Winter Car Seat Safety
It’s November and we find ourselves bundling up for dark, icy mornings. If we’re heading to the car with a little one in tow, it is important to remember the dangers of wearing a winter coat while riding in a car seat. Emily Thomas of Consumer Reports writes that, “As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn underneath a car seat harness because that can leave the harness too loose to be effective in a crash”. She goes on to outline how to check whether your child’s coat is too big to wear underneath a harness:
Step 1: Put the coat on your child, sit him or her in the car seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
Step 2: Without loosening the harness at all, unhook it and remove your child from the car seat. Take the coat off, put your child back in the car seat, and buckle the harness straps, which should be adjusted just as they were when the child was wearing the coat.
If you can pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger now, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.
For a video tutorial visit: https://www.consumerreports.org/car-seats/the-dangers-of-winter-coats-and-car-seats/
This information may have you concerned about how you’ll be able to keep your child warm and safely buckled this winter season. The following are some of the tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which should be able to help you strike the balance:
Store the carrier portion of infant seats inside the house when not in use. Keeping the seat at room temperature will reduce the loss of the child’s body heat in the car.
Dress your child in thin layers. Start with close-fitting layers on the bottom, like tights, leggings, and long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warmer top, like a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. Your child can wear a thin fleece jacket over the top. In very cold weather, long underwear is also a warm and safe layering option. As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and a coat on, your infant will probably need a hat, coat, and blanket.
Don’t forget hats, mittens, and socks or booties. These help keep kids warm without interfering with car seat straps. If your child is a thumb sucker, consider half-gloves with open fingers or keep an extra pair or two of mittens handy — once they get wet they’ll make your child colder rather than warmer.
Use a coat or blanket over the straps. You can add a blanket over the top of the harness straps or put your child’s winter coat on backwards (over the buckled harness straps) after he or she is buckled up. Some parents prefer products such as poncho-style coats or jackets that zip down the sides so the back can flip forward over the harness. Keep in mind that the top layer should be removable so your baby doesn’t get too hot after the car warms up.
Pack an emergency bag for your car. Keep extra blankets, dry clothing, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in your car in case of an on-road emergency or your child gets wet on a winter outing.
As we enter these winter months, we look forward to continuing to support your family in caring for and educating your children. We hope these resources are useful for you and that these tips are helpful reminders. We are excited to see all of the learning that your little genius will be doing throughout the next few months!
American Academy of Pediatrics (2019). Winter Car Seat Safety Tips from the AAP.
Thomas, E. A. (2018). The Dangers of Winter Coats and Car Seats: How to keep your child
warm and safe. Retrieved from: https://www.consumerreports.org/car-seats/the-dangers-of-winter-coats-and-car-seats/