Keeping children warm in the winter is important, but so is car seat safety. Puffy coats can get in the way of car seat straps. If you were in a collision, the pressure of the accident could change how the child is restrained, which means the child could shift in the seat causing harm or even be ejected from the seat. Securing the child properly in the straps is key. If you have questions, refer to your owner’s manual or contact a CSPT.
How to Check If a Coat is Too Puffy
As a test, buckle your child in their car seat with their winter coat on. Tighten the car seat straps as usual. You should not be able to pinch the straps. Without loosening the straps, unbuckle your child and remove their coat. Put them back in the car seat. If you can now pinch slack in the straps, the coat is too puffy to be worn in the car seat.
Car Seat Safety for Keeping a Child Warm
What can you do to safely keep your child warm? After they are in their seat, you can put their coat on backward. Put their arms through the sleeves, kind of like a Snuggie! This will keep them warm without interfering with the straps.
Car Seat Ponchos are another great option. You can buy them at some stores or find handmade options places like Etsy. The car seat poncho shown in the photo has snaps down the back. The snaps make it super easy to put the child in their car seat. Plus, it actually keeps them warm out of the seat.
Blankets are great to tuck around an infant to keep them cozy while in the car.
Wearing a fleece jacket is a great way to keep your child warm. Some winter coats include a removable fleece inner piece. Kids can wear both jackets while outside and slide the heavier coat off once they are in the car. This will help you from getting unsolicited comments from strangers like, “Put a coat on that child!”
If you’re unsure, ask your pediatrician or a Child Passenger Saftey Technician for a check or advice on the safest way to use your car seat.