Infant and Child Car Seats Come with Toxic Chemicals

toxic infant child car seat

There’s no way around it. When babies and young children are riding in a car, they must be secured in a car seat. Unfortunately, this safety protection comes with toxic chemical exposure.

Though we all want our children to be in properly installed car seats for vital crash protection, we also want those seats to be free from toxicity.

There’s a new study on toxic chemicals in children’s car seats. This is the sixth study of its kind since 2006. Leading environmental scientists at the Ecology Center said that this year’s findings were an improvement from previous years, however there are still toxic chemicals found in the textile fabric of car seats.

This year’s study focuses particularly on flame retardants (FRs), which continue to be used despite there being no data showing they provide a fire safety benefit to children. Rather, they put babies and young children in close contact with chemical additives known to be carcinogens, hormone disruptors and developmental toxicants.

Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure to chemicals, since their systems are still developing. They often spend quite a bit of time sitting or sleeping in car seats, either in the car or when taken out of the car.

Fifteen infant and toddler car seats purchased in 2016 were tested, including two from the United Kingdom, by the following manufacturers: BabyTrend, Britax, Chicco, Clek, Cosco, Diono, Evenflo, Graco, Joie, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Orbit, Recaro, and Safety 1st; and a 2017-model car seat from UPPAbaby. A database with full results and ranking of the 2016 tested seats, as well as previous years, is available at

Aside from the UPPAbaby car seat, fire retardants were found in all of the car seats that were tested.  Of those the Britax and Maxi-Cosi were ranked the healthiest as they did not contain any brominated flame retardants (BFR’s)

Most car seats still contain brominated flame retardants (BRF’s).  This is concerning as brominated chemicals are typically persistent, continue to accumulate and are often toxic. Alternatives to BFR’s have not been tested for toxicity.  Though some manufacturers have stopped using some flame retardants with know hazards, the healthy effects of many of the substitutes are unknown.

Organic car seat covers might help, if they are truly made of non-toxic materials, but they are not a complete answer. Fabric covers will not completely block toxicity. But an organic, non-toxic cover will at least put some healthy padding between the chemicals and your baby.

The good news is that the first-ever flame retardant-free car seat is coming in the Spring of 2017 (March), produced by UPPAbaby.   The “Henry”, a new infant car seat in their “Mesa” line, leaves out chemical fire retardants in favor of a wool blend to meet regulations and flammability standards.

Vital crash protection and free from toxicity!


11 thoughts on “Infant and Child Car Seats Come with Toxic Chemicals”

  1. I find it unacceptable that manufacturers do not take into account the sensibility of our children. The problem is known not only for car seats but also sofas that have caught fire and led to severe skin burns due to inappropriate use of certain chemicals. I hope that the legislator will be firm against these unscrupulous people and companies. The livelihood of our families are at stake at the end of the day.

  2. “Infant and Child Car Seats Come with Toxic Chemicals” post is good. Thanks for providng first ever flame retardant free car seat without having toxic chemicals. Waiting for new infant car seat.

  3. What? I had just known about this. Thank you for this informative article and gladly first-ever flame retardant-free car seat is now available.

  4. Stephanie Helder

    Wondering if you had any info on the Clek Foonf in Wool that is now available for presale? Boasting no added flame retardants and a merino wool design. I am curious if it might be the new safest convertible car seat option and am considering it for our first baby who is due in May! Thanks!

        1. Jane Sheppard

          So sorry for the delay. It looks like it’s the same as the others except it has a wool covering. I’ve sent an email asking what the cushioning is made of. I will let you know if it contains polyurethane foam. If it does it has flame retardants in the foam.

          1. Hi Angela, I’ve contacted Clek and got a response that the foam used is polyurethane but that they have confirmation from the suppliers that the foam is free of fire retardants. They also conduct 3rd party chemical screening on the major components in the car seat. They said they test for specific known flame retardant chemical compounds, as well as general screening for halogens, phosphorous and other chemicals used in flame retardants, like antimony. They said the results show that none are detected in concentrations that would indicate the use of flame retardants. I have not received the actual confirmations or the testing yet – they haven’t made it public yet. And PU foam can have issues other than flame retardants. But even so, I think you’re going to find PU foam in all car seats and this is likely the best you can get at this time. I wish someone would make a car seat with natural latex foam!

  5. Thank you for all the great research you do! I was so sad reading this article knowing how toxic car seats are and wishing there was an alternative. We spend a lot of time in the car on long road trips. Luckily for me I already have the uppababy stroller set with the car seat. So I just went for it and bought a replacement cover made of wool! I know it’s not certified organic wool, but it’s the best thing out there right now. I wish Uppababy was making a line of all their stroller products with wool, maybe some day in the future they will. I wish my toddler’s car seat had some safer alternative, I guess like you said I could try to find some sort of cover for it made of organic cotton, but that’s about as good as it will get. Thank you for drawing attention to Uppababy’s small step in the right direction, helps me feel a little better about putting my newborn baby into his car seat. And I will write to Uppababy suggesting they come out with a whole new line of wool covers for all their strollers.

  6. Jane Sheppard CPC FMCHC

    That’s really great, Lauren! You are doing the best for your child. I’ll also keep checking for more options and post them.

  7. Do you happen to know the best high back booster seat? Trying to find one with no flame retardants and I don’t see much. I do see Clek has one and maxi Cosi. Not sure if all Maxi Cosi seats are treated the same or if it’s just the infant ones?

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