It’s a car seat safety rule that always bears repeating: Never put a baby or toddler into car seat if they’re wearing a coat. The added puffy material puts enough space in between the child and the shoulder restraints to render the seat practically useless. In the event of an accident, the baby will not be protected.
As such, parents who live in cold climates generally have a few options for those frigid morning commutes: A warm blanket over a properly secured infant, a specially made coat such as the Buckle Me (which older kids can wear as well), or a proper baby car seat cover that fits over the top and seals the warmth in.
Obviously, a blanket is the cheapest option but car seat covers have become almost equally as ubiquitous these days since they’re generally designed with an elastic edge that fits almost any car seat on the market. Which means you don’t need to pay a lot for one sold specifically by the maker of your car seat. And as they secure snugly over the top of the car seat, parents also don’t have to worry about dragging or dropping a blanket while walking into daycare. They’re usually insulated, fleece-lined, and made of weather-resistant fabrics to keep wind and snow out when on the move. They almost all have a window that opens to expose the child’s face, often resembling one of those festive head-in-hole posters that you stand behind to look like a cow or Nemo or gunslinger from the Old West. Unfortunately, none of the covers make your kid look like a cowboy.
But which baby car seat cover is the best for keeping your newborn cozy this winter? We took a look at the current offerings on the market and, taking into account material, insulation, and ease of access, came up with our seven top contenders for different budgets and climates.
7 A.M. Car Seat Cocoon
Billed as a “puffy coat for your car seat,” the micro-fleece-lined Cocoon boasts an insulated wind-/ water-proof shell and has a temperature rating of -4 degrees Fahrenheit ⏤ so while a little pricier at $64, it’s clearly designed for the coldest of commutes. A central zipper provides easy in-and-out while two shoulder zippers allow for quick access to the baby’s head. The elastic base and contoured shape ensure it fits snugly on all car seats, and it comes in one of 12 colors, from Prussian Blue to Metallic Lilac. Best of all, though, it’s machine washable.
Skip Hop STROLL & GO Car Seat Cover
In addition to a plush fleece collar that snaps down to expose the baby’s face, or up to keep baby toasty, the cool feature on the Skip Hop is the roll-away top panel ⏤ simply unzip, roll, and snap to the side once the car warms up. The universal-fit cover stretches over any car seat, is wind-/water-proof, and comes in one of two colors ⏤ black or heather gray.
With 940 reviews and a near 5-star rating, the Cozy Cover wins the award for most popular cover on Amazon. And that’s likely because they’ve been selling them over 25 years and claim to be trusted “by over 5.5 million moms” ⏤ which, admittedly, is a lot of moms. The Cozy uses a shower-cap style elastic fitting to achieve a universal fit, has a velcro-attached, breathable pullover face flap, and dual front zippers for easy access. Cooler still, it comes in two shades of camouflage, among other colors.
JJ Cole Car Seat Cover
JJ Cole’s popular blanket-style seat cover is fleece-lined and made from a water-resistant quilted nylon. It features a 3/4-zip front door with a top flap that folds down in the car or over the baby’s face when you’re out in the cold ⏤ almost like a little serving window for your kid to order a bottle of milk. It comes in one of six colors, from ‘wine triangles’ to ‘sassy wave’, is machine washable, and can even stretch over standard-size strollers.
Jolly Jumper Arctic Sneak-A-Peek
The word ‘Arctic’ should give away the Jolly Jumper’s strongest selling point ⏤ it’s designed for the most frigid of temperatures. In addition to the padded, fleece-lined fabric, the Sneak-A-Peak differentiates itself with an attached blanket that’s sewn in to provide additional warmth. It offers two front diagonal zippers and a fold-over face flap and is machine washable.
Copper Pearl 5-in-1 Multi-Use Cover
More for privacy, shade, and sun/rain/snow protection than for overall warmth, Copper Pearl’s 5-in-1 is a lightweight, all-season cover that also works on shopping carts, high chairs, and as a nursing cover. It’s made of a stretchy, water-resistant rayon and pulls completely over the seat to offer 360-degree coverage ⏤ there’s a hole at the top to peek in. It also comes in a ridiculous number of colors, designs, and patterns.
Sho Cute All-Season Canopy Cover
Like the Copper Pearl, Sho Cute’s windproof 100-percent cotton canopy is more about overall coverage than strictly providing warmth. Also without added insulation, it’s naturally better suited for climates with more mild winters. That said, it’s windproof, has a peekaboo window, and comes with built-in fabric loops to hold toys inside, which is pretty nice. It’s also reversible so you get two covers in one.