Winter Car Seat Safety

I know I’ve posted about this before and here I am again. Car seat safety is one of my passions. Most carseats are installed incorrectly and/or used incorrectly. During winter it is really easy to make a common mistake, putting your infant, toddler or child in their car seat with a jacket on. This is a big HUGE NO NO. What’s the big deal you ask? I’m just trying to keep my kids warm! While keeping our kids warm is very important, making sure they are safe in their car seat is more important. You can keep your child warm AND safe by taking an extra few seconds to remove their jacket before you strap them into their car seat.

We know the shoulder straps need to be tight enough that you can no pinch the straps near your child’s shoulder. If you’d like more information on that, please click here. When a child wears a winter jacket in their car seat, the straps need to be adjusted to accommodate the extra bulk. In the event of a crash, the straps compress on the child’s body and the jacket compresses down leaving dangerous slack in the car seats straps. When this happens (the force of the crash compressing the jacket) the straps are no longer tight and safe and can cause minor or major injuries to the child, including, but not limited to, being ejected from the car seat.

This is my soon to be 3 year old without a jacket, her straps are nice and tight. There is no slack.

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This is Bunny with a jacket on. Its not a very thick or big jacket, in fact it is a size 12 month jacket that she can still fit into. Her straps are tightened. She looks pretty secure right?

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I have removed her jacket but did not adjust the shoulder straps. This is how loose her shoulder straps were when she was wearing a jacket. This is definitely NOT SAFE.

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Look at all that slack! If we were in a car accident with Bunny’s straps this loose, I have no doubt she would be injured.

I have retightened Bunny’s straps. This looks MUCH better!

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We are lucky to live in a mild climate, it doesn’t snow and rarely gets to be super cold where we need heavy jackets. It is very easy for me to have Bunny wear a light jacket, remove it when we are at the car, then turn up the heater. Bunny is almost 3, Baby Sister is 9 months old. I want to make sure my babies are safe and warm when we are in the car. I layer Baby Sister’s clothing, a onsie, baby legs, socks and on top of that I put on a warm one piece outfit. This eliminates the need for a bulky jacket. On the days when Baby Sister is not wearing a warm outfit on top, I put a blanket around her. She is still in her infant seat which makes it easy for me to strap her in while we are in the house, wrap a blanket around her after she is strapped in and carry her to the car. I keep a blanket in the car for Bunny. We dash out to the car, get buckled then tuck a blanket around her. This keeps her car seat straps tight and safe, and keeps her warm.

Here is an article by consumerreports.org on the danger of winter coats when used in a car seat.

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