Winter coats are a necessary evil here in the northeast. They’re essential for protecting baby from harsh weather, awesome for letting your toddler play outside without getting soaked and, most of them are pretty darn cute. So what’s so evil about them you ask?
Winter coats and infant or toddler car seats just do.not.mix.
It’s a safety thing! The main cause of concern is that a child’s car seat straps are too loose (even though they may feel tight to you) when he is wearing a bulky jacket which means the car seat will not work properly in an accident.
Seriously! How scary is that?!
There are two fixes to this – a short route & a long route:
1.) The Coat/Strap Experiment (aka the long route):
- Bundle DB up in his winter jacket and put him in the carseat
- Fasten the car seat buckles, securing DB in the car seat like you’re ready to go loosening the straps if needed to fit both him & the jacket
- Unbuckle the car seat buckles without loosening the straps
- Take his jacket off and put him back in the carseat
- Fasten the car seat buckles (again, don’t loosen or tighten the straps)
- Is he secure enough in the carseat without you tightening the straps? If no, then DB’s coat is too bulky for the car seat.
If DB is wearing a bulky coat in an accident and the straps are too loose to account for the bulkiness of the coat then your precious bundle could be ejected from the carseat leaving only his jacket behind. *This has actually happened*
If you’re a jacket junkie you might be thinking that this sounds highly unlikely. Sure – I hear that. An accident seems highly unlikely too until… it happens.
2.) The Bold and the Bare-tiful (aka the short route):
- Warm up your car a few minutes before departure
- Forgo the coat for the car ride (bringing it along for your final destination)
- Dress DB in a couple of layers (for instance: a short sleeve onesie, a long sleeve top or onesie, and a warm but not super thick sweater)
- Bring a blanket for DB’s legs or for him to cuddle with
I use the short route (shocking – I know). In addition to the safety and simplicity of it, I’m freaked out that Felicity will overheat. I tend to blast the heat in the car so it’s nice and toasty. I don’t want to be all snug as a VW bug while she’s sweating baby beads.
My husband and I are on different sides of the fence with this. He thinks she should be wearing a jacket in the car while I am all for The Bold & the Bare-tiful (which as you now know means dressed in layers minus the thickness of a bulky jacket). This is when we have to compromise. I put Felicity in her lighter (read: much less thick) winter coat when we go out in his car and she’s bold and bare-tiful in my car.
The rule of thumb for a car seat is that the only thing that’s supposed to be in a car seat is your DB and the seat. This means that if you decide to use on of those stylish car seat covers – opt for one that covers DB by fastening to the outside of the carseat not the ones that require you to secure it underneath the straps.
If you have any questions or have your own winter wear challenges/tips - please post them in the comment section below.
Stay safe & warm!