Protection for bucket passenger seat of car
September 3, 2016 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for (older) child-proof protection for the back of my car's passenger seat. What would work?

My older child, who has special needs, kicks and attempts to destroy the bucket seat on the passenger side of my car. (For my safety, my child can't be moved to the other side of the car.) I've got the passenger seat as far forward as it can go.

It's part sensory need - to kick - and part attempt at "payback". Child is receiving all sorts of interventions and therapies - no need to make suggestions there. None of those things will resolve immediately. What I need is a practical way to safeguard the back of my passenger seat, without the child being easily able to remove the kick mat. This will have the added benefit of not causing me a scare while driving and help me respond empathically and calmly. (The long-term, ongoing destruction of my personal property is really upsetting.)

I currently have a Britax kick mat. But my child undoes the Velcro and unhooks the straps, which can be hazardous to me as a driver with the car in motion, whether as a distraction or as an attempt to hit me.

My child wants to rip and destroy the back of the car seat or, at the very least, push and kick hard on the seat.

Is there something that would be very difficult for my child to remove? This is not a little kid, but a bright, strong kid who can reach the back of the seat with feet and hands, even with the passenger seat pushed forward. I rarely have a passenger in the front seat.

Please PM if the make/model of the car is important.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Does the Britax mat otherwise work? If so I'd take a needle and thread and sew a few stitches into the velcro closures.

Otherwise a car upholstery shop could sew you up a sleeve to fit over your seat back (kind of like a fitted bag). It would be installed with hog rings so pretty well impervious to non tool removal. And they have a large range of materials to choose from including fabrics that would match your current seats. So you could have a heavy padded vinyl on the back and a matching fabric on the front. They can also sandwich a fiberboard material into the back section that would be puncture resistant. This kind of work is pretty cheap; I had a 6'x8' tent trailer travel cover custom made with a couple dozen snaps for a ~$300.
posted by Mitheral at 10:07 AM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This brought back the memory of my brother going through a kicking phase. My parents duct -taped a piece of carpeting to the back of the passenger seat.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 10:16 AM on September 3, 2016

Mitheral's suggestion is sounding like it would have the toughness I need. My child would definitely just rip through the velcro and the ties otherwise. Carpet would be pulled off.

If there is a non-custom answer to this, too, I'm all ears.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:26 AM on September 3, 2016

Make sure that the passenger seat doesn't have any airbags built in before covering it!
posted by monotreme at 10:49 AM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Carpet wrapped with duct tape around the seat back would not be removable. Wrapping duct tape around the seat back would damage the upholstery, though. Here's my solution.

They make stretchy seat covers, some are cheap. Get one nice one that matches your current upholstery, and a cheaper one. These usually come in sets, so you can just buy a set, too, just know one of them is going to get duct taped and will need to be removed from the bucketseat with scissors once this phase passes....

Put one seat cover over your seat back. Secure a carpet/fiberboard or re-use the britax protector and duct tape by winding the tape fully around the seat back top-middle-bottom. That will never come off without scissors, like I said.

Put the fancier new stretchy seat back cover over the protective layer. Done.

The true seat is protected from the duct tape adhesive, the protective layer is indestructible, there's a pretty cover over the top of all....

These stretchy seat covers go all the way underneath the seat. If you buy a fancy set of covers and the first one gets torn off, you can leave it uncovered for the duration, or try covering it with the reserve cover...

If the situation is really dire, just use it without the second seat back cover masking all the protective hardware underneath.

Hope that helps!
posted by jbenben at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Can you/the dealership remove the front passenger seat temporarily? Could you buy a beater minivan (late 90s Sienna or Odyssey could be both cheap and reliable) and seat your child in the far back bench?

So sorry you're dealing with this!
posted by Wavelet at 2:18 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd get some foam and tuck that under a stretchy or secure seat protector. Get some thick (maybe waxed) thread and an embroidery needle and secure anything that would otherwise be undone (hooks, Velcro). That way you can cut it off when you want but they can't take it apart. You can get a foam pad at fabric stores or camping supply. If the mat you're currently using works, then stitch it closed with thick thread. Look for stuff you'd use on leather and the like.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:07 PM on September 3, 2016

You said you have the seat all the way forward, but have you flipped the seat-back forward too? Otherwise, Mitheral's suggestion is great and easily removable. I'd be afraid that the duct tape adhesive would ooze through a seat cover and damage the seat, but then I live in Florida where anything inside a car is subjected to extreme temps.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:05 PM on September 3, 2016

Thanks. I'm going to ask my dealership if any of these ideas would be okay, because there is an air bag tag on the seat and I'm worried about interfering with it. I am not sure why there would be an airbag on the side of the seat, but I'm not messing around.

I like the idea of the stretchy seat back cover, reinforced with foam. I am going to see if something like that could work.

I think duct tape is a poor choice because my child would peel it off. Buying another car would be cost-prohibitive, but, if this is still going on in a few years, I think it may be the only option.

I thought about flipping the front seat forward, but this gives the child easier access to climb into the front and jump on things.

Yeah, it's really fun at my house.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 5:03 PM on September 3, 2016

Looking at this from another angle, consider how your child is seated/restrained in the car. Likely you won't solve the kicking problem, but if your child is a safety hazard in the car, an occupational therapist with vehicle seating experience may be able to decrease what they can reach to damage/pull at.

Depending on what country you are located in, will dictate what products are legal/approved. Sometimes you can get a waiver from the local ministry of transport if something is used in ADDITION to regular seatbelts too.

Something like an EZON Vestmay improve the situation.

Otherwise, I'd Nth the suggestion about a custom made seat cover, with advice from the car manufacturer about not interfering with any in seat air bags. A car upholstery, or even a 'heavy duty' sewing place (our local awning/sail store) does custom work like this. Even a handy sewing friend, with a heavy duty sewing machine might be able to help.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 5:18 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

In reply to why there's a tag (and airbag) on your seat, it is for a side impact air bag, see this image.

Because all airbags tend to deploy with an incredible amount of force, you should see if this can be disabled (usually unplug-able, though I would guess the dealership might tell you they're "not allowed" to do this). If you are working with a car upholstery shop, they will also be able to assist in this regard.
posted by jgreco at 6:08 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been in Ubers where the driver had a basketball jersey over the seat, presumably to make it easier to clean and/or protect the upholstery. Something like that would be harder to remove and might be cut in a way that doesn't interfere with the airbags.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:48 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

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