Safety experts draw attention to car seat add-ons potentially posing hazards for kids
Published Monday, March 23, 2015 4:45PM CST Last Updated Monday, March 23, 2015 6:46PM CST
Are after-market add-ons causing your child’s safety to take a back seat?
They’re products meant to keep your baby warm, supported, even entertained while in a car seat.
But safety experts said any products sold separately from the actual car seat can pose a hazard.
"Anything that didn't come with your car seat isn't regulated. It hasn't been crash tested," said Kalynn Warren, a certified child restraint systems technician with the province.
“A really popular one we see a lot of are these ‘bundle me bags’ that keep baby warm in the winter. The reason they're not recommended is because it goes behind the baby and (can) interfere with the straps," Warren added.
But this is news to Jessica Threadkell. She has been using products such as seatbelt strap protectors and a head rest with her daughter Lucille.
“She’s so little. If we are ever, heaven forbid, in an accident, I want to make sure she’s protected.”
But according to Transport Canada, there is no guarantee a child will be protected in a car seat if after-market add-ons are used in them.
“If you add accessories to the child restraint, then the performance may be different, said Suzanne Tylko, chief of crashworthiness research at Transport Canada.
Tylko said while child car seats go through rigorous testing in Canada, many third-party products do not.
For example, a mirror placed on a headrest facing a child could impact them if in a crash.
Still, Tylko said Transport Canada hasn't gone as far as banning products like these from store shelves.
It's not a safety device,” said Tylko. “If it was being sold (as a) safety device in order to protect the child during a crash, then it would certainly have to meet Transport Canada regulations."
But Threadkell said she’s done with her products and said retailers should be finished with them too.
"I think when it comes to your child, you can't take too many precautions and if something is deemed unsafe it shouldn't be sold in stores."
Transport Canada adds it does not say after-market products are unsafe, only that it does not know how they could affect the safety features of a child’s car seat in a crash.
The agency recommends contacting the car seat manufacturer to see if a certain product is safe for use with a car seat. Most manufacturers list what items can and cannot be used with a seat in its manual.
In some cases, using after-market products sold separately can also potentially affect the car seat’s warranty.