Winters in Kansas City can be brutal. Snow, frigid winds, and below-zero temperatures are not uncommon in January and February and the last thing a parent wants to do is expose a young child to the bitter cold. Before leaving the house, we layer, bundle, wrap, and zip our kids into coats, snow pants, scarves, mittens, and hats. But how does all of that bulk fit into a car seat? As it turns out, not very well.
How Coats Affect Car Seat Safety
Any compressible material between the car seat straps and the child can increase the amount the child can be dangerously thrust forward with a sudden stop. When a child is wearing thick layers, it becomes impossible to tighten the straps as much as they should be tightened for optimal safety. To test whether your child’s coat is too bulky for his car seat, try the following:
- Put the child’s coat on and place him in the car seat. Tighten the straps until you can’t pinch the webbing of the strap between your thumb and pointer finger.
- Unbuckle the harness without loosening the straps and remove your child from the seat.
- Take the child’s coat off and put him back in the car seat. Buckle the harness and check the tightness of the straps. If you can pinch any of the strap, the harness is too loose, which means the coat is too bulky to be worn in the car seat.
Tips for Coping With the Cold and Keeping Your Child Safe
You obviously don’t want your child to suffer in the cold in order to ensure his safety in the car. Try the following tips for a warm and safe car ride:
- Keep the cold-weather accessories on. Hats, mittens, boots or thick socks, and insulated snow pants can all stay on without hindering the straps.
- Put the coat on backwards. After the child is buckled in, turn his coat around and place his arms through the arms of the coat.
- Use a warm blanket. Keep a heavy fleece blanket in the car to cover your child after he is buckled in.
- Buy an infant seat cover. As an accessory to your infant’s seat, you can buy an insulating cover that zips up over the baby after she is buckled into the seat.
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