass federal safety standards without the use of fire retardant chemicals!

Through the use of a Merino wool blend, UPPAbaby’s Henry and Jordan MESA car seats have achieved this long-awaited feat. While there is still a long way to go to completely clean up the presence of chemicals in car seats, eliminating flame retardants is a very big step.

Other Options

Sandra had a great tip too! “I have the Graco Snug n’Ride and to get rid of the fire retardants, I washed the cover 5 times before and scrubbed the seat and belt with soap water very well too. All the “new” smell went away after that!”

Great idea.