As a safety-conscious parent, you pay attention to the materials used in your child’s car seats. In the last few years, there have been concerns about the safety and necessity of fire-retardant chemical treatments on car-seat fabrics.
In fact, researchers did a study on 18 different car seats and 15 of the seats tested had hazardous chemical additives (source).Because of these concerns consumers have become more aware of the need for non-toxic car seat fabrics.
After exploring the fabrics on car seats, we have determined which are the best options for non-toxic fabrics. The Nuna Pipa Lite LX is completely non-toxic car seat that also has superior safety features. Other non toxic car seats are clek Liing, Foonf, Fllo, Oobr, UPPAbaby Mesa and Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus.
Top Non Toxic Car Seats
|Product||Height Limit||Weight Limit||Type|
|Nuna Pipa||32”||4-32 lbs||Infant
|UPPAbaby Mesa||32”||4-35 lbs||Infant|
|Clek Oobr||57”||40-100 lbs||Booster
|Britax Endeavours||32”||4-35 lbs||Infant|
Britax Advocate ClickTight
|Nuna RAVA||49”||5-65 lbs||Convertible|
|Nuna Pipa Lite||32”||4-32 lbs||Infant|
|Nuna Lite R||32”||4-32 lbs||Infant|
|Nuna Lite LX||32”||4-32 lbs||Infant|
|Nuna RX||32”||4-32 lbs||Infant|
|Nuna EXEC||49”||5-65 lbs||Convertible|
|Nuna Aace||60”||40-120 lbs||Booster|
|Clek Liing||32”||4-35 lbs||Infant
|Clek Foonf||49”||14-65 lbs||Toddler
|Clek Fllo||43”||14-50 lbs||Toddler
Are Flame Retardants Toxic In Car Seats?
Unlike various baby products, car seats are required to meet certain flammability standards for car interiors specified by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 302. This was created in 1971 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
They are a cost-effective way to meet such standards, but they’ve been linked to various negative health effects that can include cancer, liver damage, impaired brain development, hormone disruption, and more.
Children are more likely to be exposed to such risks because they are smaller and tend to put their hands in their mouths. Additionally, they can be exposed to flame retardants in car seats because they breathe the chemicals that seep out of the fabrics and foam.
This is especially true in the summer months when heat increases the rate at which these retardants are exposed to a poorly ventilated closed environment. Children can also ingest the dust that builds up in vehicles through skin contact or by putting their mouth on the car seat.
During one study, these car seats were shown to have the highest concern based on flame retardants used:
- Evenflo Sureride DLX
- Eddie Bauer XRS 65
- Baby Trend EX Flex Loc
- Evenflo Nurture
- Graco Contender 65
- Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30
These car seats had a moderate concern:
- Maxi-Cosi Mico 30
- Cosco Scenera NEXT
- Britax Roundabout
A 2018 study performed by Indiana University researchers compared more than 300 components of 18 children’s car seats using HD-XRF and FTIR (source). They tested 36 fabric and foam samples from 18 car seats.
They also tested the seats for treatments that were most likely to contain per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. Here are a couple of things they found:
- 34 out of 36 seats tested positive for excessive levels of dangerous flame retardants
- 4 out of 4 car seats contained PBDEs in low levels
- 9 out of 18 car seats had levels of fluorine that suggested PFASs were intentionally added to the fabric
- 4 samples contained decabromodiphenyl ethane which has been linked to oxidative stress, hormone imbalance, and thyroid issues
- 83% of car seat components studies still contain fire retardants that could be hazardous
- 20% of the samples at sub-ppm levels showed chlorinated tris and TDCIPP
Why Buy Non-Toxic Car Seats?
Flame retardants have been used in many foam products children touch and use on a daily basis. This includes everything from changing pads to car seats.
The reason behind this is that Federal law requires children’s car seats and other products to be fire-resistant based on specific flammability standards. This would seem like a good idea, correct?
Unfortunately, scientists have agreed that flame retardants can cause harm to the health of you and your child, more so in children. Studies have shown that exposure to these substances can lead to developmental challenges, hormone disruption, infertility, and more. Additionally, it’s been shown that flame retardants can cause cancer.
If you’re concerned about flame retardants in your child’s car seat, then it’s time to make the switch to a car seat that’s free of flame retardants and harmful chemicals.
Best Non Toxic Car Seats
1.Nuna Pipa Lite LX Infant Carrier –Naturally Flame Retardant and Non-Toxic
This one made the top of our list for a few reasons. For starters, seat brand is one of the few that offer a non-toxic car seat. The fabric is naturally flame retardant, and, and the brand doesn’t use any chemical flame retardants on this seat.
The fabric is also removable and machine-washable, and the seat has an extendable canopy to shield your baby’s eyes from the sun, wind, and rain. The canopy also offers UPF 50, so you don’t need to worry about sunburns either.
They make the seat from aerospace-grade aluminum and is super lightweight, which will save your arms. You will even find that the carrying handle is ergonomic and made to fit your arm well.
The seat also exceeds all American safety standards.
It uses Aeroflex shock-absorbing foam along with fused plastic to optimize safety. The micro-knit fabric is super durable without being bulky as well.
They equipped the headrest with patented Tailer Tech memory foam for added comfort and can adjust with your baby as well. You can use this non-toxic car seat with your baby from infancy until they reach 32 pounds.
We would like to note, though, that this seat can only be installed with the base it comes with. It is not designed for regular belt path installation, which can be a big issue if you often ride share.
- Comfortable Memory Foam Headrest
- Non Toxic
- Super Lightweight
- It Weighs 5.7lbs
- Optimal Sun Protection
- Must Be Installed with the Included Base
2.UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Carrier – 100% Non-Toxic
This infant carrier was the first to be introduced with natural, flame retardant fabric. It also comes equipped with a SMARTsecure installation system to make installing the seat easier and safe too.
The SMARTsecure system has auto-retracting connectors and a red-to-green visual indicator to ensure the seat installs to fit your child’s size. You can use this seat with your child until they reach 35 pounds or 32 inches tall.
Perfect for Preemies
This is a great seat for preemie babies because it has a low harness position, and the infant insert has a built-in wedge to create a flatter and safer position for your baby. The seat’s integrated headrest offers advanced side-impact protection to keep baby safe.
The side-impact protection is incorporated in the seat’s shell, and it has EPP foam wings to help disperse impact in case of an accident.
Henry and Jordan are the only models that are made of wool blend fabric that passes the flammability testing. Therefore, those are the only two models that are non-toxic!
On the contrary, Uppababy Mesa–Jake is a polyester blend and has a minimal amount of flame retardants with no other chemicals added. It is also $50 cheaper than Henry and Jordan.
- Great for Preemies
- Advanced Side-Impact Protection
- Easy to Install,
- 100% Non Toxic
- Seat Isn’t Very Breathable
- Heavy–10 pounds
3.Clek Fllo Convertible Car Seat–Super Compact & Narrow
Not only is this seat free of chemical flame retardants, but it’s super compact and encourages extended rear-facing as well.
The seat itself will accommodate your rear-facing child from 14 to 50 pounds and is usable during infancy from 4 pounds with an infant insert sold.
The forward-facing mode is usable until 65 pounds. The seat itself weighs 25 pounds. This seat fits three across in the back seat, which is convenient for families of multiples or a family with 3 under 4.
It comes with advanced side-impact protection and an anti-rebound bar for added safety measures. Its fabric is stain-resistant and protects against moisture and odor-causing bacteria.
- Comfortable Padding
- Super Compact
- Encourages Extended Rear-Facing
- Comes with an Anti-Rebound Bar
- Doesn’t Come with Extra Convenience Features
4.Clek Foonf Rigid Latch Convertible – Energy-Absorbing Crumple Technology
For parents looking for safety innovation, this is a good seat to consider. It’s made with Clek’s patented Rigid-LATCH Energy-Absorbing Crumple Technology (REACT) which gives the same safety forward-facing as rear-facing does for children.
You can use this seat with your child from 14 to 50 pounds rear-facing and up to65 pounds forward-facing. You can also use this one from birth, but you’ll need to purchase the infant insert.
Patented Safety Technology
It also comes with a steel anti-rebound bar, a metal substructure, multiple layers of energy-absorbing foam, and a structured adjustable headrest for side-impact protection. The seat comes with easy-to-install equipment and has a smooth recline system for the most comfortable ride.
- Energy-Absorbing Technology
- Smooth Recline Feature
- Steel Anti-Rebound Bar
- Encourages Extended Rear-Facing
- Heavier Than Most Seats-Weighs 38lbs
5.Nuna Rava Convertible Seat – Designed for Extended Rear-Facing
This one made our top pick as non-toxic convertible seats because it provides a safe seat both chemically and physically while also giving the most comfort to your child. The seat is also preferred because it encourages extended rear-facing. It’s designed for extra legroom during rear-facing which is nice.
You can rear-face your child in this seat up to 50 pounds and then forward-face up to 65 pounds.
It comes equipped with energy-absorbing foam and side-impact protection pods for safety. The seat’s all-steel frame and reinforced belt path also offer added protection. You can adjust the harness with one hand and comes equipped with 10 different recline positions for your child.
Super Easy to Install and Air-Travel Approved
The fabric is breathable and has its own ventilation system. Its cup holders flip open and closed so you can save space when you’re not using them.
- Removable Inserts
- 10 Different Recline Positions
- Breathable Fabric
- The Seat is too upright in some vehicles
- Heavy–27 pounds
How Effective Are Flame Retardants in Car Seats?
There is some conflicting evidence to support whether or not flame retardants are actually effective. Flame retardants are added to car seats for a specific reason.
That reason is to slow down the time it takes for your child’s car seat to ignite and incinerate. This is meant to help give you a few extra seconds to remove your child from the car seat before the flames spread.
In theory, these flame retardants could potentially save your child’s life, but according to fire scientist Dr. Vyto Babrauskas, formerly the head of furniture fire research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, it’s quite the contrary.
He claimed that essentially unless the fire is ignited inside of the car seat foam itself, real-world car fire flames are too large for retardants to provide any significant benefit.
Are Non-Toxic Car Seats Without Flame Retardants Safe?
Before car seats were flame-retardant-free, Julie Watts, an investigative consumer reporter, completed a side-by-side test of car seat covers to see how effective flame retardants were in a fire.
The car seat cover without flame retardants performed better than the ones with flame retardants.
Car seat companies choose to use fabrics that are non-toxic, but also flame-retardant without the use of chemicals. They can do this by blending certain foams and fabrics, using multiple layers of fabric, etc. So yes, car seats without flame retardants are safe to use.
Which Car Seats Have No Flame Retardants?
Fortunately, there are car seats on the market that are non-toxic with no flame retardants or PFAs.
With all the concerns surrounding flame retardants, we suggest investing in a car seat that is free of flame retardants. Here are some non-toxic car seats that may be of interest to you:
- Nuna Pipa, Pipa Lite, Lite R, Lite LX, RX, RAVA, EXEC, Aace
- Clek Liing, Foonf, Fllo, Oobr
- Britax Endeavours, Advocate ClickTight, One4Life, Grow With You ClickTight Plus, Pinnacle ClickTight
- UPPAbaby Mesa
- Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus
- Chicco ClearTex
Are Graco Car Seats Non-Toxic?
Graco is one of the leading car seat manufacturers in the world thanks to its affordability and safety.
Unfortunately, the fabric and filling materials used in Graco’s car seats are treated with halogenated and/or phosphorus-based flame retardant chemicals. This is to ensure federal regulations are met. There is no accreditation for chemical safety provided by Graco.
Does Chicco Use Flame Retardants?
Many of Chicco’s car seats do contain some type of flame retardant to meet federal safety regulations, but recently they have created a car seat, called the ClearTex, that meets federal flammability standards without added chemical treatments.
They do this by using a blend of polyester fibers to produce a fabric that is fire-resistant and gentle on your child.
Are Maxi-Cosi Car Seats Non-Toxic
Most of Maxi-Cosi’s car seats are non-toxic with the exception of the Mico 30. However, they have developed several car seats that meet flammability standards through the certain fabric and design choices without added chemicals.
Most of the material used is polyester and woven multiple times to provide an effective solution to being fire retardant. This helps protect your child while reducing the accumulation of PBDEs and PFAs in the air.
Are Baby Joggers Non-Toxic?
Not all baby joggers are non-toxic, but we have come up with a list of baby joggers that are:
Types of Flame Retardants
There are hundreds of types of flame retardants, often split into categories based on their chemical structure and properties.
You’ll find that they’re grouped based on what they contain. There are two types of flame retardants which include halogenated and non-halogenated. Here are some of the other most common types of flame retardants found in car seats:
1.Brominated Flame Retardants
These flame retardants contain bromine and are the most commonly used. They are used in many consumer goods that may include furniture, building materials, electronics, and more. Bromine has been linked to endocrine disruption and other side effects.
2.Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
PBDEs don’t bind with what they are added to, such as furniture, electronics, etc.) so they release very easily from the products they are in and enter air and dust.
It’s been shown that PBDEs can lower birth weight and height of children as well as impair their neurological development. One study in 2018 showed PBDEs to be in 15 out of 18 different car seats tested even though it was supposed to be phased out of use in 2013.
3.Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
This flame retardant isn’t likely to be found in car seats as it’s widely used to make computer circuit boards and electronics as well as certain textiles and paper. It can also be an additive in other flame retardants.
HBCDs are an additive used mainly in polystyrene foam building materials. It can leak from products and attach itself to indoor dust, making it a hazard to humans. Low levels of HBCDs have also been observed in some food products.
5.Organophosphate Flame Retardants (OPFRs)
Since phasing out PBDEs, some organophosphate flame retardants have been identified as replacements.
6.Per-and Poly-Fluoroalkyl (PFAs)
These chemicals are used to make products non-stick such as Teflon as well as stain proof and waterproof. PFAs have been linked to weakened childhood immunity, cancer, reproductive issues, and endocrine disruption.
7.Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
EPS is found in foam used in car seats. It helps absorb any impact when an accident occurs. The foam used in almost all car seats is made from EPS or EPP (Expanded Polypropylene).
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if a car seat uses chemical flame retardants?
It’s always best to do your research. Look for the type of materials that are listed as being used to make the car seat’s cover. If you still aren’t sure, you can always reach out to the manufacturer and ask. They aren’t allowed to lie to you.
I can’t afford to spend $400 on a car seat, aren’t there non-toxic options that are more budget-friendly?
Unfortunately, the three brands that market themselves as “non-toxic” are more pricey than other car seat brands. However, there are car seats on the market that use little added substances to their seats so they’re less likely to affect your child.
What kind of fabrics are naturally flame retardant?
A good indicator that a car seat is non-toxic is if it’s made with wool or a wool blend. Wool is naturally flame retardant so it eliminates the need for added chemicals.
Which car seat brands are considered “non-toxic?”
The three brands that are most known for their non-toxic car seats are Nuna, Clek, and UPPABaby. Britax has also taken steps toward becoming a more non-toxic brand as well.
Cleaning of Non-Toxic Car Seats
You’re also going to want to pay close attention to the cleaning instructions. Some non-toxic seats will come with a certain fabric that needs to be washed specifically to preserve quality.
However, you should not compromise convenience for just because you want a safer seat. We suggest choosing a seat that has a machine-washable fabric. bonus if it’s dryer-safe as well.
Non Toxic Car Seat Accessories
As important as non-toxic car seats are, so are the accessories that we so often buy along with them. Here are some non-toxic car seat accessories that are worth checking out.
Organic Cotton Car Seat Cover
This car seat cover is completely organic and is also extremely versatile. It slips right over your child’s infant carrier to shield them from the sun or inclement weather.
It can also be used as a shopping cart or nursing cover too. This particular one comes in a floral print, but you can find plenty of gender-neutral or boy-ish prints that are organic as well.
This mat is a good one to pair with a Clek car seat of your choosing. It’s made of 100 percent rubber and is meant to protect your vehicle’s backseat. It will also prevent the car seat from slipping around. This mat is also LATCH-friendly so you don’t need to worry about it getting in the way of the anchors.
Clek Infant-Thingy Infant Insert
If you want to use the Clek convertible seat we talked about above for your newborn, you’ll need to purchase this insert. Without the insert, you can’t use the car seat until your child reaches 14 pounds.
With the insert, you can use the seat with your child as small as 5 pounds. The insert is removable but should only be washed by hand.
Clek Foonf Drink Thingy
The Clek Foonf doesn’t come with any built-in cup holders. If you decide on that seat and you want convenience for your child, you’re going to want this cupholder too. The drink thingy is made of plastic and is dishwasher safe. It also comes with a one-year warranty.
The safety of your child is important and therefore the use of fire-retardants should be avoided at all costs. They can cause more damage than good by exposing your child to harmful chemicals.
Children are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemicals because their brains and other organs are still in development. The fact that they put their hands in their mouth exposes them to flame retardants even more.
We suggest investing in one of the non-toxic car seats above. There are several brands, although pricier than EvenFlo or Graco, that are better for you and your child. There’s no risk of harmful toxins entering your child’s body and they’re much safer.