Proper Use of Baby Coats in Car Seats

Avoiding Injuries from Coat Compression

Mother Putting Son in Car Seat
A mother straps her son into a car seat.. Fuse/Getty Images

Did you know that baby coats can interfere with how well your child is restrained in the car seat? It's important to know how to keep your baby safe and warm as you travel on the highway in winter months. These tips will give you peace of mind.

Baby Coats and Coat Compression

Heather Corley, our guide to baby products and certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), has detailed the dangers of coat compression.

Through interviews, research, and shocking accident accounts, Heather offers evidence on how heavy winter coats and snow suits can keep your child from staying in the car seat harness.

The force of impact causes the air in a coat to compress, which has been shown to contribute to some children being ejected from their car seat despite harness straps remaining secured. A harness needs to be close to your baby's body, and many layers or puffy fabric can prevents this, which compromises the safety of the seat.

Heather offers seven safety checks for your winter coats and winter car seat accessories, like Bundle Me's and car seat covers.

Help Prevent Coat Compression

One of the easiest ways to continue to use heavy baby coats in car seats is to simply strap your baby in the car seat without wearing her jacket. Once she is secured in the harness, place the coat on backwards over top the harness.

However, in particularly frigid climates, this may not be practical.

Alternatively, you could try this method:

  1. Put your baby in her winter coat, and unzip the jacket.
  2. Place her in her car seat and put the harness over her shoulders, but do not connect the straps.
  3. Pull the bottom ends of the coat free from beneath the harness.
  4. Fasten the harness clips so that they are over top your child's clothing, but beneath the layer of the coat. Be sure that chest clip is fastened at arm-pit level.
  1. Zip your baby's coat over the harness.

It is important to realize that although this method does decrease the amount of material that comes between your baby's body and her car seat, you still have the back of the coat under the harness.

As you think about the safety of your child's car seat, you may also want to check out these articles:

Browse tips for finding less expensive car seats.

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