What You Need To Know About Car Seat Safety During The Colder Months

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winter safety car seat

Credit: iStock / Vagengeym_Elena

We take car seat safety very seriously around here! There’s no better line of defense against tragedy on the road than proper car seat installation and usage. Despite all the information out there on the topic, it’s not practiced as regularly as it should be! And wintertime is one time of year where we see the most issues with car seat safety. When the temperature drops and we bust out the coats, it can be a real problem with car seats. We want to keep our kiddos warm, of course. But most importantly, we want to keep them safe. It’s so important, especially given how treacherous road conditions can be during the winter! There are some precautions we need to take with car seats in cold weather. We could all use a cold weather car seat safety refresher course!

There are absolutely ways to keep your kids warm AND safe in their car seats during the winter. It’s not an either/or situation! By taking some extra care when dressing our kids before heading out, and keeping the car stocked with blankets for layering, we can avoid making some potentially dangerous car seat mistakes. And we’re certainly not calling anyone out, here. These are mistakes we’ve all made at one point or another. But when we know better, we do better, right?

The most important thing to remember about cold weather car seat safety: puffy coats and car seats DON’T MIX.

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Haven’t bought your child’s winter coat yet? Perfect timing! Many coats and snowsuits aren’t safe for the car seat because they’re like air-filled sumo suits that release all their air in a crash, leaving the harness straps too loose when it most counts. Relax… no one is suggesting your kid wear a t-shirt and shorts in winter! We’ve got lots of suggestions for ways to keep kids WARM and SAFE in the car seat – check out for more than a dozen different ideas for all budgets. SHARE with a friend while you're at it – because knowledge is power, right! . . Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – some of these items look puffy BUT through innovative design they are safe for car seats. The 7AM Enfant Nido has a large oval hole in the back that allows you to put it on AFTER your child is buckled snug so there’s nothing interfering with the harness straps. The Road Coat has a double zipper in front and velcro flaps at the collar that allow the straps to be snug to your child’s body while the puffy down is over the straps to keep your child warm in the car. Genius, right! . . #warmandsafe #winterblues #carseatsafety #roadcoatdown

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While those puffy coats are super cute and keep your kids warm, they can create a lot of problems in a car seat. The issue is, the coats prevent straps from fitting properly. In the event of an accident, the force of the collision will compress the coats, creating enough space for a child to be thrown out of their harness. Those puffy coats essentially render car seat harnesses useless just when you need them to work the most.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use puffy coats at all, they’re great for the winter! But you should avoid putting them on your kids and then strapping them into their car seats. That also doesn’t mean your kids have to be freezing in their seats! With a little layering and some pre-planning, you can keep your kiddos warm and safe all winter long.

When it comes to cold weather car seat safety, layering is key.

cold weather car seat safety

Image: The Car Seat Lady

The Car Seat Lady knows all about car seat safety, and she has some tips for parents this winter. You’re better off layering your kiddos in warmer clothes and then wrapping a blanket around them once they’re buckled in safely. Use fleece leggings and pants, long-sleeve onesies, and tights. Don’t forget the gloves, socks, and hat! We lose a lot of body heat through our hands, feet, and heads. You can also put your children in tight-fitting fleece jackets or pullovers.

Once in the car, wrap a fleece blanket around them to keep them extra warm. This is actually a great idea, since it can easily be removed once your kiddo gets too hot. You might also consider keeping the car seat in the house overnight, so it stays warm. And keep a couple of thin fleece blankets in the car in case you forget one when you’re running out of the house.

Cold weather car seat safety is so important! Make sure you’re keeping your kiddos warm AND safe every time you hit the road this winter.

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