Winter coats are a necessary evil here in the Northeast. They’re essential for protecting baby from harsh weather, awesome for letting your toddler play outside without getting soaked and most of them are pretty darn cute. So what’s so evil about them?
Winter coats and infant or toddler car seats just do not mix. It’s a safety thing! The main cause of concern is that a child’s car seat straps are too loose (even though they may feel tight to you) when he or she is wearing a bulky jacket, which means the car seat will not work properly in an accident. How scary is that?!
There are two fixes to this – a short route and a long route:
1). The Coat/Strap Experiment (aka the long route)
* Bundle the baby up in his winter jacket and put him in the car seat.
* Fasten the car seat buckles, securing baby in the car seat like you’re ready to go, loosening the straps if needed to fit both him and the jacket.
* Unbuckle the car seat buckles without loosening the straps.
* Take his jacket off and put him back in the car seat.
* Fasten the car seat buckles (again, don’t loosen or tighten the straps). Determine if the baby is secure enough in the car seat without you tightening the straps? If not, the coat is too bulky for the car seat. If the baby is wearing a bulky coat in an accident and the straps are too loose to account for the bulkiness of the coat, your precious bundle could be ejected from the car seat leaving only the jacket behind. This has actually happened
2). The Bold and the Bare-tiful (aka the short route):
* Warm up your car a few minutes before departure.
* Forgo the coat for the car ride (bringing it along for your final destination).
* Dress the baby in a few layers, such as a short-sleeved onesie, a long-sleeved top or onesie, and a warm but not super thick sweater.
* Bring a blanket for baby’s legs or cudding.
I use the short route. In addition to the safety and simplicity of it, I’m worried that Felicity will overheat. I tend to blast the heat in the car so it’s nice and toasty and I don’t want her sweating baby beads. My husband and I are on different sides of the fence with this. He thinks she should be wearing a jacket in the car. This is when we have to compromise. I put Felicity in her lighter (read: much less thick) winter coat when we go out in his car and she’s bold and bare-tiful in my car.
The rule of thumb for a car seat is that the only thing that’s supposed to be in it is your baby. This means that if you decide to use one of those stylish car seat covers, opt for one that covers baby by fastening to the outside of the car seat and not one you need to secure underneath the straps.
If you have any questions or your own winter wear challenges/tips, please post them in the comment section below. Stay safe and warm!