Now that winter has (finally) arrived, I feel like now is a good time to remind and educate people as to why it is not safe for children to wear bulky winter coats while strapped into their car seats. Did you know that? I have been shocked and saddened by the amount of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter photos that have been posted showing very bundled up children in their car seats. I completely understand that most people are only doing what they believe is best, by keeping their kiddo warm in the freezing temperatures, but in fact, they are putting them at risk.
- Your child should not have a thick coat, snowsuit, or blanket on under the harness of a car seat. In a crash the coat would compress, making the straps too loose on your child and possibly allowing them to be ejected from the seat.
- Harnesses SHOULD be loosened and readjusted every single time your child enters the car.
- If you can fit more than one finger between the harness strap and your child’s collarbone once the jacket is removed, the coat is too bulky.
- Using a fleece or thinner jacket for use in the car, and a heavier coat for outside use is the best option. You can also tuck a blanket around the child once they are strapped into the seat. NOT under the harness straps, but around the legs etc.
- For infant seats, there are car seat covers available that fit over the whole infant seat once the baby is buckled in. Again, you can tuck a blanket around them if need be.
- Whenever possible, warm up your car before putting the baby in the vehicle.
As if you need a more graphic example as to why this is so important, I came across this story:
“In order to become a certified CPS tech, Ellis had to take an extensive car seat safety course and pass both a written exam and hands-on car seat installation exams. ‘When I took my tech class we were shown a picture of an infant seat with a snowsuit under the harness,’ she says. ‘The seat was pulled out of a car that had just been in a crash. The infant was ejected from the seat and the car and was found some feet away from the car, but the snowsuit was left in the seat just as the baby was wearing it.'”
I have posted about the dangers of thick winter coats in car seats on my Facebook, and have actually been laughed at before. I live in an area where it can get to -40C in the winter (gross, I know), and people find it incredible and scary that Marley does not wear a coat in the car. I have to tell you, it’s do-able! You have to change the way you think about your time in the car. You have to adjust your normal routine and allow some extra time to make sure your child is the safest they can be. Is it a pain in the butt? Absolutely! Especially if you are running in and out somewhere, but really, it’s worth it. So I decided to make a video on how we get Marley into the car. I will warn you, it’s not a fancy video; I do not know how to edit, my Macbook kept going to sleep on me and Marley wasn’t fully cooperative, BUT it gets the point across. Please take a moment to watch and please make sure you pass this info along.
Side note: Yes, I decided to turn Marley’s car seat forward facing. With the pain in the butt of winter temperatures as it is, and her growing constriction in the seat, I thought it was time. I hated it. I hate it so much that she was only forward facing for a few days, and I actually turned her back around to rear facing when I came home tonight. Click the link below for more info on the importance of rear facing.
EDITED TO ADD: Please check your local bylaws, as some areas issue fines if you “warm up” your car, aka idling. If you do not have a covered or attached garage, or are unable to warm up your car, I usually suggest removing the child’s coat, safely securing them into the car seat and putting the child’s coat on backwards, over the harness. Our goal here is to keep your child as safe as possible, not freeze them.
More info on car seat safety HERE