Now that we are about to enter the winter season, most parents are thinking about ways to help their children warm in the car seat without compromising on safety. Winter coats and snowsuits come in handy during this season, but the American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) warns parents that they are dangerous to use while buckling kids in their car seats. This is because the fluffy padding flattens out from impact during a car crash, leaving lots of slack underneath the harness. The baby can then slip from the loose straps and be thrown out from the seat.
If you want to find out safe ways to keep your child warm in the car seat, here are some tips:
10 Tips to keep baby warm in the car seat
1. Use a blanket
Instead of wearing a fluffy coat, use a large blanket to wrap around your child and then buckle them up. Kids always have that special blanket that they adore, and we are sure if you use it, they will be less likely to be a fuss.
2. Try a fleece coat
If it is freezing cold outside and toasty warm in your car, your baby might overheat. Coats made of fleece are a great option as they do not have lots of padding underneath the harness straps. And when worn unzipped, they provide an even better fit than a winter coat.
3. Tighten the car seat harness straps
If you dress your child with multiple layers with the coats, it might make it difficult to get the harness straps tight enough. The harness should be tightened to provide a snug fit against your child’s chest. If you can pinch the harness straps, it is an indication you still need to tighten up some more.
4. Wear coat backward
This is another simple idea that you can use. You buckle your child and then place their winter coat over them backward, while already buckled up. Some parents also opt for coats that zip down the sides so that the back can flip forward over the harness or poncho-style coats.
5. Use thin layers
Layering helps to keep the body warm, and blankets provide a smooth coating to wrap around your baby when you leave the house. It is also easy to remove when your child gets into the car or if the interior temperature rises to prevent overheating.
6. Turn up the heat
When it’s freezing cold, just turn up the heat to make your car warm and comfortable for everyone that is riding.
7. Strike the right balance of layers and your car’s interior temperatures
During cold weather, it is normal to worry if your child is warm enough, which might cause you to overdress, leading to your child. When this happens, your child may end up overheating and becoming uncomfortable. By dressing your child with just enough layers and adjusting your car’s interior temperature, you can keep your child comfortable during car rides.
8. Use a suitable car seat cover
You may choose a seat cover but ensure that it doesn’t have layers under the baby. Remember, nothing bulky should ever be placed between your child’s body and the harness straps. Also, ensure that the baby’s face is not covered by fabric to allow airflow and prevent rebreathing stale air, which can cause suffocation. You should be keen because many retailers sell car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in a car seat.
9. Consider getting a car seat that has features for cold weather
If you live in places where it’s normally cold, you might need to consider buying a car seat with all-weather features to help keep your baby warm and comfortable.
10. Keep an emergency bag in your car
You may want to pack extra blankets and clothing like hats, mittens, and gloves in your car just in case you will ever need them. You never know when a nasty mess might happen or in case your child gets their clothes wet from the chilly weather. With a spare set, you will still be able to keep your child dry, warm, and cozy.
Are car seat blankets safe?
Yes, you can wrap a blanket around your child as a top layer over the harness to provide warmth and block out the wind. And if your baby is using an infant car seat, cocoon-style covers may be a better option.
Can a baby wear a snowsuit in a car seat?
No, you should not buckle your child in their seat while they are in a snowsuit. The fluffy padding of the snowsuit would flatten from the crash force, leaving your child loosely strapped and prone to slipping out of their seat during a crash.
Can a baby wear a blanket in the car seat?
Yes, you can wrap a blanket around your baby and then buckle them in for warmth. Blankets are safe to use underneath the harness because they do not have fluffy padding that may prevent you from tightening the harness straps snuggly around your child to keep her secure in case of a crash.
Car seat friendly coats for baby
Made from TNF high pile fleece, this hoodie is super soft and warm. It is also very light, making it safe to use in a car seat. It is available in infant and toddler sizes.
This coat is soft and warm with a puffy outer layer. It has a frontal zipper that allows you full access to secure the harness while eliminating the puffy layers between the seat and the child’s body. The front thinner layer is designed to prevent harness straps and buckles from slipping and is also marked to help you know the correct chest clip positions when using this coat. It is available for children between 12 months to 6 months.
Available for babies from 6 months to 4 years, this coat provides additional warmth and allows you to buckle your child in a five-point harness for as long as possible. It is made of wind and water-resistant outer fabric and a warmer fleece lining on the inside. The coat has a side zipper, and hook and loop closures at the shoulders that allow you to secure the harness without the bulk of the coat getting in the way. Once the harness is tightened, the front panel closes back over the harness to keep your child warm. The coat is available in variations of blue, pink, and grey colors.
This jacket has only one layer of fleece, so it doesn’t have the extra bulk that you find in winter jackets. The bear ears make your baby look so cute and cuddly all winter. If the weather is really cold, you might need to add an extra layer to keep your baby warm.
This poncho coat is perfect for keeping your child warm as it has two layers of thick fleece and a water-resistant top layer. Its panels go over the harness and buckles, so they do not interfere or prevent you from tightening the harness. The back panel can be flipped over the headrest to avoid bulkiness on the back, while the front panel spreads over your child’s body for warmth. It comes in one size that fits children between 6 months to 6 years old. It is so cute for a boy or girl and will go with any outfit.
These are made of thick fleece, making them very warm and have a snug fit on your child’s body, so they are 100 % safe to use in a car seat. We love that they come in a ton of color options, and the price point is fantastic. These jackets are available in sizes from 3 months up to adulthood and are suitable for both boys and girls.
How to bundle up baby in winter
To dress your baby for warmth during chilly winter days, start with body-hugging clothing on the bottom like tights or leggings or a long-sleeved bodysuit. Then add regular pants and a warm top, like a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. You can also add a fleece jacket over the top. And when it is bitterly cold, long underwear is also a warm and safe layering option.
As a general rule, babies should always be dressed in one extra layer than adults. This means if you have a coat on, your baby will need a coat and blanket. Just remember to remove the extra layers of thick coats and blankets once your child gets inside the car before sitting in their car seat.
Jane Lanbert is a mother of two and works as an elementary school teacher. Jane joined Motherhood HQ to provide expertise on product testing after her stint at Consumer Reports. Jane loves reading and getting immersed in new research on various topics from parenting to pet psychology. When not reading or testing baby gear to review, Jane enjoys hiking in the midwest and hanging out with their two dog pets. Jane is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, and holds a degree in Elementary Teaching. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org