When it comes to winter time and car seat safety for babies, you may feel like you're caught in a dilemma. On one hand, you want to keep your kid warm. This means they're probably dressed in puffy coats and jackets. But on the other hand, bulky clothing (meaning puffy coats and jackets) shouldn't be worn under car seats in order to ensure safety. When a child is buckled into a car seat with a puffy jacket on, the car seat straps aren't firmly strapped against the child's body. This means that in the unfortunate event of a car crash, a child could slip through the extra space within the straps and be thrown from the seat. Knowing all of this, what's the solution for both keeping your child safe but also warm? Here are some of the top tips for winter car seat safety for babies.
1. Determine whether the car seat harness is too loose.
Previously, the general rule of thumb was to try and fit a couple fingers under the strap. However, because everyone's fingers are a different size, this test can be a bit too subjective. Instead, try to pinch a horizontal fold in one of the car seat straps that's above the chest clip. If you're able to grab it, the straps are too loose. If you're not able to grab a fold in the strap, it's tight enough and safe for your child.
2. Keep your children warm with other forms of clothing.
Instead of dressing your child in a puffy coat or jacket while they're in the car seat, keep them warm by dressing them in close-fitting laters. Try a combination of tights or leggings underneath pants on the bottom, and a thermal-knit undershirt under sweaters on top. In extremely cold weather, you can also utilize long underwear as a base layer. In addition to the clothing listed above, utilizing gloves, mittens and socks is another great way to keep children warm without interfering with the straps of car seats.
3. Save the puffy jacket or coat to use over the straps.
Once your child is safely buckled up, you can always cover them up with a warm blanket (on top of the buckles) or let them wear their winter coat backwards. This way, they'll be able to stay warm, but the effectiveness of car seat straps won't be affected.
4. Consider purchasing car seat safe winter coats or car seat safe snowsuits.
A number of companies manufacture car seat safe jackets that are designed to keep your child warm without interfering with car seat straps. Companies such as BuckleMeCoats or OneKid have designed car seat coats that have been crash tested and CPST approved.
5. Store your car seat inside when not in use.
Although it's easier to keep a car seat in the car, cold temperatures at night can result in a chilly car seat when it's time to ride in the morning, which will only expedite your child's loss of body heat when they're in the car. To assist with this, store the carrier portion of the car seat within the house when it's not being used. Keeping your child warm during the winter can be a challenge, especially when they're in the car. However, there are a number of solutions that will leave your child both safe and warm. By following the tips above, you'll ensure that your child remains safely secured while also happily comfortable.