Winter Coats and Car Seats - Not A Good Combo

By Sara Youngblood-Ochoa February 19, 2021
Pictured above: Left - Child wears a lightly-lined windbreaker and a blanket over her lap. Right - Child wears a fleece poncho over a windbreaker with seat belt buckled under the poncho.

As the weather gets chillier, we all start to bundle up more. However when we bundle up our kids and then put them into a car seat, we are inadvertently putting them into a dangerous situation. Bulky coats and snow suits can add inches to your child and prevent you from being able to tighten the car seat straps snugly enough.

A recent test done at an official crash test lab shows a child dummy flying out his seat in a simulated 30 MPH crash. The dummy appeared to be securely strapped in prior to the wreck, but his coat made the straps too loose.

Not sure if your child's coat is too bulky for the car seat? Put your child in his car seat wearing his coat. Buckle him up and tighten the straps until you can't pinch any of the harness strap with your thumb and forefinger. Remove your child from the seat, but do not loosen the straps! Take the coat off, put him back in the seat and buckle him up again. If the straps are loose and you can pinch any of the harness strap with your thumb and forefinger, the coat is too big to be worn under the straps.

So how do you keep your Mac Kid warm on a cold winter day? Experts recommend buckling your child in without a coat. You can then cover them with a blanket, use a poncho over the straps, or turn their jacket around and have them slip their arms through the coat armholes. Using a poncho allows your child to be covered on the way to the car, then you can flip the poncho up to buckle and cover back up; on the way out of the car, unbuckle from underneath, pull the poncho down and go. Wearing the coat backwards on top of the car seat straps will also cover them like a blanket and keep them warm and buckled in snugly!