Family & Parenting

Why You Should NEVER Leave Your Child’s Winter Coat On In The Car

This common car seat mistake could prove fatal.

On a freezing day, you might think you’re doing what’s best for your child by bundling them up in their winter coat before strapping them into their car seat. While this sounds innocent enough, you may be putting your child at risk. Sue Auriemma from Kids and Cars showed TODAY how this move could prove deadly: When a child is wearing a thick winter coat, it may feel like they’re snug in their car seat, but in reality, the straps are actually very loose.

It may not seem like a few inches of fabric and filler would make a difference, but the consequences could be fatal. Official crash tests confirm this, as a child dummy that appeared to be securely strapped into a car seat flew out of it in a simulated 30-mph crash.

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Today

Surprisingly, the advice also applies to adults. If you’re in a car wearing a seat belt, you should remove your winter coat before strapping yourself in as well.

For children, it’s best to put them into their car seats once their winter coat has been removed, and the coat can cover them like a blanket to keep them warm. Another option is to keep actual blankets in the car.

Watch this video produced by The Car Seat Lady to see what happens as a result of using bulky winter coats on children in car seats.

The Car Seat Lady has a lot of interesting tips on how to keep your child warm but strapped in safely. Check out her website on how to prepare for trips in the car with your toddler.

There are also a number of jackets that have been made specifically to be safe in a car seat, including the OneKid Road Coat and Cozzywoggle. Both are made to keep the cold out and your child safely strapped in.

car seat coat
Cozywoggle

No matter what you choose, keep this important safety tip in mind this winter, and share it with other parents and friends. A little discomfort from the cold is worth it when it can mean the difference between life and death.

Looking for other car seat safety tips, here’s a quick roundup of guidelines you should follow to keep your little ones safe:

1. Expensive Car Seats Aren’t Always Safer

One set of parents, who are both paramedics, posted on Facebook about the importance of not only finding the right seat, but securing the kids properly.

“In our experience, the biggest difference between a child’s safety hasn’t been if they were in the $600 car seat or the $200 one. It’s been about those straps,” wrote the Australian mom on her page Project Hot Mess.

2. Make Sure Seats Are Facing the Correct Way

Do not be in a rush to turn those rear-facing seats the other way, according to experts. A child should stay in a rear-facing position until they are 2 years old or have reached the rear-facing height or weight limit of the car seat. It’s strongly recommended that children remain rear-facing until at least 2. Convertible seats, like the one below, typically allow parents make the switch earlier, though you’re advised to resist the urge.

3. Is My Child Old Enough To Graduate To A Booster Seat?

Your child may be getting older, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to get out of a car seat and into a booster seat. Age is not the determining factor of when to graduate into a booster seat.

According to Car Seats For The Littles, the American Academy or Pediatrics recommends the following five guidelines when considering a booster seat for children ages 8 to 12. In order to fit the belt correctly, the following must *all* be true.

  1.  Shoulder belt firmly in the middle of the shoulder
  2. Lapbelt low on the thighs
  3. Bum all the way back in the vehicle seat bight
  4. Knees bend beyond the edge of the vehicle seat and feet rest on the floor
  5. Child can maintain this position 100% of the time without moving

Take a little at this boy. He’s eight years old and 4 ft. 8 in.: just one inch shy of the 4 ft. 9 in minimum many consider for a booster seat

He may be the correct age and almost the correct height, but he still has a ways to go before he moves out of that booster seat for good!

To get more information about proper car seat purchase tips and use, head over to Safe Kids for interactive guides, informative articles and many other resources to make sure all children stay safe in the car.

Remember, no matter the seat, following the manufacturer’s instructions is key!

Once you’ve arrived safely at your destination, keep your little bundle of joy warm and safe by carrying them around in this awesome Dad Shirt:

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