Parents know it’s difficult to go anywhere with a young family — and winter with kids is even more complicated with puffy coats and extra layers. You might have even had to take a minute and loosen up the straps on your child’s car seat to fit around their coat. But before you loosen those straps, you should reconsider whether or not you should let your child wear their coat in their car seat. Wearing a puffy coat in a car seat can be dangerous if the straps are too loose on your child to be effective during a crash. Learn how to check your child’s coat, and find out other options for keeping your kids warm and safe during the winter.
Test your child’s coat
Puffy coats are generally considered too large to be worn in a car seat. During a car accident, the puffy layers of your child’s coat will compress and the loosened straps could lead to injury or ejection. So, does this mean all coats should be taken off while using a car seat? It depends.
Consumer Reports offers helpful advice for checking to see if your child’s coat is thin enough to be worn while they sit in their car seat.
- With your child wearing their coat, place them in their car seat and secure the harness. Adjust the harness and tighten it so you can’t pinch any of the belt webbing between your thumb and forefinger.
- Unhook your child’s car seat harness and remove them from the seat. Don’t loosen the harness. Take off their coat, then buckle your child back into their seat. The straps should be loosened like they were when you child was wearing their coat. If you can pinch the strap webbing between your thumb and forefinger, the coat is too big to be worn underneath the car seat harness.
Winter car seat cover
You’ve done the test. Your child’s coat is too bulky to fit safely in their car seat. But now with no coat you have a cold toddler. How can you keep them warm and safe?
Instead of wearing one bulky top layer, you can try dressing your child in several smaller layers. Keeping your baby or toddler warm during winter often starts before you even leave your home. Put tights under their pants or a thin fleece jacket over a long-sleeve shirt. You’ll want to keep in mind how cold the weather is and how warm your car will be during transit so your child doesn’t overheat or get too cold.
Keep a few blankets in the car during winter. This works for the entire family. Buckle up first, then place the blanket on top of yourself or your child.
Flip it backwards
One great option for your kids is to have them wear their coat backwards after putting on their seatbelt. This works well when you don’t have the option of dressing them in extra layers and you don’t have a blanket.
Coats and adults
Think it’s just kids who need to shed their winter coats before getting into a seatbelt? Think again. The same principle applies to adults. A large winter coat can keep your seat belt from snuggling against you — which means that in the event of an accident, you could be injured or ejected from your car.