Well, winter has officially arrived, and with it come heavy coats and snowsuits. While they are a necessity to keep our kids warm and dry, they are not for kids travelling in car seats.
The truth is, it’s not safe to put thick coats, snowsuits or blankets under the harness straps of a car seat because the straps need to stay snug on the child. Coats and heavy snowsuits actually compress in a crash, which can create a lot of extra slack. This could cause your child to be ejected from the car seat in a crash.
Here’s what you can do to ensure safe travel with your kids during winter months:
- Bring your infant carrier car seat into the house after each use. Young children, especially infants, are not able to regulate their body temperature. Placing them in a cold car seat can be dangerous. For older infants and toddlers, warm up your car before buckling them in their seat.
- Dress an infant in warm, normal clothing like long pants and a sweatshirt. Buckle him or her into the infant seat and cover the entire seat with a blanket, tucking in the sides around the baby. Then you can put other blankets over the top as needed. Make sure nothing is behind your baby’s back.
- There also are car seat covers that fit over the top of the child once they are snugly buckled in. Again, it’s important to make sure nothing is behind your baby’s back.
- For older infants and toddlers, take their coats off before buckling them into the car seat. Once the harness is snug, put their coat back on them backwards over their arms. Yes, I know it seems funny but it works!
- When buying winter coats, remember to keep thickness in mind. Polar fleece is thin but warm, so it works well keeping kids safe and warm in their car seats.
- Have your car seat installed or checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. Call (877) 607-5280 toll-free to schedule a free appointment at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Booster and Car Seat Clinic.
For more child passenger safety information, visit bluekids.org/KohlsCares. We want every child to travel safely this winter.
–Jane Howard, car seat educator, Children’s Health Education Center