As a parent or caregiver, safety is the most important thing when it comes to buying your child’s car seat — but why not take things a step further, and make sure your car seat will keep your baby safe from toxins in addition to the possible dangers of the road? Fortunately, there are plenty of non-toxic car seats without flame retardants and other toxins.
According to the Ecology Center, more than 50 percent of the car seats on the market in the U.S. contain hazardous chemicals, such as PFAS (aka “forever chemicals”) or flame retardants, both which are associated with a number of potential health risks, especially in babies and children, who are still developing. Fortunately, the Ecology Center has tested many car seats for flame retardants and PFAS over the years, and releases an updated list of car seat rankings annually.
That said, we’re sharing the details on a few car seats that are designed without flame retardants, PFAS, and other harmful chemicals. Each car seat on this list also happens to be vegan and free of animal-based fabrics like leather and wool, both of which have high environmental footprints, but are sometimes used in car seats.
Britax’s B-Safe Gen2 Infant Car Seat
The Ecology Center gave Britax’s B-Safe Gen2 Infant Car Seat its highest rating of “Low Concern,” although the brand’s Allegiance 3-Stage Convertible was flagged for “Moderate Concern.” That said, the B-Safe Gen2 Infant seems like a solid option, as it is made without flame retardants, and features SafeWash High Performance Fabric that can be removed and machine washed and dried.
The car seat also has a steel reinforced base, a foam-based protective shell around the upper half of the body, is easy to install, and can be paired with any Britax single stroller. Britax’s B-Safe Gen2 Infant Car Seat costs $199.99.
Chicco’s KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex
Chicco’s KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex car seat grows with your baby, and can be used for kids weighing between 4 and 35 pounds, and up to 32 inches tall. The Ecology Center gave this car seat its highest rating of “Low Concern,” though the organization rated another car seat by the brand (the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant) as “High Concern.”
That said, the KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex’s fabric is completely free of added harmful chemicals, it is GREENGUARD Gold Certified for low chemical emissions; and it is made with special synthetic fibers that are inherently fire-resistant. The KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex’s outer fabrics can be removed and machine washed, making it easy to keep clean. It is also easy to install, features a click-in design, and it can be converted to a stroller. This car seat comes in three dark, neutral colors, and goes for $300.
Maxi-Cosi’s Romi Convertible, Mico 30 Infant, and Pria Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seats
Three of Maxi-Cosi’s car seats were rated as “Low Concern” by the Ecology Center this year. There’s the Romi Convertible Car Seat ($129.99), which is lightweight and easy to travel with on an airplane. The Mico 30 Infant Car Seat ($219.99) is light yet study, and is compatible with all Maxi-Cosi strollers. And then the Pria Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat ($349.99) “may just be the only car seat you’ll ever need,” as it can be used from infancy to 10 years of age.
Each of these Maxi-Cosi car seats is part of the PureCosi line, which uses fabrics that “no longer require fire-retardant chemicals.” They also all feature fabrics that can be thrown in the washer and dryer, over and over.
Is it safe to buy secondhand car seats?
Car seats come with expiration dates, which are automatically overwritten when the car seat is involved in a collision — at that point, it should be replaced. For that reason, experts strongly recommend against buying a secondhand car seat, unless you are 100 percent sure it has never been in an accident, that the model has never been recalled, and that it is not yet expired, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
So unfortunately, buying a used car seat at the thrift store is a no-no, even though we usually recommend shopping secondhand over buying anything new. Safety should be the No. 1 priority when it comes to shopping for a car seat, and even if you do not have access to a car seat that is certified free of PFAS and FRs, you should of course always use a car seat when driving with a baby or child until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh at least 80 pounds.