Well, winter is upon us (in many places, anyways!). And with that colder weather comes the need to bundle up and keep the family warm. But what about when you’re in the car? Are you familiar with the “Dos and Don’ts” of winter car seat safety?
Here are some tips for Winter Car Seat Safety:
Heavy winter coats. Anything puffy or oversized will create slack in your child’s car seat harness. In the event of a wreck or sudden stop, all that fluff will compress and your child will not be properly restrained.
Snow suits: Same idea as heavy winter coats but surrounding your entire child! (below illustrates a child a snowsuit with straps properly tightened to pass the “pinch test” and after the snow suit is removed without adjusting the straps in between)
Bundle Mes/Foot Muffs. You know those great liners that go under the baby and then wrap over them to keep them comfy cozy? Not so great for the car seat (though they are wonderful for the buggy/stroller!). All car seat manufactures strictly prohibit the use of after-market products and anything that goes between your child and their car seat can affect the way their seat protects them in a collision so unless it came with your car seat, don’t use it! (The “shower cap” style covers for infant carrier that go over the perimeter of the seat and not underneath the child or straps are safe.)
Stick with lightweight coats or sweaters. To determine if your child’s coat is too heavy for car seat use, try this trick: buckle your child into their car seat with normal clothes on. Remove your child without loosening the straps. Put the coat on and try buckling the child up again. If you can buckle him/her in without trouble, the coat is fine. If the straps are too tight, the coat is too heavy and dangerous.
Wear layers. When it’s horribly cold and the car isn’t warmed up, we put an extra sweater or fleece on the kids to help with the initial chill (of course, hats and gloves are always permitted as well!)
Blankets. Once your child is strapped safely into his/her car seat, you can out anything you want over the harness and tuck it in beside your child.
Coats over the top. Similar to blankets, you can put your child’s coat on backwards once they are buckled in. while traveling around Germany with a tiny little Sugarplum, i found that for little tinies an upside down coat (feet in the hood, sides and sleeves tucked in the sides) works beautifully.
Ponchos. These are great if your child is out of the infant seat and needs to get from the house to the car in the freezing cold. Your child simply wears the poncho to the car then once buckled up, the poncho lays over the top of the seat keeping little one warm.
And don’t be mistaken into thinking once a child is out of a car seat puffy coats are okay. Even older children in boosters and adults need the vehicle seatbelt to fit snuggly against the body. The compression factor of a puffy coat applies to passengers of all ages!
For more on keeping your little ones safe in the car, see all of Beyond Mommying’s Car Seat Safety posts.
Car seat safe items include:
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