Mighty Blog

Winter car seat guidelines: Remove winter jackets before putting kids in car seats

The cold and snow have arrived in the Midwest. That means bundling up your kids to stay warm this season. However, dressing your child in a puffy winter coat while in their car seat may be dangerous.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as a general rule, bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of the car seat. Layering your child in thick or puffy coats before getting in the vehicle can actually cause the car seat to not work properly.

Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, talked with KARE 11 about car seat safety in the winter.

“If you’ve got a really bulky jacket or coat on, you don’t know where that strap is, which could mean the strap is over the child’s arm and they could physically slide through,” Dr. Chawla said.

This is especially important if you get in a car accident. Kids can be injured by a “second impact” by slamming into the straps of the car seat that aren’t properly secured, she said.

“Winter coats can create a gap between the child and their car seat strap, and that gap can cause an injury during a crash when the child slams into it,” said Dr. Chawla.

Dr. Chawla provides tips to keep your child safe in a car seat this winter:

  • Use thin layers: Dress your child in thin layers instead of thick ones.
  • You can still keep them warm: Even without a bulky winter jacket, you can keep your children warm in their car seat. Put their jacket on backward but don’t zip it up in the back. Also, bring blankets in the car and lay it over their lap or on top of their body once secured.
  • Warm up the car first: You can start your car before getting into it. This will warm up the car and lessen the need to dress your child in their winter coat.
  • Fit the car seat snug: It’s really important to make sure the car seat fits really snuggly. With a gap or lose fit, your child could be in danger.

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued updated guidelines for car seat safety during all seasons of the year. Read more about keeping kids safe on the road year-round.

Alexandra Rothstein