The evolution of American car seats

Here is a great blog from I Am Not The Babysitter

Have you ever wondered how car seats have evolved over time? “Our parents didn’t use car seats” pops up in just about every discussion on car seats. Surprisingly, car seats actually date back to the 1930s


The first car seat was made in 1933, from a burlap sack, and hung over the headrest of the seat. It was made by the Bunny Bear Company. This one is currently up for grabs on ebay. These were not made for safety reasons, just for the convenience of keeping baby contained while driving.

Photo courtesy of ebay

Photo courtesy of ebay



In the 1940’s, an early form of a booster showed up on the market. The goal of this seat was just to boost a child up so they could see out the window. We still haven’t reach a point of safety in these seats.

Photo Courtesy of Getty

Photo Courtesy of Getty



This is the year the idea of adding safety to child seats first reached the market. Two different models were created that used the seat belt to attach the seats. One even had a Y-shaped strap, similar to what we still see used today.




This is when the competitive nature of business took over and car seats really started evolving, with safety in mind. Ford came out with the “Tot-Guard”, which was a plastic chair that included padding to cushion the child’s face upon impact.

Photo courtesy of Country Living

Photo courtesy of Country Living



The improvements made to this point took a step backward with this one. The “Steel Travel Platform”, from Sears, was created as a play-mat for cars.

Photo courtsey Gray Flannel Suit

Photo courtesy of Gray Flannel Suit



General Motors followed Ford’s lead with their Love Seats. This was the first time we saw two separate seats, one for infants and one for children. Both seats used seat belts to secure them, but the infant seat rear faced. A big selling feature was that they were lightweight and portable.

Photo courtesy of Country Living

Photo courtesy of Country Living



Safety regulations began to show up in 1971. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration implemented regulations stating that all seats must be held by safety belts, and include a harness to hold the child in place.

Photo courtesy of Country Living

Photo courtesy of Country Living



In 1985, the first safety laws were passed in regards to child passengers. For the first time, children under a certain age were required to be in a car seat.

Photo courtesy of Country Living

Photo courtesy of Country Living



10 years later the LATCH system was introduced. This consists of the lower anchors (which are optionally used in place of seat belt, for installation purposes) and the top tether anchors, that improve the stability of the seat in the event of an accident.

Photo courtesy of Country Living

Photo courtesy of Country Living



In September of 2002, it became mandatory for all vehicles to be outfitted with lower anchor points, as well as tether points. Vehicles made prior to 2000 can often be retrofit with the equipment.



Today, we have regulations in every state that set minimum requirements for each age, weight and size of a child; seats must pass crash testings; and they come with expiry dates. We have seats that go above and beyond those minimums and we have so many options that choosing a seat often involves more research than a Master’s thesis.

Photo courtesy of Car Seat Blog
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