Winter Coats and Car Seats
Did you know that winter coats and car seats can be dangerous together? When it’s cold out, it’s common sense to grab a coat. This goes double for infants and kids. But where car seats are concerned, it turns out, coats are not such a great idea. Consumer Reports says “winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat”.
Both rear and forward facing car seats have this same issue. The extra thickness of a winter coat or snow suit is enough to make the straps too loose to be effective in a crash, and the child could slip out.
In northern climates where going without a coat (at any age!) is not a viable option during winter months, there are two common work arounds for this.
Option 1: Put a blanket over the child after he or she is buckled in. This works for a rear facing infant carrier or a front facing 5-point harness car seat.
For little ones in an infant carrier, something like this JJ Cole Car Seat Cover is also an option. (affiliate link)
Option 2: For toddlers and older kids, bring the child’s coat. Once the child is buckled in, put the coat on backwards. My nieces think this is silly and fun, so cooperation is fairly easy to get.
Option 3: There are now a few companies selling “car seat safe” coats for infants and children. I’m not sold on these, for a few reasons. First, putting an extra layer between your child’s back and the seat is not recommended (see the About.com article below). Second, were these coats tested? How? In my mind, this requires more research. It could be a great option. Or not. Use your own judgement.
Yes, these options require a little extra time and effort when getting ready to go somewhere. After a few trips, though, it just becomes part of the seasonal process. And keeping kids safe is totally worth it.
Links for Further Reading
Consumer Reports – This is the article quoted above. It includes a video and strap test to determine if your child’s coat and car seat work together or not.
About.com – An article describing a process to check all your child’s coats with the car seat, a cautionary story, and great tips on choosing a car seat cover. (Hint: there are no federal guidelines for after market car seat accessories, so beware of products advertising compliance.)