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Published on March 02, 2021

mom putting child in car seat during winter

Tips for Cold Weather Car Seat Safety

Keeping little ones safe is always a concern for parents. I remember being a new parent and feeling overwhelmed looking at all the snow suits, coats, buntings and car seat blankets at the store.

So if it is sold in the store it must be safe, right?

Actually most coats and car seat buntings that fit inside the car seat aren’t recommended. In a car crash, the fluffy clothing is compressed and that can leave space between the child and the harness. A child could then slip through straps and be thrown from the seat.

Great Ideas to Keep Kids Safe (and Warm)

So how can parents keep their children safe in the car while also keeping them warm? Here are some tips:

  • If your infant is still in a carrier style infant car seat, store the car seat in your home when not in use.
  • Dress your child in fitted thin layers. Start with a close-fitting layer such as tights, leggings bodysuits or long underwear. Next pants and a warmer top. Your child can also wear a thin fleece jacket over the top. As a general rule infants should have on one more layer than adults.
  • Hats, mittens, socks and shoes can also help keep your child warm without interfering with the safety of your car seat.
  • Make sure that straps are tight across child’s chest. You shouldn’t be able to pinch the straps.
  • Use a coat or blanket OVER the straps. You can put your child’s coat on backwards over the straps after he/she is buckled or put a blanket over the straps. Make sure the top layer is easily removable to keep the infant from over-heating once the car is heated up.
  • Do not use any kind of cover or bunting that has a layer under your baby. Also make sure baby’s face is uncovered.
  • Using extra car seat covers and buntings could interfere with the function of the car seat harness, and many car seat manufacturers will void your car seat warranty if after-market accessories are used.
  • Make sure you have an emergency winter bag in the car with extra snacks, dry clothing and extra blankets.
  • Warm up your car in the morning before you go.

Following these few easy tips can help keep little ones safe in the car during our cold Midwest winters.

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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