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 Toddler Boy Blanket Lumberjack Deer...
186 Reviews
Kids Car Seat Poncho Toddler Boy Blanket Lumberjack Deer...
  • 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. 2
Kids Car Seat Poncho Boy Safe Coat Black Puffer Toddler Kids Down...
  • SAFE CAR COAT: This carseat poncho, hooded blanket, is safe, crash tested in a crash testing...
  • QUICK: This women & veteran owned small business made sure you'd save time getting in and out of the...
  • FITS: One Size, poncho fits kids 6 months to 6 years old, in car seat or walkers, and grows with...
Bestseller No. 3
Car Seat Poncho Toddler Boy Blanket Green Dinosaur Warm Safe Use...
213 Reviews
Car Seat Poncho Toddler Boy Blanket Green Dinosaur Warm Safe Use...
  • 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
Kids Car Seat Poncho Gray Arrows Reversible Warm Blanket Safe Use...
307 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,...
  • 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. 5
pureborn Baby Hooded Carseat Poncho Cape Cloak Fleece Coat...
  • Outer material:100% Cotton; Lining: Fleece; soft and cozy, keeps baby warm in cold winter
  • Classic plaid design,both sides of clothes have buttons, can be worn as coats or poncho
  • Suitable for winter(32-41℉)The hoodie cape is made of high quality fabric and excellent...

Last update on 2020-10-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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
Baby Toddler Girls Fall Winter Trench Coat Wind Hooded Jacket...
283 Reviews
Baby Toddler Girls Fall Winter Trench Coat Wind Hooded Jacket...
  • Elegant princess style outwear cold-proof outfit
  • Material: cotton+polyester,soft, warm, and comfortable
  • Occasion: casual party formal birthday
Bestseller No. 3
Baby Cotton Double-side Wear Hoodie Cape Printed Outer Wear Coat...
  • 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. 4
Columbia Unisex Baby Infant Double Trouble Jacket, Super Blue...
  • Water resistant fabric
  • Insulated 100gsm. Reverses to microfleece.
  • Reverses to microfleece
Bestseller No. 5
Jojobaby Baby Boys Girls Hooded Snowsuit Winter Warm Fur Collar...
812 Reviews
Jojobaby Baby Boys Girls Hooded Snowsuit Winter Warm Fur Collar...
  • Popular Style! 100% brand-new & Top Quality! Free Shipping ! (size is comparably larger, so I...
  • Material: Cotton Blend,Faux Fur,Comforfable and Warm,windproof and keep warm.
  • Concealed zipper closure with snap placket, Slanted side handwarmer pockets.

Last update on 2020-10-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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
Set of 3 Kids' Sherpa Lined Knit Mittens, Blue Stripe+Khaki...
  • Stripe Style Fits toddlers/children ages 6T to 8T, and other styles(including solid style, fair isle...
  • Warm yet breathable acrylic knit outer layer keeps kids' hands warm and toasty
  • Available in a variety of adorable knits and patterns to match all your little ones' winter wear
Bestseller No. 2
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...
Bestseller No. 3
Magic Stretch Winter Mittens for Boys, Kids & Children - 3 Pack...
  • NO MORE COLD FINGERS - Little fingers will be warmed up by these knitted mittens. Pull them on for...
  • EASY PULL-ON MITTENS - 95% Acrylic / 5% Spandex for maximum flexibility, allowing your kid to pull...
  • CUTE AND SUPER-COOL DESIGNS - Your little dude will be happy to wear fuzzy mitten gloves decorated...
Bestseller No. 4
Lined Fleece Toddler Mittens Kids Winter Warm Gloves Child Ski...
  • SUPER MATERIAL MITTENS: Baby fleece gloves made of high-quality acrylic fiber, super soft and...
  • COLOR AND SIZE: Lined fleece toddler mittens include five colors and three sizes. Pattern colors...
  • UNIQUE DESIGN: The baby gloves are designed with cute animals and some bright colors, which can...
Bestseller No. 5
3 Pairs Kids Winter Mittens Kids Windproof Fleece Warm Gloves...
  • Soft material: these kids gloves are made of fleece and polyester, designed with good texture and...
  • Adjustable style: the hook and loop design can keep the cold air out of your gloves and you can...
  • Thumb design: the thumb part of the gloves is separated with other fingers which allows your child's...

Last update on 2020-10-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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.

Bestseller No. 1
JJ Cole Original Bundleme Bunting Bag, Canopy Style, Graphite
652 Reviews
JJ Cole Original Bundleme Bunting Bag, Canopy Style, Graphite
  • BUNDLEME BUNTING BAG: Baby can enjoy maximum warmth wrapped in plush inner shearling with a...
  • STABLE DESIGN:  Removable top allows for easy temperature control to keep your little one...
  • Comes with multiple styles with distinct colors and patterns
Bestseller No. 2
JJ Cole Car Seat Cover, Teal Fractal
2,356 Reviews
JJ Cole Car Seat Cover, Teal Fractal
  • BABY PROTECTION: Stretch over your baby carrier or standard-sized stroller to protect your baby from...
  • BLANKET STYLE DESIGN: Weather-resistant nylon deflects wind and light rain; Soft fleece and a...
  • TEMPERATURE CONTROL: Fits onto toddler carrier and standard-sized baby strollers with an elasticized...
Bestseller No. 3
Skip Hop Winter Car Seat Cover: Ultra Plush Fleece, Grey Feather
  • Universal Fit Elastic Car Seat Cover Features Soft Fabric For Baby's Comfort And Warmth
  • Ultra-plush Fleece Collar Flips Open And Securely Snaps To Outer Layer
  • Collar Snaps Closed For Extra Warmth While Framing Baby's Head
Bestseller No. 4
MoMika Swaddling Blanket | I'ts Perfect Road Coat I Bunting Bag I...
133 Reviews
MoMika Swaddling Blanket | I'ts Perfect Road Coat I Bunting Bag I...
  • ✭ CONVENIENCE - simplicity of use: facilitates leaving the house - it replaces several pieces of...
  • ✭ FUNCTIONALITY: an up-down slider system allows you to adjust the blanket to any type of child...
  • ✭ PROTECTION: strings ensure a lasting closing of the cover even when the child is kicking; welts...
Bestseller No. 5
JJ Cole - Urban Bundleme, Canopy Style Bunting Bag to Protect...
426 Reviews
JJ Cole - Urban Bundleme, Canopy Style Bunting Bag to Protect...
  • BLANKETS NOT REQUIRED: Keep your baby warm and cozy with a luxuriously soft Thermaplush interior and...
  • WEATHER READY: The removable top and detachable hood allow for easy temperature control to keep your...
  • REFINED STYLE: Fits most infant carriers; Choose between multiple styles of stylish colors and...

Last update on 2020-10-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Author

Leah Alexander, M.D is a graduate of Kalamazoo College and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and is board certified in General Pediatrics. She completed her Pediatric residency at Overlook and Morristown Memorial Hospitals of New Jersey.

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