This post was featured on The Lil' Mamas Blog
It's that time of year again! It's freaking cold outside and we have to figure out how to keep our little ones warm AND safe in their car seats while we are out and about.
The main rules for strapping your child into her seat still apply in the winter so lets start there.
1. The chest clip needs to be at nipple/armpit level.
2. The straps need to be untwisted and TIGHT. They need to be tight enough so that you cannot pinch any slack between your fingers.
This is where winter complicates things. If a child is strapped into his seat while wearing his winter coat, the straps will not be tight enough to keep him safely in the seat in the event of a crash. Snow suits and winter coats that are thicker than a fleece jacket or a sweater are too bulky to wear under the straps of the seat. In the event of an accident, the coat will compress leaving the straps too loose. Here's a video example of how loose straps become when a coat is compressed.
I'm a little embarrassed to share this but I actually let Q ride in the car like this one time before I knew better! I thought that because the suit had a pass through for the crotch buckle that it was OK to use in the car. I didn't think about how loose I had to make the straps to buckle her in!
So how are you supposed to keep your kids warm AND safe?
1. Warm up the car before you put them in. Let it run with the heat full blast while you herd them out the door. You'll be more comfortable too!
2. Layer a fleece or sweater under the winter coat so your child is still warm when you take the coat off. Take the heavy coat off when you get to the car, buckle the child in and then she can use the heavy coat either as a lap blanket or some kids like to put the coat on backwards. Children's Place 3 in 1 coats are my favorite because because they have a thin, warm under layer that easily combines with the heavier outer layer to create a great coat for playing outside.
3. Keep lap blankets in the car for your kids. My older daughter asks for a blanket every trip, even when it's not that cold, because she likes to be snuggly warm in the car.
4. Buy or make a car seat poncho. You strap them in under the poncho and there is no material between the child and the seat. I made them for my girls this year and I'm in love. My 13 month old daughter wears it from the house to the car, then in car, and then from the car into preschool to drop off her big sister. She is so toasty warm under the poncho that I warm my hands under it while I carry her.
If you don't sew, you could easily just take a fleece blanket, cut a hole in it and and put it over the child in the car. You don't NEED a hood, it's just handy for little ones who like to take off hats!
5. For younger babies you can use a car seat cover that fits over the outside of the seat. Do NOT use a cover that puts a layer of fabric between your baby and the seat. Those covers interfere with how the straps fit the baby and, in many cases, putting any after market product between your baby and the seat will void the warranty of the seat. Don't do it!
That's pretty much it! Stay warm and stay safe this winter!