Unitasker Wednesday: Car Seat Canopy

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I’ve never sat in a new product brainstorming session at a baby supply manufacturing company, but my guess is the meeting for the Car Seat Canopy went something like this:

Idea Staffer: “I’ve got it! Let’s make a baby blanket but call it something else. It will be like a baby blanket in every way, but have a different name.”

Boss: “I like it! New parents are idiots! They’ll buy anything, even unsafe things.”

Idea Staffer: “Exactly! Bwahahahahahahaha!

Boss: [Rolls fingers together, joins in with Idea Staffer’s maniacal laugh.]

First things first, it is NEVER okay to put a blanket over an infant’s car seat. Even if the blanket has two straps to attach it to the carrier handle, it is not safe. Don’t ever do this. You are putting your child at risk of suffocation because half the blanket can still fall down on your kid AND you can’t see your child to know if he or she is choking, vomiting, overheating, not breathing, etc. A blanket over a car seat is very dangerous. Don’t do it.

Second, car seat carriers have canopies built into them. I have a car seat carrier sitting inches from me right now and, yep, it has a canopy! And, these canopies don’t put your baby at risk of death if you use them. They keep sun and wind out of your kid’s face, plus allow you to see your kid safely.

Third, this thing is $30 for a baby blanket. If you want to put your child’s life at risk and do something as poorly conceived as put a blanket over the seat carrier, any blanket will do. All blankets keep you from being able to see your child equally. It’s a lose-lose situation — no need to spend $30 to jeopardize your kid’s life.

Finally, if you want to protect your baby from the elements, try the following ideas:

  1. Don’t take your kid outdoors when the weather is horrible.
  2. If it’s sunny, use the built-in canopy or put your child in a body carrier and put a hat on your kid.
  3. If it’s cold, use a safe cover that allows you to see your child’s face, so you can see if your kid is in trouble.

Thanks to reader Hillary for bringing this totally unsafe unitasker to our attention.

15 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Car Seat Canopy”

  1. posted by Shaunna on

    I don’t know about the NEVER use a blanket. If you have to go out and it is -40, you can bet there will be a blanket up and over my kid. Though we always stuck it over the canopy and then the kid. You just CAN’T expose your kid to those kind of temperatures without covering them. You just have to check on them every little bit to make sure they are fine.

    Also, up here in the cold, once the are about 6 months, there is generally no problem sticking a scarf over the kids face – not just mouth and nose, but the entire face. When you need to do that, you pull down the scarf enough to make sure babies eyes are moving.

    I have done that, and would do it again. It is so much better than frostbite.

  2. posted by Stephen on

    Do we have a source on how unsafe this is?

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Stephen — Blankets are a leading cause of infant suffocation. Please learn more:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics:

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Shaunna — In cold weather, it is recommended to use a cover that has an open area for your child’s face, such as the one mentioned above in the article: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....tterer-20/

    An infant who is strapped into a carrier — even an infant who can hold up his/her head — has extremely limited mobility and cannot remove the blanket from his/her face if the blanket accidentally covers the child’s head. It is always best to be safe and not put anything over a child’s face until age one.

  5. posted by Stephen on

    Those are both great references, but neither refers to any case where a blanket over an infant in a car seat has caused a death by suffocation.

    I can see where you might extrapolate that from the literature, but when I asked for sources I expected an actual source that supported your claim that someone NEVER place a blanket over a car seat of an infant.

    Your claims seem very authoritative and bold, but I don’t think the science actually supports them. I’d be careful claiming a product is a death trap if you can’t back up that claim.

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Stephen — Hey, if you read the APA and CPSC documents and didn’t think for one second that putting loose fabric near an infant’s face was a really bad idea, I don’t think I can change your mind on that at all. See, I’m the type of person who when she reads evidence that blankets near an infant’s face is dangerous, I then apply that information to all situations where a blanket can be near an infant’s face. Blankets are bad near an infant’s face in bed and in the stroller and in the carseat and, etc. As far as I know, blankets aren’t really aware of their locations. They don’t know that they aren’t supposed to suffocate a child in one situation and not the other. I guess I’m a generalist and you’re a specialist. So, we’ll just have to disagree on this one as I truly doubt I’ll change your mind, and you certainly won’t change my mind on this matter.

  7. posted by amy on

    I have one of those. I got it free right after I had my child. I loved it. It didn’t drop down over my child’s face, that’s the point. Parents have been doing this with blankets forever. I know mine did. Even if you use a regular blanket, if you’re paying attention and it’s only to get from the house to the car without your kid getting frostbite, I don’t see an issue. Kind of reminds me of a baby bathtub recall awhile back. It got recalled to install a safety strap even though it said on the seat DO NOT LIFT SEAT WITH CHILD IN IT. Seriously people, common sense.

  8. posted by Celeste on

    Sometimes you are bringing your child to and fro and the weather changes and you need to figure something out. Besides, I can’t even think of a time when my child would be in a car seat without me right there with her.

  9. posted by Aleisha on

    Does there always have to be someone who gets all serious and disputes the silliness of the unitasker? Sheesh. It’s supposed to be a light-hearted weekly post people

  10. posted by Carol on

    I see your point in the being a great waste of money. I think your opinion about using the baby carrier that is shown in the link (it being able to be used as a forward facing baby carrier) invalidates your concern for safety of the child. Here is information about the dangers of forward facing carriers. http://www.bobafamily.com/2011.....acing-out/

  11. posted by momof3 on

    back 20 ish years ago when I had my first, this type of car seat wasn’t portable…

    and a receiving BLANKET worked just fine to keep baby warm in what ever carrier I had.

    Personally, I LOVED my sling: both hands were free when walking and able to slide it around and nurse baby when sitting…YES, i may have woken babies to take them out of car seats to go anywhere, but they would fall asleep again when in the sling…

    OH HOW I MISS THOSE DAYS—two in college, one in high school…..

  12. posted by Liz P on

    The only time I can think of (for me) that this would be useful would be to cover the car seat, while it is in the car, without a child in it, to protect it from the sun and stop the buckles getting to burn-the-skin hot. Which they do here, in Australia. But no need for a $30 specialist blanket, just use a sheet or a towel or a bunny rug.

    And draping a blanket over the car seat to carry it from the house to the car in frightfully cold weather (say 1 min?), your child can’t suffocate. It’s leaving the blanket there that is the problem.

  13. posted by Amanda on

    Actually, the nurses at our hospital highly recommend this and a few other carseat covers as safe. There are appropriate uses if all instructions are followed – such as only using when the car seat handle and canopy are both up to avoid any issues where the fabric falls over the baby’s face. I don’t know where that graphic came from, but this product does NOT have that much fabric overlapping my carseat – barely enough to graze my son’s feet, and maybe a few inches over the canopy on the other side. They make wonderful blankets for tummy time, and since it is already attached to the carseat, you won’t leave it home. It also protects my little one from the sun much better than any of the sunshades I’ve found for my car.

    As with most any other object we can buy for our kids, there are people who will correctly use and others who will misuse (no matter how many warnings to the contrary) them.

  14. posted by Amanda on

    I will note that I do not leave the cover all the way down, I do flip up a corner or side edge to allow for air flow.

  15. posted by Margaret on

    Count me on the OF COURSE sometimes you have to cover your baby. How ridiculous to say “NEVER” because that just makes people tune out. The only risk my children had of suffocating from a blanket over their carseat would have been if I had been knocked unconscious while carrying them between building and vehicle, and in that case, they would have frozen to death anyway. It’s like saying you cannot use a blanket to play peekaboo with a baby — sure, some totally freak course events could occur, but if you try to guard against that, then you literally cannot do ANYTHING, because a freak accident could happen anywhere.

    That being said, it never occurred to me to leave a baby completely covered once in the vehicle. Get them in out of the cold/wind, then tuck them up as necessary.

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