I've always been a huge proponent of car set safety although I haven't always been perfect. You might remember that I had been installing my son's car seat incorrectly for some time before I discovered the error of my ways. That was a terrifying gut check and I don't want any parent to have to go through that kind of dread. But more importantly, I don't want any parent to have to feel guilty their child was not as safe as could be in their car seat. It might seem frustrating to have to wrestle a toddler into a coat, take the coat back off, then get them into a car seat while they're fighting against the straps - but in the event of an accident, you'll be glad you did.
Now that we're in the cold weather months, it's even more important to be diligent about safe car seat practices. The standard winter coat is extremely unsafe to use in a car seat. So what's a parent supposed to do? Well, fear not! I've found a wide range of options to choose from. Your child doesn't have to be cold for your car rides to be safe. Try a thin one-layer fleece jacket! They provide you with enough protection to get you from the coat to the car in most cases.
Testing Your Toddler's Outerwear
Good news! There's an easy way to test your toddler's jacket for car seat safety. I recommend doing this with any coat you purchase before you remove the tags, even if it claims to be car seat safe. Trust me, it's worth the five minutes to save yourself a lot of heartache later. Do your own testing; almost none of the available outerwear on the market has been tested in a car seat crash test.
First, put your kid in the coat. Zip them up as they'd normally wear it. Then, get them strapped into their car seat - tighten the straps and adjust the chest clip of the car seat. Make sure they pass the pinch test - that you can't pinch any excess fabric on the strap on their shoulder. Next, without adjusting the car seat straps, take your kid out of the seat and remove the coat. Finally, put your tot back in the car seat and do the pinch test again. If there is ANY slack you can pinch between your fingers, the coat is NOT safe for them to wear in the car.
The average coat adds up to FOUR inches of slack in a car seat strap! That's enough slack to allow a child to be ejected from the car during an accident. But what are you supposed to do if none of your kids' coats pass the safety test? Don't worry! You've got loads of options to keep your little safe and warm.
Car Seat Poncho
Car seat ponchos are a great option you can buy from a boutique or even make yourself with a little craftiness! The ponchos don't attach anywhere around the torso, so it's the perfect solution for strapping your little in safely. Nothing comes between them and their car seat or straps! Bonus: when you remove them from the car seat to take them inside, the poncho wraps around them like a blanket and traps their body heat in.
You can do the good ol' wrap-your-kid-in-a-blanket and rush them in from the car. It's worked since the beginning of time! To be honest, it's really nice not to have to worry about fiddling with a coat in a car seat; especially since babies outgrow clothes in a matter of weeks anyway. Not to go all mama-bear on you now, but it's good practice to keep a blanket in your car at all times anyway. You never know when you might get stranded and need to share that blanket!
Car Seat Cover
To clarify, I don't mean those car seat covers that come between the baby and the seat - those covers are NOT safe at all! The kind of car seat cover I mean is a stretchy fabric that goes over the whole seat with an opening at the handle so you can carry the seat. The only downside? This kind of cover really only works in an infant bucket seat that comes in and out of the car. It's a great option for people who have winter babies!
One Kid Road Coat
Remember when I said that cold weather coats aren't safe for car seats? Well, there's an exception to that rule. The One Kid Road Coat is specifically designed to fit both under AND over car seat straps. The innermost layer is a thin jacket material that doesn't create dangerous bulk or slack in car seat straps. You can safely strap in your baby without removing the coat at all! Then, zip the outer layer over the straps and chest clip to keep older kids from unstrapping themselves while you're driving! This coat solves so many problems, it's a literal lifesaver. Only downside? It sells for over $100.
However you choose to keep your kids warm this winter, be sure to do it safely! Car seat safety is far more important than being uncomfortable for a few moments in a chilly vehicle. Safe car seat travels this winter!
Which of these solutions do you use to keep your kids safe and warm? Tell me which options I missed on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #ColdWeatherCarSeatSafety.