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One thing that always bothered me about the car seat industry is how big of a push car seat brands make about car seat safety, but only a few toy brands push the safety of their toys for car seats.
I wish there were more awareness overall about using toys in a car seat and teaching parents how to make sure a toy is safe in a car seat. While we’re focused on the road and all of the possible hazards as we’re driving, not many parents think about how the most dangerous thing for their baby is in their car seat with them.
But how do you know which toys are safe to leave with your baby in their car seat?
This was a topic I became incredibly passionate about after my son was diagnosed with a severe bleeding disorder. I spent hours researching all the different types of car seat toys available online, which ones were safe, and what exactly made unsafe car seat toys dangerous.
After spending hours researching the safety of toys for car seats, I realized there was limited information to educate other parents. My goal today is to give you a closer look at car seat toy safety and the best toy recommendations out there.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a Safe Car Seat Toy?
- 2 What Makes a Car Seat Toy Unsafe?
- 3 How I Chose These Car Seat Toys
- 4 For Infants
- 5 Taf Toys Kick and Play Activity Center
- 6 Tiny Love Meadow Days Sunny Stroll Stroller Arch
- 7 Innofans Baby Jungle Sensory Mat
- 8 For Toddlers
- 9 Buckle Toys Buster Square
- 10 Guolely Busy Board Montessori Toys for Toddlers
- 11 Blu Whale Buckle Toys
- 12 For Big Kids
- 13 Taf Toys Car Wheel Toy
- 14 Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt
- 15 WikkiStik Fidget Toy
- 16 FAQs
- 17 Discovering the Best Car Seat Toys for Your Kiddos
What Is a Safe Car Seat Toy?
There are a few rules you should follow when you’re looking through trying to find safe car seat toys. Here are a few pieces of advice I’d recommend:
Car Seat Play Only
As you’re looking around for car seat toys, you should only look at car seat toys that are only supposed to be used in a car seat. Some toys have been specifically designed to be used in a car seat, and they typically come with a secure attachment mechanism.
Keep in mind that as you’re shopping around, there may be some car seat toys that don’t fit with the model of car seat your little one has.
As you install the toy in the car seat, follow the instructions listed by the manufacturer as you attach the toy to the car seat. Typically, you’ll attach the toy with clips or a strap. Avoid using any toy with strings, as this poses a choking hazard.
No Small Parts
With a car seat toy, you want to ensure that there aren’t any tiny parts your baby could choke on. I always love to give the toy a good tug and roughhousing before I feel comfortable putting the toy in with my baby.
This way, I can ensure there aren’t any breakable parts or possible choking hazards to worry about while I’m on the road with my baby.
What Makes a Car Seat Toy Unsafe?
Sure, some toys out there look pretty cool and may provide your baby with a lot of entertainment when you’re out on a long road trip.
However, some of the risks these more entertaining toys pose may not be the best option to keep your babe safe and worry-free while on the road. Several things can make a toy unsafe for a car seat.
First, you must ensure the toy has something that can attach to the car seat. If there isn’t anything that allows the toy to be attached to the car seat, it makes it unsafe. This rule is put in place by car seat manufacturers, and it has something to do with the possible projectile risk associated with these toys.
Nobody ever wants to get into a car accident, especially if they have their baby in the car. However, if you don’t ensure a proper attachment of the toy to the car seat, it poses a projectile risk.
This makes the car seat toy incredibly dangerous because any heavy or hard toys can pose an increased injury risk for your little one if you are in an accident. The toy that you leave with your child in the car should be soft to eliminate the risk of danger completely.
You should also ensure that there aren’t any small parts that your child can choke on. If there are parts of the toy that are small or there are a lot of parts that could possibly get lost during travel, it poses a distraction risk for you and your child. You want to make sure that there aren’t any small parts to get lost or choked on.
I’ll be honest; I didn’t even know strings weren’t recommended for toys until I saw one of those mortician TikTok videos. I’ve now thrown away all of the toys that I previously had that had strings or cords attached to them. This goes for car seat toys, too; never allow your child to play with any cord or string toy.
How I Chose These Car Seat Toys
As I was going through and picking out my all-time favorite car seat toys, there were a few pieces of selection criteria I kept in the back of my head as I was picking out options.
I chose these car sear toys based on all of the safety tips I’ve listed above and my personal experience with each toy.
I love this activity center because it is attached to the back of the headrest, not the carrying handle for an infant car seat. I hate having toys that attach to the carrying handle because they get in my way when I’m trying to carry my son around. Annoying? Absolutely.
That’s why I love this one so much. It’s out of my way, and I love looking back to see my son tugging away at this activity center.
Plus, there are so many different things for him to feel and play with, so it keeps him entertained with no problem. The Taf Toys Kick and Play Activity Center is a baby gym designed to encourage sensory and motor development in infants.
I love the variety offered on here, like a teether, a soft plush giraffe, a teether, and fun muscle balls (which were my son’s favorite).
There’s plenty about this gym that’s stimulating without it being overstimulating. It was super easy to install, too, so I’m able to quickly switch it in and out of cars without spending much time.
I would say this is really only best for infants up until they turn 12 to 13 months because, after that, I do feel like babies are getting a little too strong for this mat, too, withstand. My son loves to pull everything, and because he’s so strong as a toddler, he was able to pull this mat off of the back of the headrest.
I love this stroller arch because of how easy it is to snap on and off a car seat handle. I really don’t like the Horsey toys that you have to wrap around the entire handle to safely attach to the car seat.
This one just snapped on and off, so I’m able to quickly take it off when I need to get my son out of the car. I also love this because it’s been a great toy to have for when I’m taking my son on a walk; I don’t have to worry about remembering to bring an additional toy or arch when I’m ready to switch him to his stroller.
I love all of the different colors on this stroller arch, as this definitely kept my son entertained when he was much younger for a good chunk of time without him even trying to play with the toys.
I would even sometimes nervous fidget with some of the toys on here while we were waiting in the doctor’s office. My favorite toy to fidget with was the spinning flower. My son’s favorite part about the stroller arch was the rattling butterfly ball.
I do love the durability of the stroller arch too. I did end up dropping it a couple of times and was concerned that it was going to break pretty easily. However, it still hasn’t broken, and nothing has fallen off, so I’m happy with how durable and well-made this stroller arch is.
I love how much variety is offered with this mat! I think that this toy gives you the best of both worlds; this mat provides sensory activities for your little ones’ feet while also providing the hanging arch a lot of car seat toys come with. What I really love about this mat is that it’s double-sided, Which makes it appropriate for infants of all ages.
I think the newborn side, with the high contrast black and white pattern, makes it much more appropriate for newborns. The other side, featuring animals and more colors, is great for babies six months and up.
Plus, there are a lot of other fun toys that you get with the arch too. I love the sun mirror; it’s one of my favorite toys on this mat. I do love how all of the toys can be clipped on or off, so you can kind of customize the setup or take your little one’s favorite toy with you when you get out of the car.
As my son got older, I realized that the infant toys that I previously bought him in the car seat weren’t keeping him entertained for very long.
That’s why I decided to move on and find some toys for bigger kids. The Buster Square doesn’t look like it’s going to do much to keep your toddler entertained, but I have to say, this is the toy that kept my son entertained for the longest.
I love that I don’t just have to keep it in the car seat either; I take this in when we go grocery shopping, to doctor’s appointments, or if we have to go stand in line somewhere for a little bit.
A couple of weeks after my son started playing with this toy more regularly, I definitely noticed a big difference in his dexterity and the development of his fine motor skills.
There are buckles and fasteners on this toy, and the whole point of the toy is to get your child to fasten the buckles and snaps. I do like that there are a variety of colors without it being overwhelmingly colorful, as I do feel like that would keep my son distracted from the main point of the toy.
Even though my son shoes on this, drop it on the floor, shakes it, and has tried to rip it apart, but hasn’t been anything that has happened to this toy.
While it is made entirely of fabric, I was still worried about stitches getting pulled out and the straps getting ripped off. However, that wasn’t what happened! This is a great option for any Montessori mom if you want to avoid any toys with a battery at all costs!
This is my favorite toy ever! I don’t know if you have the budget for two toys, but if you do, you have to get this too! I love this toy because there are *so* many fidget toys in this book. This is one toy that I’ll sneak play with while my son is fidgeting around with it.
I love this toy, too, because it isn’t just a bunch of random fidget toys; there are a lot of opportunities for my son to learn, like animal-shaped letters.
I can teach my son letters, spelling, and the names of different animals thanks to this toy. plus, there’s a clock with months, weeks, and dates on one of the boards, which presents a whole bunch of different opportunities for my son to learn.
I know what I said about strings not being safe, and I still completely agree with that statement. That’s why I’ve taken the strings out of this fidget board (there are two sets of shoelaces).
To make it safe for when my son is on a car ride. I will install the strings back into the board when I’m able to keep a better watch on him, but for now, I’m only keeping this board as a car seat toy.
My favorite part about this toy is how I can zip the entire binder up and easily transport it. I don’t even have to worry about transporting it sometimes because the handle on the binder allows my son to easily carry (or drag) this board around!
What better combination could you have than a cuddly blue whale that’s great for color recognition and the development of fine motor skills?
While this car seat-safe plush gives you all that and more! On the side of this whale, you’ll find shapes and numbers, all in different colors.
Plus, you have buckles that will allow your little one to figure out unbuckling and refine their motor skills. There are a bunch of different colors on this wheel, allowing your little one to work on color recognition too.
I love that the mouth of the whale opens up with a zipper. Overall, I love how soft this blue whale is, too, as he makes a great pillow for when your toddler is sleepy and wants to rest their head on something soft for nap time.
For Big Kids
This car wheel toy is great for kids that are forward-facing, but I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with it for rear-facing children, either.
I think that this would be a good option for babies around 12 months and up simply because of the size of this toy. There is a steering wheel with lights and sounds, as well as a variety of knobs and buttons for your kiddo to mess around with.
I Love the clips featured on this toy because it’s made it easy for me to transport in between cars and even attached to strollers.
I love the texture on the steering wheel, as that adds additional sensory play to this car seat toy. I do wish there was a way for the toy to be attached towards the bottom, close to the steering wheel, for kids who want to pick the mat up.
However, I do love the mirror that’s on top of this toy, as I’ve had a lot of fun watching my son’s facial expressions in my rearview mirror.
I will admit that I didn’t know that this toy had noise when I first purchased it, so the car horn noise on this toy scared me at first. It still takes me a little while to get used to it when I switch out car seat toys for my son, so I just want to put that in there as a warning for any unsuspecting parent.
This is such an amazing toy that’s great for full family interaction. I’m excited for my son to grow up a little bit more and be able to read the cards to my husband and me, but for now, I will read the cards to my son, and he’ll help me find what the cards read.
The idea behind this toy is pretty simple. You have a bunch of cards that highlight different items for you and your little one to look for while you’re out on the road. There are things listed on the cards, like a restaurant, a yellow house, a motorcycle, bicycles, and more.
I think that this is a great toy for anyone who is looking for an interactive option for their Forward facing child that’ll help to beat boredom on long road trips for the entire family. Plus, this is one of the most budget-friendly options, especially because you only have to buy one package of cards to entertain multiple children.
These are great fidget toys for older children. Basically, they’re waxed yarn that your child can fold, shape, and twist into different sculptures or shapes to have a fun and safe way to channel they’re in creativity while you’re out on the road.
I love how your child can choose from various colors, and there’s enough in one package for your family to share, even if you have several children.
What I recently learned about these sticks, too, is that you can peel and stick them to paper. I don’t know if you ever played with these when you were growing up, but I was shocked when I found out you could stick them onto other surfaces (like the car seat in front of the window beside your kiddo) to make a whole landscape of art.
This is a super cheap toy, ringing in at under $10 so even if it gets lost or a few pieces getting this place, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to replace. There’s no mess, and it’s a great screen-free activity.
Question: How do I attach a car seat toy safely?
Answer: Attaching a car seat to safety is important to ensure that you don’t have to worry about any safety risks while you’re out on the road with your child. You should attach the toy securely to the top of the car seat according to the instructions listed by the car seat manufacturer.
Question: How often should I clean my child’s car seat toys?
Answer: Cleaning your child’s car seat toys regularly is important to prevent the buildup of bacteria and germs. How often you clean the toy really depends on the material used. I would recommend washing soft toys at least once a month. However, I would recommend wiping down hard toys every few weeks.
Question: How can I be sure a car seat toy is age-appropriate for my child?
Answer: Most car seat toys will have a recommended age range listed on the packaging or in the product description. As you’re shopping around for a toy, I would also recommend you consider the features of the toy, such as its size, shape, and complexity.
If you’re shopping for an infant or toddler, you should choose toys that are soft, lightweight, and easy to grasp. However, if you have an older kiddo, you’re shopping around for; you should choose toys that are more complex and offer greater stimulation.
And just because I like to be extra safe, I would also recommend you; look for car seat toys that have been certified by a reputable safety organization, like the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Discovering the Best Car Seat Toys for Your Kiddos
There are a lot of great safe car seat toys out there, but the ones I’ve listed above are my all-time favorites. I always recommend these toys to any parent that reaches out to me asking about toys that are safe to leave with their little ones in a car seat. I think that out of all of these, I would highly recommend the scavenger hunt and the fidget board for toddlers and older children.
A car seat toy isn’t necessary for an infant because I know a lot of infants tend to fall asleep on car rides. However, if your kiddo happens to be the opposite and does not fall asleep during car rides, a teether toy or the activity mat I’ve listed above are safe and entertaining options.