Brace yourselves, winter is coming! That means us parents have to keep our kiddos bundled up as we head out into the Arctic, but wait! Before you put your precious cargo in their car seat with those thick coats on or in their infant carrier with the Bundle Me or Cuddle Bag there are a few safety concerns you should be aware of! Many winter accessories can affect how a child fits in a seat which could then alter the fit of the straps. In an accident if the straps aren’t properly secured ejection is possible.
Many people use the bunting style covers like the Bundle Me and Cuddle Bags for infant carriers because of their convenience. The back of these buntings are bulky and go between baby and seat. Nothing more than a single layer of fleece should be put between a child and their car seat because it could lead to a false fit (Unless approved by the manufacturer). These style covers also require the harness to be threaded through the back to secure it. When threading the harness it usually won’t match up with the location of the cover slots causing twisting of the straps which can also cause malfunction.
Another important point is that these are after market products. When reading your manual, which you should always do, you will see somewhere, probably in bright red or yellow, it states not to use after market products with your seat. The main reason for this is they have not been crash tested by the manufacturer or some products have been tested but did not pass. You can always call the 1-800 number in your manual and check with the manufacturer directly about a product!
If you don’t have any type of cover or have a child in a convertible or booster seat where covers aren’t an option your most likely go to in the winter is a coat or snow suite, but these too pose a safety risk like the bunting style covers by interfering with the tightness of the harness if too thick. If you aren’t sure if a coat or suite is safe for you child’s seat try this:
- Put the coat or suite on the child and fasten them in their seat making sure the harness fits as best as possible with chest clip at armpit level.
- Take the child out of the car seat without loosening or adjusting the harness.
- Remove the coat and then put the child back in the car seat.
- Fasten them in again, but this time do not tighten the harness!
If you have to tighten it for the proper fit the coat is too thick and is not safe.
If you own a bag style cover one way to make it safe is to cut the back out. I wouldn’t recommend you buy one just to chop it up, but if you have already spent the money and can’t return it this is a simple solution. If you can spend money on a new cover or have yet to buy one I would recommend the “shower cap” style like a Cozy Cover or Jolly Jumper Sneek-a-peak. These go over top of the seat similar to a shower cap and don’t interfere with any of the seats mechanics. I received the Sneek-a-peak as a gift and I absolutely loved it! It kept Harri so warm on the cold snowy day, and it wasn’t a hassle putting it on and off.
*If you have a bunting style cover it can be used in strollers!
Single layer fleece jackets are another great, safe option for a child in any seat, but depending on where you live you might want something a little warmer or simpler. Ponchos are a great alternative! The poncho simply drapes around the seat keeping your child warm underneath. If you’re crafty you can make them, or if you’re like me and lacking those domestic skills you can purchase The Car Seat Poncho.
One option that might be a little easier for those with older children is simply having them remove the coat before getting in their seat, buckling up, and wearing the coat backwards atop the straps (think Snuggie style)!
These are just a few ideas on how to keep your child safe and warm in the car this winter! I hope they were of use to someone, somewhere. Remember, always read your manual and kiss your baby goodnight!
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