The surprising factor that makes car seats less safe

If it's not specifically approved by your car seat's manufacturer for use with your seat, you shouldn't use it.

The surprising factor that makes car seats less safe

We all want our babies to be comfortable and happy during car rides, so it totally makes sense that some parents seek out aftermarket accessories to make car seats more cozy or more fun. Clip-on playthings, head cushions or soft strap covers can be tempting when you're shopping in the baby section, but using them may actually defeat the purpose of your car seat.

Aftermarket, third-party accessories can void car seat warranties and, even worse, make babies less safe.

If it's not specifically approved by your car seat's manufacturer for use with your seat, you shouldn't use it.

One mom, Hannah McKinney Pope, recently learned that lesson after her 2-month-old daughter was ejected from her car seat during a vehicle rollover. In a now viral Facebook post warning other parents, McKinney Pope blames faux shearling seat belt covers, an aftermarket accessory she'd added to her daughter's car seat, noting that the car seat straps and base worked as expected and stayed tight, but the third-part gear she'd added worked against the car seat in the crash.


"The sheep skin [sic] slid against her shirt and made her go flying out. Please please please people DO NOT put things on a car seat that did not come that way from the manufacturer," McKinney Pope wrote on Facebook.

Third-party, aftermarket accessories are not recommended by car seat experts or manufacturers as they are not subject to the same government regulations as car seats.

Aftermarket harness strap covers, like those used by McKinney Pope, are specifically recommended against as they can prevent the straps from being tightened properly and prevent the chest clip from being positioned at chest level. If a long strap cover prevents the chest clip from being positioned properly, the risk of an ejection increases.

Head supports that were not designed for your particular cat seat, as well as seat covers, dangling toys and attachable mirrors are also not recommended.

Joe Colella, the Director of Child Passenger Safety for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), says car seats must be used according to the car seat and vehicle instructions in order to protect children from crash-related injuries.

"Only use accessories that are specifically recommended by your car seat manufacturer for use with your car seat. If inappropriate accessories are added, the safety and performance of a car seat may be compromised. If the car seat manufacturer does not allow the accessory, a child may be seriously injured and manufacturer warranties may be voided," Colella tells Motherly.

He suggests parents check their car seat instruction manual, consult with manufacturer customer service, or review the car seat manufacturer website before adding any kind of child restraint accessory to a car seat.

Many car seats are sold with strap covers and other accessories that have been designed, tested and approved by the manufacturer for use with that particular seat. If you think you'd like to use car seat strap covers, or some other type of add-on, shop around for a seat that comes with that accessory specifically designed to work with that seat.

A lot of car seat manufacturers sell their own car seat accessories separately, so if you've already got a car seat, heading back to the manufacturer for accessories is the best bet, as long as the accessory has been tested and approved for that seat.

We all want our babies to be cozy and happy during car rides, but more than anything else, we want to keep them safe.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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