Little ones can make big messes! Rear facing is safest for your child, but it sure can make a mess of your vehicle seat. What can be done about the dirt and grime left by little feet? There are several options for covering the seat from repurposing household baby related items, or other basic items, to purchasing specialty mats.
When babies are younger, dirty shoes aren’t a problem. However, as baby grows and becomes more mobile, removing baby’s shoes is an effective (and free!) way to make sure the seats stay clean. It does take a little more work to get them on and off each time, especially if you have several rear facing toddlers, but it does keep the seats clean. Some parents may choose to leave shoes on and clean the vehicle regularly, which works for many, but may be time-consuming.
Towels or small blankets are another inexpensive option as we generally always have these available. Most of us even have towels that have seen better days but we’re just not sure what to do with them. Using them to protect your back seat is a good option. This one is just tucked under the head restraint and secured by lowering the head restraint over it. You could cut along the edge to make a hole that could drape over the head rest as well.
Put your old receiving blankets to good use by tucking them under a head restraint and consider pins to help secure it in place around the head restraint. This method is also very effective for vehicles or seating positions where no head restraint is available.
Once the towel or blanket is secured, you can tuck it in around the car seat for a snug fit. Install the car seat first, then add the fabric cover. A towel or blanket can also be placed so it covers the back of the seat, keeping it protected from forward facing kiddos’ shoes as well.
Another easy method, if you have captain’s chairs, is the t-shirt over the back seat. This may require a trip to the thrift store to pick up a few bigger t-shirts than you have lying around, but it will still probably be less expensive than buying a specialty cover for the seat back. If you don’t have captain’s chairs, you can cut the shirt up the side or middle and, again, make a drape for the seat vs. covering the entire seat. Just install the car seat, then add the shirt. As an added bonus, this method protects both sides of the seat at once.
Ever wonder what to do with old nursing covers when you’ve moved on from that stage? Drape one on the back seat to protect it from those dirty shoes! This is a great way to reuse something you might have laying around, plus it’s easy to remove and clean.
Another option is buying kick mats that hang from the back seat to help protect the car from dirty feet. Simply install the car seat properly and then add the mat afterward, tucking the mat in between the car seat and vehicle seat if necessary. There are several different brands of mats available for purchase. Refer to your car seat manual for specific rules on using a kick mat.
Generally, a full-size seat protector or mat under the car seat isn’t recommended because it can interfere with the installation of the car seat itself. Additionally, dirt and liquid can get trapped under the mat which can make for a sticky, wet, or even moldy mess – which defeats the purpose of using one! Some restraint manufacturers, including Britax and Diono, allow the use of their own brand mats. Some manufacturers don’t allow any mats at all, and others have very specific rules. We have an article with even more information car seat protectors, take a look!
Whether it is winter (and slushy boot season) or April showers coming your way, there are many ways to keep the vehicle seats from being sullied by little feet. There is no one-size-fits-all method, and trying several options may help parents narrow down the best setup for their vehicle/seat combination.