Of all of the green baby gear we’ve tackled on Ecolife, eco-friendly infant car seats are one of the most challenging as there are very few options for those looking for car restraints with eco-friendly features. Plus, more than half of baby car seats contain toxic chemicals.
This article highlights:
What toxins to watch out for in baby car seats
Start with the following list of materials you should avoid when shopping for eco car seats:
- Polyurethane foam: This is used to make baby mattresses, baby slings, and baby car seats, but it’s full of chemicals including formaldehyde, toluene, formaldehyde, benzene, and surfactants, all of which can pose serious health hazards for your baby. Choose natural latex rubber or organic cotton batting for a healthier car seat.
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC): Manufacturing and disposing of PVC creates dioxins which cause neurological, reproductive, developmental, and hormonal health problems. PVC plastic is highly flexible and can be identified by the recycling #3.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): Although starting to be phased out by baby car seat manufacturers, PBDEs are a class of flame retardants used widely for consumer products, including baby carriers. They can dissolve out of consumer products and be absorbed by the human body where they accumulate in our fat and resist degradation. Over time as they build up they can create various health problems like decreased thyroid hormone levels, low birth weights in babies, hyperactivity, and even cancer.
What features make a car seat eco-friendly
Finding a green car seat isn’t just about avoiding certain materials, it’s about looking for eco-friendly characteristics, too, and here are a few:
- Natural fabrics: Look for baby carriers that are made with eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and wool, bamboo, or recycled polyester. Just as with any textile you buy for your baby (clothing, slings, wraps, or linens), choosing natural options will protect their health and the planet. And be sure to stay away from convenience finishes that make fabrics stain-resistant or flame retardants as these can be highly toxic.
- Longevity: Look for something that can grow and adjust as your child develops. That way you’ll only have to purchase one car seat for your child that will last them until they’re ready to sit on their own in the car. After all, durability is sustainability.
- Recyclability: If possible, look for options that are either made from natural materials that will break down in the environment when composted or from recyclable materials. Likely with something as complex as a baby swing there will be a mix of materials (metal, plastic, wood, etc), in which case you should be able to disassemble the chair once it’s outlived its usefulness so that each individual component can be recycled. Of course, if you can find one made with recycled materials, even better.
- Second hand: Always an eco-friendly choice, buying used baby carriers is both economical and sustainable. It means you’re reusing something rather than letting it be sent to a landfill. You are also preventing new resources from being used to make a new item. You can often find high quality items at secondhand marketplaces such as Craigslist or Ebay. Just be sure to check for product recalls and safety warnings for any models you consider before buying.
- Make your own organic seat cover: If you’re into sewing, try to make your own car seat cover with organic cotton, bamboo, wool, or whatever natural, organic fabrics you like.
The best eco-friendly, non-toxic baby car seats
When it comes to brand recommendations, we are going to be standing on the shoulders of the giants over at the nonprofit Ecology Center. Every year, the organization conducts toxicology analyses of different infant car seats and presents their findings in a highly informative yearly report.
These are the best eco-friendly, non-toxic infant car seats:
Maxi-Cosi Mica Pro Eco i-Size
In their 2022 press release, the Ecology Center gave a glowing remark of Maxi-Cos, ranking all three of the brand’s tested car seats as “low concern”, and saying that the company that has risen to the challenge of innovation by introducing premium fabrics and foams in their infant car seats. Plus, the Mica Pro Eco i-Size, in particular, has the added eco-benefit of being made from 100% recycled fabrics.