winter coats and car seatsMany Parents asked why they should not use winter coats in a car seat?

Dr. Leah Alexander did extensive research to answer this important question to our dear carseatsmom readers.

Winter is approaching, which means it is time to dress warmly for outdoor activities.

As you prepare for this weather, you layer on the heavier onesies, sweaters, coats, and hats. Then, putting your child into the carseat requires you to remove a layer. You look at your little one, very warm and cozy, and think, “Do I really need to take the coat off? “Is this really necessary?” In reality, it is. Read further and you will understand why it is much safer to take the coat off.

Why Are Heavy Coats Unsafe? 

Bulky Winter Coats and Car SeatsThe primary issue of bulky coats and clothing is that they prevent carseat harnesses from properly securing your infant or child.

These straps remain unexpectedly loose because of the coat. According to the AAP:

“In a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space in the harness. A child can slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.” 

When in a carseat, straps and clips should lie flat against the chest. The chest clip should be at the armpit level (source). Straps should be tight but comfortable for your child. 

The AAP Recommendations 

The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, provides more specific age and height recommendations for carseat use: 

  • Birth to Age 4 Rear-facing, infant carseat (under 35lbs) 
  • Age 4 to seat weight Forward-facing convertible or harness carseat limit (35-60lbs) 
  • Ages 8-12 Booster seat Height under 4’9” 
  • Ages 13 and up Seatbelt only Height at least 4’9 

Take a look at this link for their helpful charts and diagrams 

How To Choose & Proper Installation 

They also provide information on how to choose and properly install a carseat:

It is important to note that all infants and toddlers should be kept rear-facing
at least until the age of 2.

Crash test studies reveal an increased risk of spinal cord injuries among this age group during accidents when in a forward-facing carseat.

In November 2018, the AAP updated their policy to state “rear-facing until the age of 4” if possible:

Because laws may vary in your state, it is best to consult your local authorities to determine when to transition your child to the next stage of carseat.

Carseat Safety & Laws 

First, let’s discuss a bit about carseats. Carseats for infants and children have come a long way since laws were passed requiring their use in 1985.

Recommendations on which type of seat to use varies by age, weight and height.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Committee offers some basic recommendations:

  • Infants Rear-facing, infant carseat 
  • Toddlers Forward-facing carseat with a harness and tether 
  • Grade School Children Booster seat 
  • Older Children Seatbelt only 

How do I Know Which Coats Are Safe? 

It may be obvious that bulky down coats and snowsuits will not fit well in a carseat.

You may be wondering, however, if a fleece onesie or lighter jacket would be ok.

Bestseller No. 1
Kids Car Seat Poncho Gray Arrows Reversible Warm Blanket Safe Use...
135 Reviews
Kids Car Seat Poncho Gray Arrows Reversible Warm Blanket Safe Use...
  • SAFE CAR COAT: SAFE, crash tested in a crash testing facility, surpassing safety NHTSA standards,...
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  • FITS: One Size, the poncho fits kids 6 months to 5 years old, in car seat or walkers, and grows with...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Birdy Boutique Kids Car Seat Poncho Lumberjack Deer Reversible...
79 Reviews
Birdy Boutique Kids Car Seat Poncho Lumberjack Deer Reversible...
  • SAFE CAR COAT: SAFE, crash tested in a crash testing facility, surpassing safety NHTSA standards,...
  • QUICK: This women & veteran owned small business made sure you'd save time getting in and out of the...
  • FITS: One Size, the poncho fits kids 6 months to 5 years old, in car seat or walkers, and grows with...
SaleBestseller No. 3
birdyboutique.com Mermaid Floral Car Seat Poncho for Girls...
58 Reviews
birdyboutique.com Mermaid Floral Car Seat Poncho for Girls...
  • SAFE CAR COAT: SAFE, crash tested in a crash testing facility, surpassing safety NHTSA standards,...
  • QUICK: This women & veteran owned small business made sure you'd save time getting in and out of the...
  • FITS: One Size, the poncho fits kids 6 months to 5 years old, in car seat or walkers, and grows with...
Bestseller No. 4
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  • Kids ponchos for 0-2 years olds, and for baby aren't height higher than 100cm/39.4", ponchos for...
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Bestseller No. 5
Buckle Me Baby Coat - Safer Car Seat Boys Winter Jacket - Deepest...
  • Safer baby and toddler winter coat for use in car seats; award-winning design; ingenious solution to...
  • Side zipper and hook & loop closures at the shoulders enable you to move the entire front panel and...
  • Getting child out of car seat is just as easy; more importantly, no need to struggle in the confines...

Consumer Reports developed a “Puffy Coat Check” to help parents determine if their child is safe. They recommend:

Step 1

Put the coat on your child, sit him or her in the car seat, and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the webbing with your thumb and forefinger.

Step 2
Without loosening the harness at all, unhook it, and remove your child from the car seat.

Take the coat off, put your child back in the car seat, and buckle the harness straps, which should be adjusted just as they were when the child was wearing the coat.

Step 3
If you can pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger now, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness. 

You may want to try this test before assuming that a lighter coat is safe enough. Take a look at this consumer Reports video 

In general, however, Consumer Reports agrees with the medical authorities: removing the coat is safer. 

It’s Cold Outside! Now What? 

You may have noticed a variety of products on the market with claims stating they are a “safe winter coat” option for carseats. Once such option is Buckle Me Coats.

Bestseller No. 1
Buckle Me Baby Coat - Safer Car Seat Boys Winter Jacket - Deepest...
  • Safer baby and toddler winter coat for use in car seats; award-winning design; ingenious solution to...
  • Side zipper and hook & loop closures at the shoulders enable you to move the entire front panel and...
  • Getting child out of car seat is just as easy; more importantly, no need to struggle in the confines...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Azhido Baby Cotton Double-Side Wear Hoodie Cape Printed Outer...
15 Reviews
Azhido Baby Cotton Double-Side Wear Hoodie Cape Printed Outer...
  • Comfortable cotton outwear Jacket for little girls
  • Long sleeves,flower print pattern,fleece inside
  • Thicken winter warm poncho for kids of 1-3 years
Bestseller No. 3
Kirkland Signature Ladies' Trench Coat (Medium, Charcoal)
  • Waterproof
  • Breathable and Wind Resistant
  • Detachable Zip Hood
Bestseller No. 4
Carseat Poncho for Kids, Child Poncho with Hood, Frog Hood Cape...
  • Kids ponchos for 0-2 years olds, and for baby aren't height higher than 100cm/39.4", ponchos for...
  • Girls and Boys poncho, fleece hooded poncho kids, carseat coats for toddlers, car seat coat,...
  • Carseat ponchos, wool ponchos, poncho toddler girl, wool poncho, carseat coat toddler, toddler...

I have not, however, found a single product that has been endorsed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Both government and medical authorities all agree that bulky coats and carseats are a bad combination.

Instead, the consensus is to use a blanket or the heavy winter coat draped over the car seat once your infant is secured inside.

Adding a hat and mittens provides additional warmth. Blankets should NOT be wrapped around the baby or tucked under the harness in any way[Mayo Clinic]

Bestseller No. 1
N'Ice Caps Little Kids and Baby Easy-On Sherpa Lined Fleece...
594 Reviews
N'Ice Caps Little Kids and Baby Easy-On Sherpa Lined Fleece...
  • EASY TO PUT ON AND STAYS ON: The mittens are designed with elastic in the wrist area, which widens...
  • WARM AND COMFORTABLE: N’Ice Caps fleece materials are selected for softness and comfort, and are...
  • 2 PAIRS IN EACH PACK! With 2 pairs in each pack, you can keep one pair clipped to your child's...
Bestseller No. 2
6 Pairs Winter Warm Knitted Mittens Gloves Stretch Mittens for...
53 Reviews
6 Pairs Winter Warm Knitted Mittens Gloves Stretch Mittens for...
  • Package includes: each package comes with 6 pairs of winter knit gloves in different colors, the...
  • Material: these mini gloves are made of acrylic and spandex with strong elasticity, flexible and...
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Bestseller No. 3
PZLE Kids Knit Mittens Winter Cashmere Warm Stretch 4 Pairs Grey...
  • Made of pashmina and polyester blended material, soft, warm and comfortable.
  • Two size: 16cm fits most 3 to 6 yrs, 18cm fits most 6 to 10 yrs
  • Warm yet breathable pashmina knit outer layer keeps kids' hands warm and toasty
Bestseller No. 4
12 Pairs Toddler Knitted Gloves Stretch Full Finger Mittens...
  • Toddler gloves utility: all kinds of lovely colors can cover the baby's whole hands to prevent him...
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  • Elastic and soft: soft and elastic gloves suitable for baby's skin, with enough elasticity to...
Bestseller No. 5
MCTi Kids Mittens Waterproof Winter Ski Warm Sherpa Lined Long...
241 Reviews
MCTi Kids Mittens Waterproof Winter Ski Warm Sherpa Lined Long...
  • Super Warmth Lined: Insulated with lightweight thick sherpa fleece to keep hands super warm and dry...
  • Durable Water-Repellent Nylon Fabric: It is water-resistant and wear resistant for any outdoor snow...
  • Non-slip PU Palm: Full PU gripper on the palm and fingers. The quality is approved as imported...

The AAP offers additional tips for keeping your little one warm AND safe(Source)

Blanket In The Best Solution 

So, as you prepare for enjoying fun winter activities, remember carseat safety. Skip the heavy coat, and bring a blanket to drape over him or her instead.

SaleBestseller No. 1
JJ Cole Original Bundleme Bunting Bag, Canopy Style, Graphite
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JJ Cole Original Bundleme Bunting Bag, Canopy Style, Graphite
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SaleBestseller No. 2
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JJ Cole - Urban Bundleme, Canopy Style Bunting Bag to Protect...
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  • BLANKETS NOT REQUIRED: Keep your baby warm and cozy with a luxuriously soft Thermaplush interior and...
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Bestseller No. 4
CLOMAY Newborn Baby Swaddle Blanket, Soft Thick Baby Kids Toddler...
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Last update on 2020-08-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API