When you live in a state such as Michigan, winter is something that you’ve learned to love, hate or deal with. Frigid temperatures, drifting snow, ice are all things you learn to navigate. But winter can be an especially tricky and difficult time for car seat users. As the temperature drops, the number of layers and bulky jackets increases. But did you know that those layers can pose a possible threat to your kiddo’s safety?
As a general rule, bulky clothing (like winter coats or those ridiculously cute teddy bear snowsuit outfit for babies) shouldn’t be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. If in a crash, that padding is compressed and can create extra space between the child and the harness. This can then allow for a child to slip through and be thrown from the car seat… it’s a pretty scary thought for me to imagine when I look at my three kiddos.
(Intact Health & Natural Parenting Public Page/Facebook)
To help reduce the risk and increase safety, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has put together a list of useful tips to help parents keep their children safe and warm:
Dress infants and children in thin layers. Begin with close-fitting layers (i.e. leggings, long-sleeved bodysuit), then add pants and a warmer top, like a sweatshirt. It’s alright for your child to wear a thin fleece jacket over this. As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults (ex. If you have a hat and coat on, your infant will likely need a hat, coat and blanket). Each of my kiddos has a lightweight fleece coat that we appropriately call the "car coat" that they wear in the winter months. We pair it with a winter hat, gloves/mittens and if still cold they can wear their winter coat backwards until they warm up!
(photo credit: The Car Seat Lady)
Use a coat or blanket over the straps. Blankets are never in short supply when you have children, so covering your child with a blanket once he or she is buckled in is a great option! This is actually an option that I use quite a bit, so as to avoid my children from over-heating once the car warms up… just simply remove the blanket at they are good to go.
Do the “Pinch Test”. Often times, the addition of warm clothing makes it more difficult to properly tighten a car seat harness. To check and see if the harness is tight enough, seat your child in their car seat, buckle and tighten the harness as your normally do. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened more to fit snugly against your child’s chest.
Only Use Car Seat Covers Over The Baby. There are numerous car seat cover options out there for parents to select from, it’s a bit overwhelming. However, one thing to keep in mind when purchasing one is that you should never select a cover that goes underneath the baby or between his body and the harness. Additionally, make sure to keep the baby’s face uncovered. There are tons of options out there
Keep an Emergency Kit In Your Car. This is a useful tip for any season. But when dealing with the winter months it’s a great idea to keep a couple extra blankets, sets of clothes, hats/mittens, travel wipes, a few diapers, and non-perishable snacks in your car. We have a small tote filled with all these items plus a couple bottles of water, a couple small toys, children’s Tylenol, a small first-aid kit and flashlight.
Safety is every parents #1 priority when it comes to their children. I hope that this information will help you to safely prepare your child for winter car travel. Check out the links below for additional information and some products I've enjoyed!
The Car Seat Lady (LOVE this website)