When preparing for a new baby, we often find ourselves looking for items that will last our little one through more than just the first few months. And in many cases, that’s a good economy. But when it comes to safety, there is no denying that a newborn baby’s tiny size means they have specific, albeit temporary, needs that we have to prepare for. In this article, we jump into the topic of infant car seat inserts for newborns: what they are, why you need one, and how to choose the right one for your baby.
What Is An Infant Car Seat Insert?
A car seat insert is an additional piece of support used inside the infant car seats for newborns. Parents and caregivers usually insert them inside the car seat, around the newborn, to protect the baby’s head and the baby in general. Usually, the newborn car seat insert provides padding for the baby to be strapped inside the car seat properly. This helps keep your newborn baby in the proper posture as well as ensuring their safety.
What Is The Importance Of A Car Seat Insert?
Supporting the newborn baby’s head should be the utmost priority since their bones are not yet fully developed and their muscles are still weak. To prop up their posture, babies need stable seating, especially when traveling. This is where baby car seat inserts come in.
Infant car seats themselves provide safety features based on the minimum weight the manufacturer recommends, commonly ranging from 4-6 pounds. But if your newborn baby is smaller, they won’t fit securely in the seat. This means that if there were an accident, your baby’s head and spine would not be supported properly and could result in brain damage and side-impact injuries. Newborn car seat inserts are placed to make the baby fit properly inside the car seat so that they are snugly protected.
When Should I Stop Using An Infant Car Seat Insert?
This is a common question for first-time parents when it comes to car seat safety guidelines. Car seats indicate in their manuals the requirement for weight and height limits for using the seat and the newborn insert. Check these notes against your baby’s age, weight and height, to ensure you are using the right set-up to keep your baby safe. Avoid taking the car seat insert out too soon as it may result in reduced protection for the baby.
Recently born babies have no control of their movement. They cry when they need something but most times, they cannot convey what they are feeling. Their airway is also smaller and their lungs are not yet fully developed, so they need correct positioning to help keep their ventilation flowing smoothly.
For the first 4-6 weeks, the infant may try to prop their head up when placed on their stomach. Tummy time may help strengthen their neck muscles and they may still have minimal control over their movement. Ensuring their car seat offers full protection and correct positioning can help reduce congestion and respiratory ailments by maintaining the correct alignment of their head.
Three-month-old babies are now using their limbs for support and might be lifting their chest along with their head more often. While their necks are stronger than the first two months, the infant’s spine is still developing and still needs postural support, particularly when riding the car. Their heads are larger at this point so the head support may need to be adjusted or removed. Side impact protection is still needed as their bodies are fragile and limber.
This is a huge milestone for parents and caregivers since babies at this stage are now more mobile although not yet fully independent. They now have control of their movements and often have routine naps, so be able to time your journeys with their naps or prepare for them to eat or play in the car. Most often, the child is still too small for a forward-facing infant car seat but might be getting too big for a car insert. Always check with the car seat manufacturer with regards to the weight, build, and height of your baby before removing the insert.
Tips For Using The Car Seat Insert
An infant car seat insert can only be maximized if the car seat itself is used properly. An infant car seat is uniquely designed for infants and newborns. They are fastened and unfastened out of a base in your car, and most of the time can also be anchored to compatible strollers or travel system. So how do you ensure that your infant is secured in the car seat?
Rear-facing car seat
Having the best infant car seat in the world is pointless if it is not installed properly. Safety experts are united that rear-facing is safest for babies, and we should keep children in a rear-facing position for as long as possible. They can be used for newborns and children up to around 5 years old. Convertible car seat versions are installed in a rear-facing mode and later adjust to a front-facing mode. Some convertible car seats transform into booster seats, which are ideal for children between 5 and 12 years old.
Ensure the right car seat position
The car seat should be inclined in the proper position to avoid the baby from bobbing forward. The baby’s head along with their fragile body cannot hold up using their tender muscles yet. The perfect recline of the infant car seats guarantees child passenger safety and minimizes infant slouching. Never improvise by tilting the seat using wedges under the front of the infant car seat, unless the manufacturer specifically recommends it. Making adjustments like that change the dynamics of the car seat in the event of a crash, and could make it unsafe for your baby.
The harness straps should be fitted correctly: with the shoulder straps set above baby’s shoulders, meeting cleanly at the buckle, with every strap appropriately tight. You should be able to fit one finger between your baby and the harness straps.
Not a good DIY project
Makeshift head supports like rolled-up blankets or baby pillows are not safe for newborn babies inside the infant car seats. They do not provide standardized support to your baby’s posture, and can lead to their head slumping and blocking the airways. They can also cause suffocation when not supervised by a parent or caregiver.
Features To Look For In An Infant Car Seat Insert
Compatibility with your infant car seat is the most important feature. If your infant car seat insert is not specifically compatible with your infant car seat, then there is a risk that you are compromising your baby’s safety by using it against the manufacturer’s instructions. For many popular car seat brands, an infant car seat insert either comes with the car seat or can be purchased as an additional accessory, which puts your mind at rest that the insert has been safety-tested.
Easy to install
As with car seats, the ease of installation of your infant insert is going to have a big impact on your day-to-day life with a new baby. Inserts that fit into the existing car seat without additional fiddly straps and buckles will be more practical than ones that add extra effort to every car trip.
The right material
The newborn insert will be right next to little one’s face and skin, so you want the material to be comfortable, non-irritant and non-toxic. Given that babies can be messy at times, material that is easy to clean is an added plus. We recommend looking for a machine washable option so it’s easy to keep fresh.
Best Newborn Inserts For Infant Car Seats
Some infant car seats come with newborn inserts, meaning you don’t need to worry about buying a separate item. But if yours doesn’t, here’s a run-down of our favorites on the market this year.
Travel Bug Baby and Toddler 3-Piece Head Support
Designed to give your little one a happy ride, the Travel Bug head support boasts not only padding for head support but also covers for the car seat straps to safely cradle infants inside the car, the stroller, the bouncers, and even joggers. It even comes in four different colors to match your taste and your children’s personality!
Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support
The Boppy Noggin Nest head support is a car seat insert as well as a bouncer, swing, and stroller support. It goes practically into anything you can fit your child into that needs additional padding. The clever patented head design is created to ensure the baby’s head is stable and secure. Recommended for 0-4-month-old infants, this budget-friendly head support is also machine wash friendly and works with a harness system that’s guaranteed easy to install.
Diono Cuddle Soft, 2-in-1 head support
Diono may be a bit more pricey compared to other car seat inserts in this list, but this one can support the infant up to 15 pounds. It is made of velvet-touch material that is soft and cozy for baby’s delicate skin. The removable easy to install car seat insert can also be adjusted to provide extended security on the infant’s neck and spine. Parents can also enjoy the convenience that the Cuddle Soft is machine washable too.
DorDor&GorGor CuddleME Infant Head Support
CuddleMe infant head support for strollers and infant car seat is made of breathable fabric for infants’ comfort. It is made of organic fiber without using any chemical, additive, or dye. The hypoallergenic cotton makes eco-friendly parents and caregivers satisfaction and ease of mind that they are not only protecting their infants but the environment as well. One of its safety features is the removable headpiece that converts in line with your baby’s growth, which makes this the only head support and car seat insert you’ll ever need.
CoolBebe 3-in-1 Baby Head Neck and Body Support
For parents who want extra head support, this is the option for you. A combination of two layers of cushion that can be removed and reconnected again with ease, the CoolBebe 3-in-1 features 3 pieces of car seat insert, depending on the child’s age, and even with the season. The inner padding is thin and made of mesh for warm weather, while the outer section is thick and provides side impact protection as well. This product is perfect for a range of car seats, strollers, and carriers.
When choosing the right car seat insert, you can rest assured that your newborn child is safe. All the same, it is crucial to check with the infant car seat manufacturer to avoid picking an insert that is not recommended for usage with your car seat. Top tip: try the car seat insert and test it in your car promptly before pulling out the tags or disposing of the box.
Always remember that during the newborn’s first month, their head and body are still soft and vulnerable. By providing proper support, children may develop strong muscles and enjoy their rides altogether!
Table of Contents
- What Is An Infant Car Seat Insert?
- What Is The Importance Of A Car Seat Insert?
- When Should I Stop Using An Infant Car Seat Insert?
- Tips For Using The Car Seat Insert
- Features To Look For In An Infant Car Seat Insert
- Best Newborn Inserts For Infant Car Seats
- Bottom Line