The Dangers of Using Winter Coats in an Infant Car Seat

Car seat safety is something that many parents didn't used to know, but fortunately over time there's more and more information about how to properly strap your child into a car seat to prevent them from getting injured. If you're a new parent, or even a seasoned parent, it might be worthwhile to look over these tips from a reader to make sure you're keeping your babies as safe as possible in the car.

What not to do. This infant is improperly
buckled in- there's too much slack. 
(Couldn't find a stock photo that was safe!)

It's getting cold outside, and the temperature is starting to drop. As a parent, our main priority is to keep our baby warm and cozy all the time, especially when hitting the road. Cars tend to be very cold even with the heater turned on.

The majority of parents tend to bundle their kids in thick snowsuits and winter coats to help them brave the cold weather. However, combining bulky winter coats with an infant car seat can put your baby's life at risk in case of an accident. Leaving it on your child can create a gap between your precious angel and his safety harness. Also, no matter how much you tighten its straps, your little one will not be able to get much air from these clothes.

Why Using Winter Coats Are Dangerous

Your child's safety harness should be close to his body all the time. In the event of a car crash, all his clothes including his coat will compress. However, thick and bulky snowsuits and winter coats may compress enough, creating plenty of slack in his car seat harness, making it seem like you did not tighten its straps at all. Having loose straps may result in not keeping your child in the car seat or in the vehicle.

How To Bundle Your Little One Safely

There are several do's and dont's you need to keep in mind to provide your child with additional protection during the winter season to keep him warm and safe at the same time. Here are some of those:

  • Ensure that the harness straps are properly adjusted according to your baby's size, and the seat belt is properly buckled. Whenever you make any changes to your baby's car seat buckles, always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

  • Buy infant car seat covers. If you're worried that your baby may get cold in the car seat's carrier when transferring when getting him in and out of your vehicle, there are a lot of safe infant car seat covers to keep him warm available. Infant car seat protectors are specially designed with gaps for the straps of the harness. They can also neatly fit in the original shell without intervening with your baby's car seat harness. Moreover, it still provides enough space for your child to move around comfortably.

  • Keep the seat belts properly fastened. Loose-fitting straps won't provide enough support and may result in the child becoming trapped or entangled. Seat belts are made to fit a specific circumference around your child's torso. If the seat belt doesn't fit right, try tightening and adjusting according to your baby's size, including the layers of warm clothing he’s wearing.

  • Layer up with thin clothes. You can dress your child up with thin layers of clothes. Startup with tights, long underwear, leggings, or those that are close-fitting. Cover them up with a sweater or shirt and pants. The top layer should be thin but can provide warmth like a polar fleece jacket. Finish off his whole winter ensemble with booties or warm socks, mittens, and a hat that will not meddle with how snug the straps are.

  •  Keep loose items away from the car seat area. Items that could get caught in the seat such as toys, liquids, blankets and hair ties should be kept away from the child. When using an infant seat, keep loose clothing out of the car's back seat compartment. It can become a choking hazard for a small child.

  • Keep your car warm by starting it ahead of time. Your baby will love the comforting warmth that will greet him when you place him in your car. Also, you won't be struggling with him when taking off his jacket since it's already warm inside.

  • Keep your baby buckled at all times while in the car seat. Always buckle up the child. Your baby could become seriously injured if he falls out of the seat. Injuries could be so severe that you may warrant a vehicle injury lawyer to bring your case to court, for instance.

  • Always have a blanket handy in your vehicle. Instead of having your child's coat on, put his favorite blanket in your vehicle at all times. You can just drape it over him once you're settled inside your vehicle. However, do not tuck it under the car seat straps of the harness, so that there will be no barrier between your child and the safety harness. Having a blanket in your car will ensure that your baby will always be warm.

  • Check your car seats for cracks and breaks in the material. These small tears and gaps might not seem dangerous, but over time, they can be a choking hazard. More so, remember that when you’re layering your baby in thin clothing, some of the little choking hazards might get entangled with his outfit. Before each use, go through the entire location of your car seat and check for any items that can be a hazard or any dirt and debris that you’ll have to clean. Always give your baby’s car seat a good wipe down before every use.

  • Remove your child's coat and then buckle the car seat. Take off your little one's coat before putting him inside your vehicle. Buckle up his car seat, and then put his coat over his arms in a backward position. You can keep him warm while still keeping him safe during the drive.

  • Always choose a good quality car seat. Utmost safety of the children while in their car seats can never be achieved if the car seat is made of poor quality, to begin with. Always make sure that you select a high-quality product. While this may cost a little more, it’ll ensure that your child remains securely strapped into the seat. Ensure that the car seat is made from durable materials and manufactured by a reputable company. Choosing a car seat doesn’t always mean buying the most expensive one. It only has to be of good quality.

How To Check If Your Baby's Snowsuit Or Winter Coat Is Safe

You can assess if what you've bought is safe by following these steps:

  • Dress your baby in a couple of thin layers of clothing, and then put his winter coat or snowsuit.
  • Buckle your kid in the car suit as tight as possible but not too much that he can't properly breathe.
  • Without loosening the straps of the car seat, unbuckle your kid.
  • Take off his winter coat or snowsuit, and then buckle him up again in his car seat.
  • Now slide down its chest clip, and then pull it upwards on its shoulder straps to check if there is any slack.
  • His winter coat or snowsuit is unsafe for your car seat if there's slack.

What You Need To Remember Before Purchasing An Infant Car Seat Cover

Avoid purchasing thick infant car seat protectors that thread through your kid's car seat harness strap that acts like a bunting for your child. They may intervene with the functionalities of the car seat, and most manufacturers will void its warranty if you use aftermarket accessories. Shower cap type infant car seat covers are normally safe. Make sure to choose those that don't have a layer under your baby, and will not cover his face as well.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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