How to Keep a Car Seat Cool in the Summer

Knowing how to keep a car seat cool in the summer is very important. We all know the dreaded heat a car can feel during those hot, summertime months.

The ideas in this post can make trips in the car more pleasant and safe for all of your kids – as well as for mama!

If you’ve read my other posts about car seat best practices, you know I am passionate about car seat safety.

I believe strongly in extended rear facing, keeping my kids in boosters for as long as possible, and keeping them in the back seat until age 13. Yes, the importance of car seat safety extends beyond age 2!

Therefore, before we go into some practical ways you can cool down your car seat on a hot day, I want to be sure to fully address the dangers of heatstroke due to avoidable situations. 

We all need a reminder from time to time. 

The interior of a car can reach deadly temperatures in as little as an hour, even when the temperature outside the car is just 73 degrees. 

Car seats and cars themselves have come a long way, but humans have limitations to how much heat they can handle, and babies can handle much less than adults.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, “every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle.” Yes, that is some scary data.

We can all play a part in reducing that statistic by remembering ACT:

Always take your child with you. Never leave them alone in the car (even if it’s just for a quick stop at the grocery store or to run in the post office). And always lock your car when you’re not inside so kids can’t get in on their own without your knowledge.

Create reminders. Put something in the front seat when your child is in the car seat to remind you they are back there. Or leave your phone or purse in the backseat so you are more likely to get your child should you forget them. 

Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. 

And don’t forget, deadly temperatures aren’t needed if a child is already dehydrated. 

Having said all of that, I recognize that extreme situations, like heat stroke, aren’t our only battle.

When it comes to summer heat and car seats there are three key things to consider: 

  1. Will the metal and plastic components of the car seat burn your child’s skin?
  2. Will the radiant heat of the car seat be uncomfortable or dangerous for your little one?
  3. If the car seat is rear-facing, is there any cool air getting to them?

I’ll address these questions in the sections below and help you learn several easy tips for how to keep your car seat cool in the summer time. 

A personal note: I have experienced the horror of having a child locked in a hot car. It is terrifying.

I had taken my three-year-old and infant to run errands at the mall and were in my husband’s car, which I was less familiar with.

It had an auto-start option so I used that to help the air conditioning run so the car cool down while loading the kids in the car seats.

When I shut the door to walk around to the driver’s side I didn’t realize the car was locked. The keys, my phone, and both of my babies were inside.

Thankfully the car continued to run for a while but it did automatically shut off. Both babies were inside, at noon, in the middle of South Georgia’s extreme heat summer weather.

If you are EVER in such a situation, call 911. A locksmith will help break into your vehicle, at no cost to you. If children are locked inside – it’s free.

An ambulance will also come. I was thankful for the staff who helped check my babies and ensure they were both okay after the scary ordeal. You can read the entire story here.

It was quite a horrific experience, I think I took a week to fully calm down, but I’m grateful I can draw from that experience to help others! 

So let’s dive into ways we can keep a car seat cool in the summer. 

This post may contain affiliate links. 

How to keep a car seat cool in the summer. Keep kids and baby safe from overheating in the car seat with these tips!

How to Keep a Car Seat Cool in the Summer 

Keeping Car Seat Cool: Consider your Child’s Car Seat.

1. Fabric and color make a difference. 

According to Safe Kids Worldwide by way of The Car Seat Lady, a white car interior can be close to 60 degrees cooler than a black interior.

Even red, blue, and green interiors can be more than 20 degrees hotter than white. The same applies to car seat fabric. 

If possible, try to go for lighter colors rather than a black car seat.

Yes, lighter colors are harder to clean but if you have leather seats, and dark colors on the exterior and the interior of your car then it may be well worth it to invest in a light-colored fabric car seat.

Hey if you’re concerned about how to keep a car seat cool in the summer then investing in cooler fabrics is a great idea!

2. Go infant carrier first.

Are you shopping for car seats for a baby on the way? Spending time during your pregnancy researching all things car seat related?

Some parents skip the infant car seat option that snaps in and out of a base because they want to save money by going right away to a convertible car seat or other alternatives.

There are plenty of pros and cons to going with either option, but heat is a huge factor I encourage parents to consider. 

With an infant carrier car seat, the seat doesn’t get left in the car. The baby remains in the seat and the parent removes the seat from the car before removing the baby.

That also means the baby is placed into the car seat in a room-temperature environment rather than sitting in a hot car!

In those early days when the baby has very little ability to regulate her body temperature, you can skip the issue of having to put her in a hot seat by using an infant carrier.

Infant carrier-style seats are great for many reasons but I also love when you do take your baby out and about during the summer months the car seat can help keep baby cool by offering a shaded area for baby to lay!

My personal favorite infant carrier seat is the Chicco infant seat and travel system – it makes it a breeze to move the infant carrier seat from both the car to the stroller!

If you’re planning for summertime with a baby – here’s my list of summer baby essentials to have on hand!

How to keep a car seat cool in the summer. Keep kids and baby safe from overheating in the car seat with these tips!

3. Consider cooling fabrics. 

I don’t have personal experience with these “futuristic” car seat fabrics, but I certainly think they are worth considering! 

Familiar names like Britax, Chicco, and UPPAbaby, along with lesser-known brands like Clek and Dorel have a few options on the market that boast cooling fabrics.

Once your little one is ready to graduate from the infant carrier style of car seat you may want to invest in a car seat option that has features to help during those hot summer months!

I love this option from Safety 1st – the Grow and Go Comfort Cool All-in-One Convertible Car Seat. It allows for rear-facing up to 50 lbs, forward-facing until 65 lbs, and even converts to a belt-positioning booster.

This seat not only help keep the baby safe but also offers the ability to help the baby stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

From the description: “The Comfort Cool fabric technology on the inserts and covers can be customized depending on the weather. One side is plush to keep the baby warm and cozy, and the other side keeps the baby cool and dry. Wicking fabrics pull moisture away from baby’s skin for quicker evaporation, while the cooling aspect increases airflow and breathability.”

You can learn more about the features of this car seat here.

I say this is very worth considering because it’s not safe to add items not made by the car seat manufacturers to a car seat. I talk about this in my blog post How to Dress Baby for Car Seat in Winter

You don’t want anything coming between the baby and the car seat. Therefore, something built into the seat by the manufacturer could be a great option. 

If you are in the market for a car seat or you’re curious about these options with cooling fabrics, I recommend consulting BabyGearLab. They offer reviews and crash test results on a lot of baby gear. 

How to keep a car seat cool in the summer. Keep kids and baby safe from overheating in the car seat with these tips!

Looking to Buy a New Car?

Often when you’re adding a baby to your family you may also be adding a new vehicle.

If you are in the market for a new car, there are a lot of great advantages that come with newer models and packages. Some of the add-ons newer cars offer help a lot with the summer heat. 

  • Remote start

The ability to start your car a few minutes before you load up the kids is so helpful.

It doesn’t take a long time for the cold air to help cool a hot car seat. 

Many also can start the heater so you can have a nice, warm car in the winter months too.

  • Retractable sunshades

Some child safety groups are skeptical of window shades that suction to the window because they could fall off and hit the baby in the event of a crash.

Built-in retractable sunshades help take care of that. We had these in my van for years and they were WONDERFUL!

  • Window tinting

Many family-friendly vehicles now come with darker window tint on the side windows to help keep the car windows from letting in as much sunlight.

This can not only help keep the car cooler, but can also help prevent again the harmful uv rays!

  • Check the backseat reminders

Many newer models will “ding” as you exit the front seat and show a message in the dashboard that tells you not to forget your kids.

The little “ding” helps catch my attention every time because I immediately think I didn’t put the car in park or some other user error. 

Keep kids and baby safe from overheating in the car with these tips!

Cooling Gadgets to Help Keep a Car Seat Cool in Summer

  • Cool Carats

This car seat cooler from Cool Carats is pretty sweet. Just place the cooler in the freezer overnight and then lay it in the car seat. The freezable ice packs inside keep the seat cool for hours.

There are two things I love about this option. First, the child does NOT sit on top of it! The cooler only goes in the seat when the child is out.

Second, the metal buckle is shaded from the sun and cooled. There are not many solutions on the market that address the issue of hot buckles. 

  • Window shades

If your car doesn’t have built-in retractable shades or tinted windows, I think you need to have some way of blocking the light, at least when the car is parked. Think of it as black-out curtains for your car. 

There are a few different window shade options. I like these from a safety standpoint as they cling directly to the window and there are no concerns regarding potential injury should an automobile accident occur.

If you prefer shades that can retract these are also a popular option!

  • Spray fan or spray bottle

These were a lifesaver for my friend when her car’s AC went out in the middle of the Mojave Desert while on a family road trip.

The kids had zero clue the outside temperature was over 115 degrees while they had a water fight in the backseat.  

(Just pack extra clothes in case the kids are wet when you get to your destination!) 

  • Fans

There are several options for fans that are great additions to help keep cool.

I love these styles of fans because they are flexible and can be attached to the car seat headrest to have a nice angle of airflow for a rear-facing infant.

They are also excellent for attaching to strollers to help keep cool when out and about (like at theme parks!).

Of course, be mindful of where you place the fan in the car as you want to be aware of little ones, toddler especially, who may put their finger in the blades or get their hair caught.

Need more family road trip tips? I’ve got you covered!

How to keep a car seat cool in the summer. Keep kids and baby safe from overheating in the car seat with these tips!
  • The Noggle

If your car’s air conditioner does not do a great job of getting cool air to the back seat, check out The Noggle! This tube-like device attaches to your vent and directs the air wherever you want.  

This will keep baby cool if he doesn’t have his own vent and will help keep older children more comfortable (and maybe cut back on whining in the car).

  • Car seat canopy

This car seat canopy can be left in the car to shade the car seat from direct sunlight. This could be useful for shorter trips, like to the grocery store or out to eat. 

I would not recommend leaving the canopy up while you are driving, however. The canopy can trap heat and block cool air from getting in. It will also cut off your ability to see your baby with headrest mirrors. 

  • Car cooler

A great investment may be a cooler for your car. This cooler plugs into the car to help keep it cold. My husband uses one for road trips when he’s working so he can pack meals to take with him.

Having this in your car can be a great way to keep kids cool during summer months – have cold drinks on hand to help hydrate.

How can this cooler help keep a car seat cool? Simple! Keep some nice, cold water bottles on hand to be able to pass back to your child in their car seats. For babies, this may mean keeping a sippy cup of cool water ready! Or just pass back a cold water bottle for them to hold which will also help keep them cool.

  • Cooling towels

While infants shouldn’t use cooling towels, older toddlers may enjoy the refreshing coolness against their skin. We use these cooling towels all the time at Disney World and they work great at quickly cooling the skin and helping anyone feel refreshed.

A great thing about this set of cooling towels is they come in little carry pouches making it easy to toss in a diaper bag for on the go!

Keep kids and baby safe from overheating in the car seat with these tips!

Beat the Summer Heat with these DIY Ideas

  • Make a car seat cooler. 

In case you don’t have the spare cash for gadgets or you just prefer using what’s on hand, check out this free sewing pattern for car seat cover coolers from Domestic Charm. 

With this free sewing pattern, basic materials, a sewing machine, and basic sewing skills, you can make your own car seat cooler! 

  • Place a sock over the metal buckle.

Just by placing a sock over the buckle, you can help insulate it. It will still get hot, but it might not be as hot as a branding iron in the dog days of summer.

In fact, placing a sock over the buckle can serve double duty – helping keep the buckle cooler as well as helping prevent children from unbuckling!

When my oldest daughter was a toddler she figured out how to unbuckle – my fix was to put a toilet paper roll over it!

Planning for Safety, Comfort, and Fun in the Summer

Car seat safety can be a little bit of a heavy topic, but the good news is if we make a plan and establish healthy habits, we can avoid a lot of heartaches as well as know how to keep a car seat cool in the summer. 

To recap, those healthy habits can include:

  • never leaving kids in the car without an adult
  • being mindful of them when we are getting in and out of the car so we don’t forget them 
  • keeping the car locked when we aren’t in it so kids can’t play inside without us knowing
  • packing and using tools that can help kids stay cool in the car

There are plenty of gadgets and accessories that can help keep car seats cool during the summer season. There are also some good DIY ideas for you crafty mamas. 

And, of course, there are the more obvious practical ways to keep your car cooler too – be sure to always park in a shaded area and to leave windows cracked to help airflow.

I want to finish this post on a really happy note and allow my excitement for summer to spillover! 

While the hot summer days bring specific challenges (like scalding metal buckles and heat rashes), the abundance of sunshine and warmth invites us to enjoy splash pads, pools, beach trips, and other outdoor adventures! I love it! 

You can take advantage of the summer months by being prepared! Pack for spontaneity and build a summer bucket list while creating a summer schedule that works best for your crew.

And don’t forget to stock up on some fun summer essentials for Mama too 😉

Stop by my post, Summer Activities with Kids, for some summertime inspiration. With a little extra intentionality, we can soak up all the fun summer has to offer with our kids and do so safely!

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