The #1 Winter Car Seat Safety Tip

Keep your kids safe this winter with this winter car seat safety tip – as well as the best (and safest) ways to keep your child warm in the car. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m kind of a crazy car seat lady.

It’s something I became passionate about when Jack was a baby, and I haven’t really let go of it since.

I think part of it comes from the fact that I’ve been in four car accidents, and I figure that while I can’t control everything on the roads, I can at least make my kids as safe as possible in the car.

I have all sorts of opinions on this that I could share, but since the weather is getting colder, I wanted to focus on winter car seat safety.

The number one tip for a safe winter in a car seat?

Take off their bulky snow coats.

I know that the weather can be freezing outside and that you don’t want them to freeze when you take them outside.

However, putting a snow coat underneath the straps in a car seat is unsafe. Here’s a little visualization.

Here is Oliver in his car seat with a big, poofy coat. Isn’t he cute?

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Here’s a closeup of the straps – I pulled them as tight as I could, and it looks snug, right?

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When I take the coat off, look at how much room is left between the straps and your child.

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There is a lot.

Car seat straps are designed to be snug next to your child’s body, like this:

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Obviously, when a coat is placed in between them, it’s not going to be snug against their body. If they were to get in a car accident, the chances of them being hurt or even ejected from the car seat is much higher than if the straps were properly fitted (especially if the coat were to compress, which can happen). Here is a great video from NBC’s Today Show that shows this more in detail.

So what can you do instead?

There are a few options!

The most common complaint  I hear from people is that their child gets cold between the car and the house. Trust me, I’m not advocating that you take your child out with no coat on in the freezing cold.

You can simply just take it off when they get to the car. You can keep the coat unzipped on the way out so you can quickly remove it.

Then to keep them warm in the car? The simplest solution is just to flip their coat around and put it over their arms.

However, if your child is smaller, or they want to move around, this isn’t the best idea. We tried this with Oliver, and I’m pretty sure he felt like he was being smothered.

Options for Keeping Child Warm in the Car

There are definitely  other ways to keep your child warm in the car. Many products have been created for this purpose – though not all of them are safe.

First off, you should know if a coat is safe or not, because some are. You simply just need to do as I did above. Put your child’s coat on,

Fleece jackets tend to be warm and thin enough to be okay in a car seat – so I definitely recommend buying one of those. They are typically pretty inexpensive, and my kids always like them. the Infant OSO from North Face is a great option for babies.

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The Road Coat is car seat safe as well, but it does have a pretty big price tag.

However, there are other products specifically designed for keeping kids warm in the car.

Keep in mind, that if the product interferes or goes over or under the car seat harnesses, it should NOT be used. For instance, the popular BundleMe is actually unsafe in car – you can read more about that here (and see how to adjust it so it IS safe).

Instead, you should look for shower cap style car seat covers, such as:

Blanket

You can simply put a blanket on or around your baby. We use a simple swaddle blanket (this one is from Adin and Anais), and we swaddle it around Oliver after he’s already been buckled in.

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Layering

Make sure your put some nice layers on your child – you can do a long sleeved onesie, fleece lined leggings or jeans, a hat, gloves, etc., and they can go along way in helping your child feel nice and cozy.

Car Seat Poncho

This is a pretty cool invention in my opinion – it is something that you can put over the car seat and your child to keep them extra warm. You can buy them on Amazon, but there are also lots of sellers on Etsy. You can also make your own!

I’m sure there are plenty of other car seat products out there – but just remember, if it interferes with the straps in any way, it shouldn’t be used!

Other Tips

If your child is in an infant car seat, I always recommend keeping the car seat inside during the winter. Cars can get really cold, and by keeping it inside, you can prepare baby for the cold before even going outside (especially if you use one of the shower cap covers I mention above).

In addition, make sure you are using a quality car seat and that your child is in the proper car seat for their height and weight. If you get into an accident, this can prevent serious injuries or even death.

In general, children under 30 pounds and under the age of two should be rear facing – however, they can rear face longer safely if their car seat permits it. For instance, we just barely turned Jack front facing at the age of 4.5, but he actually still was under the limits.

The convertible car seat we have for Oliver is the Diono RadianRXT – we were sent this car seat as a product sample, but I really do love it.  This car seat was designed with your child’s safety and comfort in mind – and it can be rear facing until 45 pounds, which is pretty amazing.

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Obviously, if you get in a car accident, you will want to know your child is safe – and with the RadianRXT‘s safety features (such as a steel alloy frame, aluminum reinforced side walls, and energy absorbing EPS foam), you will know that! All these features make the car seats a bit heavier, but it’s actually a very narrow car seat – you can fit three across.

I hope that this will help you navigate the winter season a little easier for your little one!

Keep your kids safe this winter with these winter car seat safety tips - as well as the best (and safest) ways to keep your child warm in the car, such as a car seat poncho.

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