Winter is the time of year to bundle up. Kids and adults both need protection from the frigid temperatures outdoors. But did you know, children who wear puffy coats while in car seats are at an increased safety risk? While puffy coats are perfect for days out in the snow, they should not be worn in a car seat. 

Why are puffy coats the cause of higher risks in the car?

Puffy coats are dangerous to children in car seats because they keep the car seat harness from working correctly in the event of an accident. What happens is the fluffiness of the coat will flatten out from force, leaving space between the harness and the child. That space means the child is not secured into the seat. And can allow them to slip through and be thrown from the seat. 

Avoiding the risks

It’s important that children stay warm in the wintertime. Here are some tips to keep them comfortable and safe.

  • Store the seat indoors when not in use. This will keep children from being buckled into the cold seat.
  • Dress your child in thin layers. Instead of the one large puffy coat opt for long sleeve sweaters and a thicker fabric jacket.
  • Accessorize! Hats, scarves, gloves, and thick socks all help to keep children warm without interfering with the car seat straps or harness.
  • Double-check the car seat straps. Your child may look secure but test it to be sure. Extra layers of clothing can make it difficult to tell if they’re strapped in correctly. 
  • Take off the coat and put it on backward over the harness.
  • Use a blanket. Remove the puffy coat and drape the blanket over the harness/ straps. This will keep them cozy without putting them at risk. But make sure it’s not tucked in too tight. The child should be able to remove it if they get too warm after the car heats up. 

Final Thoughts

Winter weather can be very uncomfortable. Carseats and coats come with risks. Children shouldn’t be wearing puffy coats in car seats since it lowers the effectiveness of the car seat. With more unstable road conditions and a higher likelihood of accidents, it’s especially important during winter that children are secured. There are a number of alternatives to consider when heading out. Either leave the puffy coat behind or take it off and use something else over the harness. 

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Children