A Question for Car Seat Manufacturers

Alternate title: It could always be worse

Dear Car Seat Manufacturers,

Why do you design your car seats so that they are unnecessarily difficult to clean?

A Frustrated Dad


My daughter became sick Friday evening. Although she has the power of speech, the first sign of her illness was expressed with red beans, green beans, chow mein noodles, yogurt, corn and veggie hot dog bits splattering over her chest, her 5-point-harness and the nooks and crannies of her car seat. These things represented her partially digested lunch and dinner.

Did you know that strawberry yogurt will glob together in the stomach and come back out resembling small bits of flesh, or perhaps pieces of a coughed up lung?

In theory, a car seat cover should be easy to remove. The problem is that the seat belt runs from the seat’s base up and out through holes in the seat cover. I had to remove four screws off the back of the base in order to thread the belt out of the seat cover.

Is it not possible in the 21st century to design a child car seat cover that is easily removed for washing?

This was my daughter’s first flu-like sickness. Mom works weekends, so I was night watchman as my 2.5-year-old daughter dry heaved every 20 minutes through the night. After the first two sheet changes she learned to use a mixing bowl. (Actually, I had her sleep on top of blankets instead of changing her entire bed linen each time.) She was better by Monday afternoon.

Incidentally, also this weekend Suzanne Galante of Mother in Chief got back to me about a query nixed by a spam filter during the summer. Her son has an ongoing situation with heart problems and in one blog post she mentioned the name of a cyclist in her husband’s cycling group who raced in honor of her son Riley. That someone turns out to be a friend I went on cycling trips with in junior high before he moved and we attended different high schools.

So we’ve been exchanging e-mails, doing a bit of reminiscing about old times. It turns he’s a dad with two kids, one of whom also needed open-heart surgery. Specifically, his daughter was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect—a hole in her heart. It’s much less of an ordeal than what Suzanne’s son is going through, but it’s still open-fraking-heart-surgery. It’s still a world of hurt away from me whining about a dirty car seat. It was a good reminder to be thankful that puke is my biggest problem.

If you want a children’s book on the subject, try It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach. It’s a Yiddish folk tale about a noisy, overcrowded house. When the father complains, his rabbi has him progressively move all of the family’s farm animals into the home. Each time the father complains louder, the rabbi orders more animals into the home, until finally the animals are sent back to the barn and the father realizes he has a great life.


6 Responses to “A Question for Car Seat Manufacturers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    did not these cause soem major fires somewhere lately? i thought i read a story about these///

    January 17th, 2007 at 9:14 am

  2. Overwhelemd! says:

    Excellent question! We’ve had at least one major puking in the carseat incident with our 2 year old that left us baffled at how we were ever going to get his carseat clean again. We were tempted to just buy a replacement!

    January 17th, 2007 at 11:47 am

  3. Suzanne says:

    Small world, eh… glad you two connected.

    January 20th, 2007 at 4:55 pm

  4. Lucinda says:

    Yikes! And the SMELL! The last episode we had left a shall we say distinctive odor! I suppose I can live with the smells and the difficulties in cleaning the seats if they would just get their act together on Car seat safety! I just read this lady’s page and it was pretty thought provoking!


    Does anybody else wonder about the Consumer Report data retraction?

    January 24th, 2007 at 11:25 am

  5. Nicki says:

    I had the same exact car seat. Emphasis on “HAD”! I just threw it in the dumpster this morning. My daughter gets car sick quite frequently. This car seat is the worst design for clean up ever! Not only do you have to unscrew the 8 screws to take the cover off but several times I have had to go one step further and unscrew the entire unit and take it apart into 6 pieces to get to the puke on the inside. I’ve washed the cover 10+ times and it is falling apart. I can’t tell you how liberated I felt dropping that thing in the dumpster this morning!

    May 21st, 2007 at 8:25 am

  6. Jools says:

    Just buy a Britax. Sure it’s expensive, but it’s actually easy to clean ;)

    January 10th, 2009 at 4:56 am

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