When your baby is young, a seatbelt guard is one of those items that you figure you don’t actually need. Eventually, that child grows up and notices just how easy it is to escape a harness or seat belt. It’s then that you’ll realize how much you really, really need a seat belt guard.
Picture this. You’re driving down the highway with your son or daughter buckled up in the backseat. The speedometer approaches 60 miles per hour and suddenly – click. In the front seat, you tense up. Your eyes dart to the mirror and you see your child crawling across the backseat. They unbuckled themselves and are now free to roam the car. Now what? If that imaginary scenario stressed you out, or if it sounds too familiar, read on. These seat belt guards are designed to fix the problem.
What is a Seat Belt Guard?
A seat belt guard is a product designed to prevent a passenger from unbuckling their seat belt. Some guards work with car seats, while others work with adult seat belts. For little ones still in car seats, there are two areas they can unbuckle: the chest clip and the crotch buckle. The chest clip can either be unbuckled or pushed down until the child’s arms are free. The crotch buckle of car seats has a large button that can be pressed.
Chest clip guards keep clips closed and in place. Crotch buckle guards keep the release button from prying fingers. For children utilizing an adult seat belt, that bright red release button is still tempting. A seat belt buckle guard secures over the button so it can’t be pressed. Usually, an adult can release the cover using a thin object, like a car key.
Do I Need a Seat Belt Guard?
If you’re a parent and asking the question, then you probably don’t need one – yet. A newborn is very unlikely to manage to Houdini out of his or her car seat, after all. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, parents of infants. Escape acts are usually toddler territory. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine conducted a survey of 378 parents. The findings were sobering.
51% of the families of young children reported at least one of their children have unbuckled their seat belts. 43% of them did it while the car was in motion. In the survey, the youngest escape artist was only 12 months old. Two-thirds of the children were under three years of age. Boys tended to escape more often than girls.
The first time that buckle comes undone, you may marvel at your child’s developing abilities. However, this isn’t a milestone you want to repeat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts save lives. In 2017 alone, more than 34,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents. 47% were not wearing a seat belt. It is incredibly vital that your children stay buckled while the car is in motion at all times. Even a moment unbuckled is too long. Seat belt guards can keep them secured.
Beware of the Universal Fit
Of course, we all want the promise of a “universal-fit” to actually deliver a truly universal fit. Ideally, every seat belt guard would fit every car seat and every seat belt. That’s not always the cause though. Most seat belt guards slip over existing straps or buckles. Install is usually simple. Thanks to federal standards, most car seat harnesses, and seat belts are relatively standardized. Still, all cars are different. If you have a particularly unique car, a universal fit may not apply to your vehicle. The lesson to take with you here is to keep your receipt and packaging in case you need to make a return.
Top Crotch Buckle Guard
After extensive research and surveying other moms, we narrowed the top crotch buckle guards to one winner. You could say buckled the competition! Our choice for the number one crotch buckle guard is:
The large red button found on the crotch buckle of a car seat is like a flashing “press me!” button to a toddler. This cushioned guard keeps it out of sight – and replaces it with a cute teddy decal. The install takes only seconds. The buckle guard slips right over the buckle. Watch out though – when the harness isn’t clicked in, the guard can slip off. This product is also great for kids who find that crotch buckle uncomfortable since it is made with 1 centimeter of thick spongy material.
- Cute embroidered teddy bear design
- Easy to install
- Comfortable and cushioned
- Can easily slip off when buckle not in use
- Not compatible with Maxi-Cosi car seats
Top Chest Clip Guard
Clip guards are more prominent in European countries because chest clips do not come standard on their car seats. Because of this, children can wriggle themselves out of straps easier. Here in the States, chest clips are required on every car seat. Still, little Houdinis can find ways to escape. Namely, they can unlatch the clip themselves. We spoke to mothers of expert escape artists. These mothers all praised one particular product. We heard and we listened! Our choice for the top chest clip guard is:
This chest clip guard includes a secure locking mechanism that can only be opened with one of the two included parent keys. No Houdini will be escaping this! This clip guard has sleeves that slip over the straps of a car seat harness to replace the current chest clip. Once that’s on, it’s just a matter of snapping and locking the center of the buckle! Parents love how secure this lock is. Review after review assures readers that the peace of mind this accessory brings is worth every penny.
- Lock can only be opened with parent key
- Can only be used on car seats that feature a splitter plate on the harness
- Special key can be lost
Best Seat Belt Buckle Guards
While it may seem minor, the Widdi buckle guard comes with a cord. What’s special about this? When the buckle is not engaged, guards often don’t stay put. A cord helps keeps this guard from getting lost in the backseat.
With a buckle guard, vehicular safety is number one. Still, there are other factors to consider. This heavy-duty plastic is non-toxic and BPA-free. While most car seat belt buckle guards try to deliver a universal fit, Widdi promises their product can fit over 99% of cars.
- Easy to install
- Universal fit
- Made from heavy-duty non-toxic plastic
- Can be opened with another seat belt
With car seat buckles, there is one reoccurring worry: what happens in an accident and I can’t get the guard off fast enough? Most buckle guards can be opened with a car key, but if that isn’t an option in a crash?
Buckleroo addresses this. In the side hidden away, there is a built-in breakaway key that can be accessed in case of an emergency. This buckle guard is made from durable and shatterproof plastic. Sweltering hot? Bitter cold? Buckleroo is good to go.
- Built-in breakaway key for emergencies
- Plastic can withstand extreme temperatures
- Easy to install
- Doesn’t fit all seat belts
The BuckleBoss is the original seat belt buckle guard! A nurse (who was also a mom!) patented it in 2001. This buckle guard can be modified to fit your car’s specific seat belt buckle. It’s made in the USA! In fact, it’s labeled and packaged by special needs students in Massachusetts.
- Made in the USA
- Comes with slim sticks to open (or a car key can be used)
- Not a universal size and must be modified for some cars
- Can be opened with another seat belt
With a product like this, safety is the number one priority. After-market products like seat belt guards are not regulated like car seats. For accessories like these, customers have to depend on the experiences of other customers.
Ease of Use
Parents are full of dread when it comes time to move the car seat in or out of a car. It’s a time-consuming chore. For a car seat belt, we certainly don’t need the added stress. The easier it is to install, the better.
We all have budgets! Safety is number one, but the price is high on that priority list too. For a safety accessory like this, you don’t have to break the bank. The higher the rating, the better the price.
|Anti Escape Buckle Cover|
|Luminira Chest Clip Guard for Car Seat|
|Widdi Car Seat Belt Buckle Guard|
|BuckleRoo Seat Belt Buckle Guard|
|BuckleBoss Seat Belt Buckle Guard|
No Escaping: Seat Belt Guards to Keep Your Kids Buckled Up
The road full of cars is a scary place when one of those cars has your precious little one inside. A seat belt or car seat harness is your child’s first line of defense in a car accident. Those simple devices are lifesavers.
If your child has a habit of escaping their harness or seat belt, you’re probably concerned. Thankfully, there are products designed to keep your child secure and, most importantly, safe. Choosing the right one for your family means you can feel confident as you transport your children.