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2/16/21blog post

car seat safety in the cold

Cold is in the air! Are you prepared? Help keep your kids safely warm and secure!

The simple solution to a cold winter day is to put your child in a winter jacket, right? Correct; however, a child wearing a winter jacket in a car seat can, in some situations, be very dangerous. These jackets can interfere with the seats’ harness and cause your child to not be strapped in correctly. These bulky jackets, though nice and warm, create an extra layer that will not allow you to tighten your child’s harness as tight as it should be. In the event of an accident, the bulk on these jackets will compress, leaving extra space for your child to move around, maybe even out of the car seat!

Here are some tips to check if your child’s jacket is too bulky to keep on while in their car seat.

  • Put the jacket on your child.
  • Buckle your child into the car seat.
  • Tighten the harness straps until you are not able to pinch any excess webbing.
  • Unbuckle, but don't loosen, the harness straps.
  • Take your child out of his or her jacket.
  • Buckle your child back into the car seat - but this time do not tighten the harness.
  • Check the harness for proper fit. Can you pinch any of the webbing? If you can, the jacket allows too much slack and isn't a safe option for keeping your little one warm. The same would hold true for snowsuits or buntings that you might have for littler ones.

Now that you’ve tested your child’s jacket and it’s too bulky, what should you do next? Here are some alternatives to keeping your child warm while also keeping them safe in the car!

  • Have your child wear the jacket backwards. After you have secured your child in the car seat with the chest clip at armpit level and harness pulled snug, put your child's coat on backwards tucking the hood down inside and tuck the edges behind your child's arms. This way his or her front will be nice and warm but won't interfere with the car seat harness.
  • Use a bathrobe or poncho. A warm bathrobe, wearable blanket (Hello Snuggie) or poncho can be used. After securing your child in the car seat with the chest clip at armpit level and harness pulled snug, cover him or her up and tuck in the sides.
  • Choose wisely. Avoid using any products that are designed to line the car seat under your child - most car seat manufacturers do not allow them.

Want to learn more about car seat safety? Check out childrensdayton.org/safekids