As winter temperatures drop parents are bundling up their children to brave the cold but those puffy layers may be putting them in danger.
Car seat safety is largely dependent on proper fit and unfortunately, bulky winter coats can affect how the harness fits your child. In fact, car seat manufacturers suggest that children should wear nothing thicker than a sweatshirt to ensure proper harness fit.
How Do I Know If Their Coat is Too Bulky?
If you’re curious whether your child’s winter gear is too bulky to wear in their car seat do this simple check:
- Put your child’s coat, put them in their car seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
- Without loosening the harness, unhook it and remove your child’s coat. Once the coat is removed, buckle the straps again without If you can pinch the webbing, the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.
Why does it matter if the straps are loose when the coat is off if they’re going to keep it on?
In the unfortunate event of a car wreck the material of the coat or other puffy layers will compress, leaving the straps too loose to properly protect your child. When the harness straps are not snug, they can’t do their job of helping your child come to a gentle stop during a crash, or worse, they may not be able to hold your child in the seat.
Keeping Your Child Warm Without the Bulk
Dress your child to be comfortable indoors but bring extra layers with you. After you have placed your child in their car seat and buckled their harness you may cover them with a blanket, use a manufacturer approved car seat cover, or put their coat on backwards to provide warmth.
Adding layers such as a hat, scarf or gloves are also great options to keep your child safe and warm while also allowing them to remove them if they get too warm during the drive.
This advice also applies to adults, many experts say you shouldn’t wear a winter coat as it can affect the fit of your seat belt.