The History Of Car Seats: Interesting Facts

We know about the challenges that parents today face when making decisions about what to buy for their children.  With hundreds of car seats on the market, it is very hard to know what to choose.

While it is hard to choose, today we are going to share with you the history of car seats and it will truly brighten up your day when you read and see more about where car seats started and how far they have come.

The First Vehicle

When you think about the long way car seats have come in the past century, you cannot believe how fast things can evolve.  The first gas-powered car was made back in 1885 (see image), which is just over 130 years ago.  It has not been that long and where are we today?  Automobiles have become accessible for even the poorest in many cases.

first gas powered automobile

Back in those days, there was no need for a car seat, because vehicles were still not available for the majority of the population.  Mostly businessmen or politicians could afford rides on these fancy vehicles.

However, it did not take long for the automobile industry to become more and more sophisticated and they were putting out new vehicles every year.  As time passed, they became part of daily life.  It was around the year 1930 that cars became more like we know today.  They changed from carriage-looking vehicles into cars.

First Attempt Of Car Seats

It was until then that children started to ride more and more, hence the need for car seats.

The need for car seats escalated because it is tough to keep children still on the road.  They will start to jump over the seats and play as if it was their school’s playground.

People soon found out that they needed something else to keep their children sitting still.  Safety was not so much the issue, it was more of keeping kids restrained when on the road.  Distraction on the road is a real problem when you don’t have your kids in a car seat.  And people knew that.

the history of car seats

In the image, can you find out why children would distract the driver?  If you sit in the back seat of the car, there is hardly anything you can see.  So, children will start to stand up, roll over when the car is braking, lean over, and try to see everything.  The need for something to keep children without distracting all the time was great.

History tells us that in the early 1930s car seat companies were established that started to sell many of the first car seats.  Although they did not make the ride for the baby and child any safer, it had some benefits.  Parents were finally able to restrain the kids into the seat and not having them play around.  Secondly, the car seats were more like booster seats because the children were able to look out the windows (see image below).

the history of car seats

Since vehicles were lacking seat belts, there was no place to fasten the booster seat.  It was kind of hook that attached behind the seat.  That made life for parents much easier than it had been up to that moment.

It was also not uncommon to make your own car seats like high chairs with armrests.  So what people basically did, they took a chair from the house, shortened the legs and tied them to the seat so the child would enjoy the ride more by being able to look out the window.

The 1960s

After thirty years, safety was still a process.  People did not understand that children needed a car seat not only to be able to see out the window or to be restrained, but that it was far more important that they were safe in the case of an accident.

Although car seats were slowly improving, fatalities were on the rise.

The Ford Company made and sold a model car seat (see image below) that would improve safety because it would literally catch the child’s face in the case of a collision.  That made things already go in the direction where national safety standards started to rise.

tot guard from ford

By this time, cars already had seat belts, because awareness was created about fatalities that were happening because of people not fastened somehow to the seat of the vehicle.

Nevertheless, we can clearly see how safety was a process because it was in 1969 that the steel travel platform was still advertised.  It was a platform that you could place in the back of the car for children to play, sleep, and eat while on the road.

During this time, it was not uncommon to have a harness strap belted to the seat, into which the child was seated.  But it was a movable one.  The child could stand up, lay down, kneel, or whatever position it wanted.  It only could not get out of the harness and the seat.  So, it was basically a form to keep a child in the back seat of the car.  And these harness straps could be bought for a cheap price.

Boy, that is what we did when we were still children.  We would sit on the back of pickup trucks and ride to our grandparents who lived a good hour of driving from our house.  On the way back we would sleep back there, and on the way there, our parents had to constantly yell that we better sit down.

So, people did not fully understand how important it was that children were securely fastened while on the road.

That explains the high number of fatalities every single year of children under the age of 13.

The 1970s and New Laws

Children’s safety in the car was brought to attention and the NHTSA started issuing regulations for car seats and regulations for children on the road.

However, it was not until the mid-1980s that car seat laws started to be enforced and things took a turn.  New laws required all children of specific age groups to be in car seats.

In these early years of new regulations, no crash testing was implemented.  It was just asked that children sit in car seats while on the road, and there were some regulations as to how car seats had to be made.

Companies finally started shifting from car seats that were merely a necessity to car seats for safety.

The 1990s Through Today

Thanks to stricter rules and regulations, car seat safety improved drastically in the next decades.

Every single year, new car seat regulations came out and companies were required to eventually test all their products before they could be released into the market.

It was in the early 1990s that car seats started to be upholstered so they would offer more protection for the child, thus being more comfortable.

Also, in the 1990s the LATCH system was developed, which stands for Lower Anchors And Tethers for Children), which consists of hooks that attach to the vehicle seat which makes installation of car seats easier, but safer because they are anchored.

Since 2003, all vehicles are required to have the LATCH system in place.

And today, with regulations getting stricter every year, we arrived at regulations like the ones in the image.

Child safety seat

With such a long history, no wonder we have excellent choices when it comes to car seats:  From infant car seats to convertible car seats to booster seats to all kinds of great accessories to make the road trips not only more enjoyable and pleasant but as safe as possible.

You will find quality car seats of all price ranges and different kinds of materials, all having different features for convenience or safety.  That is why we see how fatalities decreased very much in the past 4 decades and we can expect it to lower even more.

Today’s car seats all have one thing in common: They are regulated and pass crash testing before they get into your hands.  That is so different from what we see 100 years ago.


Car seats are safer than they were at any time in history.  No company can put a car seat into the market without passing regulations and testing.

That gives us parents the peace of mind which we need on the road.  We need to know that our children are tucked into car seats that will be as safe as possible and protect our children in the event of a collision.

We can be thankful that nowadays we do not have such basic car seats that don’t do more than keep our children restrained.

Today, car seats not only let your child look out the window and restrain them, it makes for a safe place to ride in.

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4 thoughts on “The History Of Car Seats: Interesting Facts

  1. Peace

    Car seats are not very popular in Nigeria, in fact it is rarely used by Nigerians. And that’s largely because of a lack of imposition of a law in that regard, to parents.

    But I see alot of sense in the need for a car seat. Because, everytime I ride with a child, I notice they are always standing, asking questions and distracting their parents, sometimes they even try to squeeze their way to the front, and that can be very detrimental. 

    Nigerians aren’t huge fans of car seats, and I think we should be. 

    1. Oscar Post author


      that is the same in the country I live in.  Kids are always peeking out the windows, standing in the cars, etc.  Although their are car seat laws, they are not enforced.  

      The history of car seats should show us the importance of using car seats all the time.  As parents, we are responsible for the safety of our children, and if we see that they are not safe, we should not wait until the laws are enforced.

      Thanks for sharing about your country’s car seat laws,


  2. Hbee

    That is actually pretty interesting, I wasn’t aware of how car seats had revolutionised over time, it’s amazing to see what we now can produce with new tech, I really like how you went in-depth and spoke about the past car, not many people are aware of this- so this is a great way of teaching others.

    1. Oscar Post author

      Thank you for stopping by and giving me feedback on this article.  I am glad you found this informative.  Please do not hesitate to share with family and friends and don’t forget to come back and read more interesting articles all around car seats.



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