With fall officially here next week and winter not far off, it’s time to pull those jackets out of storage.
However, before you bundle up your little one and leave the house, you should know that safety experts warn that strapping your bulky coat-wearing child in a car seat is actually a no-no.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), winter coats and snowsuits “can compress in a crash and lead to increased risk of injury.” Other safety advocates, meanwhile, warn that bulky clothing can make properly fastening your child into a car seat harder. In fact, last year, AAA included buckling children wearing bulky coats and sweaters into car seats in its list of the top 12 car seat mistakes parents make, noting: “Bulky coats can create slack in the harness system.”
So, assuming the winter weather is approaching where you live, you may be wondering how can you mix car seats and jackets. Just in time for Child Passenger Safety Week and Baby Safety Month, today’s hint is three such tricks.
1. Go for a car-seat friendly coat design. Some very thin styles of warm coats – think certain down and fleece designs – can actually be worn safely in car seats. Want to know if a certain coat fits this bill? Consumer Reports has a helpful how-to for figuring out whether a coat is too bulky to be worn under a car seat harness. Elsewhere, Jennie at the CarseatBlog wrote a nice roundup last November of some coats that may mix well with car seats. Finally, you may want to check out coat-like products specifically designed for safe car seat use like the Car Seat Poncho.
2. Use the coat as a blanket. The AAP, meanwhile, suggests tucking a coat around your baby “over the buckled harness straps if needed.” In other words, think of the coat as a blanket of sorts (and of course, a traditional blanket over the harness works too).
3. Go for a backwards look. Finally, Julie Prom, child passenger safety advocate at Chicco, has this helpful trick: “Buckle your child in without his or her jacket and then put it back on backwards over the harness.” And other safety experts recommend this approach too.
To be sure, the easiest trick is probably just to go for a car-seat friendly coat or to put your little one in the car coatless and crank up the heat. When I recently tried the blanket and backwards looks on my 2-year-old daughter, she refused to have the coat on her, and kept throwing it off. So, the latter two tricks may work better with very young, and older, kids, than with toddlers.
What are your tips for mixing car seats and winter coats? What coats have you found to be car-seat friendly?