As the weather changes it is very tempting to have our children wear their jackets in the car seat. We want our children to be warm, but we also want them to be safe. Adding layers under our children’s car seat straps may help keep our children warm, but it will not keep them safe. When we add layers under the straps we are adding slack as well. Here is a graphic of my four-year-old in her car seat with her winter jacket on and the straps tightened, then what it looks like when I take the jacket off and put her back in the seat with the same tautness of straps. Too much slack in the harness means she will not be safe in a car crash.
With an infant seat that detaches from the base, it is easier to keep my baby and the car seat warm. I take the seat inside with me so it is warm when I put baby in before we leave the house. I also love the sun shade on the infant carriers; it helps to keep the rain, snow, and wind off baby. Blankets are a baby’s best friend for warmth. I like to tuck my baby into his infant seat. Then, after he is strapped in I wrap a blanket around him and tuck him in. This keeps him warm while also keeping his straps nice and snug.
Convertible Car Seat and Booster Seat
Once baby has outgrown their infant seat, you still have options to keep them warm and safe. Last year I purchased these jackets at Target. I really love them for the car seat! They are a two-piece system with an inner, lightweight jacket that CAN go under the car seat straps. The outer, thicker jacket can NOT go under the seat straps. But this jacket is great because I can bundle up my kiddos before we leave the house, walk/run to the car and take off their outer jacket while leaving the thinner, inner jacket on. This keeps them warm and safe in the car. I also keep a blanket for each child in the car. You never know when the temperature is going to drop! My two-year-old loves to be tucked in to her car seat with a blanket.
Another way to keep our babies safe while keeping them warm is dressing them in layers. Socks, leggings, thin jackets, and a long sleeve shirt under a short sleeve shirt. Don’t forget the gloves and hats, too. If your child does not like all these layers, a backwards jacket or a blanket works as well. There are car seat blankets and covers made to keep baby warm. Be sure not to purchase one with layers, no matter how small or thin, to place between your child and their car seat. Nothing should ever be in between your child’s body and their seat. A good car seat blanket or cocoon has a cutout for your child’s back so their body is directly against the seat. Also, nothing should ever go between your child’s clothes and the car seat straps.
The key to car seat safety is to remember that we want our children’s straps to always be tight with no slack. Thin layers, blankets, and backwards jackets are wonderful ways to keep our children both warm and safe. Happy holiday!