Have you ever seen a toddler with a puddle in the dead of winter?
Its the type of experience that makes layers are non-negotiable when dealing with children, especially for these colder months. Yet while these layers keep us safe in the wild, they are dangerous when worn in a car seat.
So, while we like to say “bundle up, you don’t want to catch a cold,” let’s make sure we know how to do so safely.
What’s the big deal?
So, whats the problem with these fluffy coats? We’re glad you asked!
Coats and jackets are very necessary at this time of year, but they can create space between the child and their harness when worn in a car seat. That space is dangerous when in a crash, since the more time before an object is stopped by another object, the more damage that’s done. Yay physics!
This means if the child is wearing the jacket when you buckle them in, the harness will not be properly tightened in the event of a collision. Since there will be more space before your child is caught by their harness, it will be more difficult for your child’s body to stay safe during an accident.
Seeing is Believing
In the video below, we watch as the fluffy coat becomes empty space in a simulated collision. No matter how much the harness is tightened, there is still leftover space when the car is stopped in an accident.
If you would like additional videos to watch, follow this link to find more videos about winter coats in car seats.
While seat manufacturers test for misuse like loose harnesses, they explicitly warn us of the dangers.
If the straps have space between the child and the harness, more energy is transferred to the child in the seat, resulting in a greater chance of injury. Therefore, every manufacturers manual instructs you to make the harness webbing snug against the child’s body, so it can hug them in place to stay safe.
A proper fit means you cannot pinch the webbing between your forefinger and thumb when checking up at your child’s collarbone.
Keep it Tight
Even if it seems like you can get the harness tight enough with a coat on, it will never be enough in the event of an accident.
If you find yourself skeptical we encourage you to see the differences for yourself in an at-home test:
- Place your child in their seat, wearing their winter gear.
- Tighten the harness as much as possible.
- Without loosening the harness, unbuckle your child and remove them from the seat.
As you can see at home, the harness is much looser. Not to worry, there are solutions! Read below for a few options to keep your kiddos warm while in their car seats through the winter.
Solutions for Babies:
Infant carriers often come with a cover, which zips up over the entire car seat to help them keep warm when its cold out. You can also use a blanket to carry your child to the car, removing the blanket to strap them into the harness then placing the blanket over their body.
Solutions for Toddlers:
If you have an older child this technique also works with any jacket they’re wearing, putting it on them backwards after they are safely buckled inside.
Keeping your kids warm and safe makes for a safer, quieter, and less stressful ride for everyone. We hope that by preparing yourself with the information available you can drive a little easier knowing you’re prepared in case of the worst.
Thank you for reading!