Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stroller/Car Seat Cooling Pad tutorial

Stroller/Car Seat Cooling Pad Tutorial

This tutorial is for a cooler pad that is meant to go behind your child’s back while they are in the stroller. It cools by evaporation and will last quite awhile. It is reusable and all you need to do is soak it in water to activate it again.
Update: It can also be used to lay over the buckles of the car seat while the car is parked. It will keep the buckles nice and cool for baby when you get back. You can leave it in your car for quite a few days and just throw it in the seat when you need it. Just soak it again when it needs to be rehydrated. Do not use this while the car is in motion!  These are now available in my Etsy shop if you don't feel like making one yourself.   They are made to order so I can accommodate color choices.  Here is the link:

(2) 11” x 16” rectangles of fabric
(1) 11” x 16” rectangle of fleece. Any color. This is for stability and won’t show.
1 pkg Wide Single Fold Bias tape (optional)
Sewing machine
Measuring Tape
“Soil Moist” granules for indoor plants or similar water absorbing crystals. I found mine in the garden section at the local department store.

Step 1:
Cut out your rectangles of fabric and fleece. Each needs to be 11” x 16”. Layer the rectangles in a pile with the fleece on the bottom. One rectangle right side up, then on the top put the last rectangle right side down.

Step 2:
Pin fabric in place on 3 sides, leaving one long side open. Sew around the 3 sides with a ½” seam allowance being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seams. Trim your edges to ¼” away from the line of stitching. Turn your rectangle inside out.

Step 3: (Optional shoulder strap holes)
If you want to make openings for the shoulder straps to go through the pad, lay the pad in your stroller and measure where the shoulder strap openings need to be. You’ll be measuring the distance from the top of the pad and from the side of the pad. I opted to have the pad stick up 2 ½” inches above the top of my shoulder straps. Mark your fabric (you can see my markings in red pencil) and use the buttonhole feature on your sewing machine to make the openings.

Step 4:
Binding: Now you’ll be making the channels to hold the crystals. You’ll basically be sewing lines horizontally across rectangle that are 1 ½” apart. See in the picture where I made my pin marks. I started just below my button holes but if you didn’t do button holes you can just start your measuring from the top of the rectangle. Sew straight lines from pin to pin all of the way across. Trim all of your extra threads off.
Without binding: If you don't want to add binding, you'll need to fold in the edges of the unsewn side and iron them down before you start sewing your lines across so you'll have a nice seam at the end.

Step 5:
Stand your rectangle on it’s side with the open side at the top. Making sure to stay on one side of the fleece, put 1 teaspoon of the soil moist granules in each pocket except for the pocket with the button holes (if you did those.) Shake the rectangle so that the granules go down to the bottom of the pocket.

Step 6:
Binding: Using the “Angry Chicken” binding without swearing method, sew the binding onto your rectangle starting with the open edge. Check around the whole edge of the pad to make sure that you don’t need to do any touchups with the binding. It’s super hard to sew up little gaps once it’s soaked and expanded.
Without binding: Shake the crystals to the bottom of the pockets away from the open seam. Sew across the seam.

Step 7: Soaking
Fill up your bathroom or kitchen sink and soak the pad for a few minutes until the gel expands and fills up the tubes. You can smoosh it around with your fingers to make sure that it is evenly distributed along each tube/pocket. Here is what it looks like after soaking.

Side view

Step 8: Admire your handiwork
Put it in your stroller and stand back to admire your handiwork. If your child is still sleeping (Yay!) put the pad in your refrigerator to get it nice and cool before your walk.

Congratulations you finished!

You are welcome to make these for family and friends but please don't sell these for profit.

P.S. I'm also testing it out as a cooling pad to lay in the baby car seat to keep the buckles and seat from getting scorching hot while you are out of the car. (Absolutely do not use this in the car seat while driving!) I'll let you know how that works soon!


  1. Thanks for this tutorial! I made one for my son and it works GREAT!

  2. Cute! But I'm curious, since you didn't use a waterproof lining, does it not wick through and get your baby all wet? I know these crystals expand and retain water, so I'm assuming you just let them dry out completely before using it in the stroller and they stay enlarged and still chill in the fridge enough to be effective? Love to try it, just wondering logistics first (was originally considering using removable ice packs, and was doing an online search for a similar product when I stumbled on this post). :) thanks!

    1. My family has made neck coolers for years using basically the same method and it DOES get you wet. I'm sure the baby does get wet but would you rather your little one be wet and fussy with sweat or wet, happy, and cool? :)

  3. Could you by chance sell this? I don't have the time to make one but I would love it!

  4. My son is in the coast guard and has just been transferred to Key west and I was thinking of making one for my grandson. Just curios as to why it can't be used while driving

    1. You should never use anything in the car seat that wasn't sold with the seat itself. You never want anything between the baby and the straps as any extras could compress during a crash causing slack in the straps and injury to the baby :) If you truly needed to use this in the car the only way that you could use it safely would be to lay it on top of the baby after they're strapped in but at that point you'd likely have the AC running rendering it unnecessary!

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  5. It's about an inch thick and would interfere with the safety of the carseat if they were to get in a crash. Please do not use it while your grandchild is in the carseat. It's meant to be used to keep the metal buckles and the padding from getting scalding hot in the sun. I have used the cooling pad successfully in the stroller behind my kid's back.

  6. I am new to sewing and everything so my first attempt I did not stitch everything very great and left gaps - realized this once the crystals expanded... However I just finished my second one and made sure I did not leave gaps as I turned my stitching etc. Even did some EXTRA stitching to insure it was all secure.. However after it has absorbed and expanded I am seeing a few crystals popping out of the stitched seems.. I am assuming this is not suppose to happen as I can't imagine those would be good for baby to ingest??

    1. Sometimes if you let it soak too long, it can expand too much and crystals can burst out of the seams. Also when sewing, sometimes crystals can get stuck in the seams and you don't notice them until they expand. It should only be used securely strapped behind baby in the stroller or laid in the carseat when baby isn't there. You should never let your child play with it as a toy or chew on it. It's definitely not for that purpose at all!

  7. I made this (yay!) and soaked it to activate the crystals. Now it is wet. If I put this in my stroller, my stroller will be wet (not yay) and my son will get wet (double not yay) what did i miss here? does it eventually dry, but still cool? Help, please!!!

    1. The fabric will dry and the pad will have a cool feeling for quite a few days until it needs to be activated again. I leave mine in the hot car and it will still cool the seat for 3-4 days before having to soak it again. The initial dampness is short-lived. I hope you like it!

  8. This was my second sewing project and it went beautifully! Love it! thanks for the easy to follow directions!

  9. Hi Shanna! Thanks for this great tutorial. I made one for my son and it has worked great. I am not a very good sewer, but all the other moms in my baby boot camp class want one, too. (We live in Houston and its SO hot). People have asked to pay me for them. Can you please contact me about possible licensing? lauren dot rocco at gmail dot com

  10. Making this for our upcoming trip to an amusement park. GREAT idea! Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Is anyone selling these?? I too am a busy mommy and also don't know how to sew but I would like to purchase one!

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  13. How much of the 1 lbs jar of soil moist did you use to make one cooling pad? This is a must make this summer and im just trying to assess how much soil moist I will need to make a few. Thanks!

  14. Hi, I'd love to make these and sell them! I echo Lauren's comment- is there a possibility of licensing the design?


  15. Hi. I'm a little late jumping on this ban wagon but green it goes :)
    I'm thinking to add a layer of pul to help with the seeping through...would this mess with it working properly and if ok would it be a layer on each side or just 1.
    Also is the soil noisy be ok around children?

  16. Hi Allyn, the seeping or evaporating is how this cooling pad works so you definitely don't want to encase it in pul. If you want to use pul, maybe use it in the middle instead of the fleece or just on one side. The soil moist holds the water in really well so it is only wet after you first soak it. The fabric will feel slightly damp but not wet during the rest of its time before resoaking it. The soil moist is definitely not something that should be left for kids to play with or chew on. The pad is for use behind their back and for use in the car seat when it is empty. The soil moist is used regularly by companies that make cooling neckbands for adults and older children and doesn't cause skin irritation or reactions. Does that help? Please let me know if you have any other questions. I'm curious how you will like the pul if you use it. I'm about to make one for my sister's new baby and might try it on the back side. ��

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  18. Great DIY guide! I wonder how long this cooler can last?

    I never tried DIY solution. Usually I will use some common way such as baby wipes & cooler mist to cool down the stroller.

    I list down few other ways here that you may check it out and give some comments: