Car seats can’t do their job if they aren’t used correctly. We count on the harness to keep a child IN the car seat during a crash. Bulky or puffy coats prevent the harness from doing their job and may not hold the child in the car seat in a crash. Additionally, “bundle me” style car seat covers that go behind the child create added bulk and interfere with how the child fits in the car seat.
How can you keep your child warm?
- Fleece or hoodie with a hat is enough for most situations
- Car seat poncho (for toddlers and older)
- Put coat on backwards over arms
- Tuck blanket around child OVER straps
- Inside layer of coat or some very thin winter coats that pass the Safe Coat Test can be used in the car seat
- For infant carrier: shower cap style covers are ok
- Wear bulky coat to the car, take off, & then do one of the above
Safe Coat Test
To test if a coat is safe in the car: put child wearing the coat in the car seat; tighten correctly*; take child out without loosening straps; take off coat; put child back in car seat. If the straps need to be tightened more than the usual difference between layers of clothes, it means the coat created too much bulk between the child and the harness and it is NOT safe to be used in the car. There is no gu
aranteed car seat safe coat. All options need to be tested with YOUR child in YOUR car seat. Coats that are sized up often add extra unsafe bulk.
*A correctly tightened harness passes “The Pinch Test” (you cannot pinch any fabric of the harness above the chest clip)
**The first photo shows the unsafe bulk a coat puts between the child and the harness even when it is tightened over the coat