Car Seat Safety: Does Your Baby Wear a Coat in the Car?


Every day, I put a pink puffy winter jacket on my baby girl and then I put her in her car seat, and we go on our merry way. The thought never even occurred to me that I could be putting her in jeopardy. In fact, I thought I was being a good mom by protecting her from the cold. But then I read the post Winter Coats and Car Seat Safety that bwsmommy put up in the 2007 Babies group, which basically said that winter coats and car seats do not mix.

I want my baby to be safe—and warm. What to do? I talked to momof2luvsshoes, a member of Safe Kids who is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, and mom to two little boys, to get the facts about winter coats and car seat safety.

Is there a law about coats and car seats?
There is no law regarding this but rather a rule of thumb. 

So then it's okay for my baby to wear her cute puffy pink jacket in her car seat?
I don't recommend that anyone wear a coat while in a vehicle. Coats are hot, uncomfortable, and they interfere with seat belts and harness straps in car seats.

But is it actually unsafe for my baby to wear a coat?
Yes. I have done tests with my children in their car seats—with and without coats. I firmly believe that no coat is best. An easy way to visualize what happens to a baby if they have a puffy coat on during a crash is to put the baby in the car seat with the winter coat on and buckle him in as usual. You will most likely have to loosen the straps to do so correctly. Now, take the baby out and put him back in the car seat without the coat but do not adjust the straps and buckle him in again. You'll see how loose those straps are—if in a crash, a coat would compress and could allow the child to become a projectile object by slipping through those loose harness straps.

That makes me nervous. I know you said that coats in cars can be hot, but I'm not so sure—it's really cold when we get in my car. I definitely want to keep my baby nice and safe. But I really want to keep her nice and warm too. Do you have any recommendations that will keep her safe and warm?
A thin fleece, a wind jacket, sweatshirt, simple layering as long as it cannot be compressed. There are now car seat ponchos on the market. Plus, it’s always best to keep extra blankets in your vehicle while traveling. It is completely safe to put a blanket on the child once he or she is secure in the car seat and tuck it in on the sides. Another option is to secure the child in the car seat and then put their coat on them backwards.

Those are great options. Thanks momof2luvsshoes!
Glad I could help out.

How about you? Does your baby wear a coat or jacket in his or her car seat?

Check back here and on the other parenting channels all this week for more info on car seats.

This information is intended as general guidance—you should read your auto and car seat manuals, and consult a certified technician if possible, for the proper use and installation of your child’s passenger seat.

car seat safety


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babyb... babyboomboom

NOPE my son wears a thin fleece jacket.  Coats are not safe!

jess_... jess_buckley

I warm up my car before the kids get in. They wear their coats to the car then take them off before getting buckled in. I've never buckled them in with their coats on. It's just common sense to me.

Logan... Logansmommy81

i have heard not to put them in the carseat w/ a heavy coat on, but i didn't understand why.  now that i do, i will probably not put him in w/ the coat on anymore.  i just don't want him to get cold, oh, and that first lady that commented, whose child is 2 and still rear facing...isn't that dangerous for a child that old to be rear facing?  thats a whole other topic i guess.  thank you for the helpful info on coats!! blowing kisses

01buc... 01buckler15

We live where it's pretty warm. No need for thick jackets. So my kids never wear them. If it's cold at all here they have thin jackets and long sleeves. I never really thought of a thick jacket being a safety hazard. But It really makes sense to me.

katel... katelynsmom22

i had never heard of this before now, i guess from now on we will wear our coats to the van and take them off when buckle up. Im glad i saw this before our twins arrive this June so i know better when they start to wear coats.

Josef... Josef1129

Josef wears a thin fleece in the car-I can't stand those big stay-puff marshmallow man coats! Even though we live where it is pretty warm we do get some rather cold mornings, and even then his land's end fleece keeps him nice and toasty!

rina16 rina16

NO WAY!!!! And I live in MI so it is cold here a lot. I just warm up the car and they were a 3 in 1 jacket. Once we get into the car I take the shell off and the fleece is left on them. Works great.

hurle... hurleydoll18

My son wears a thin fleece if it is cold outside.  None of his jackets require the harness to be loosened so I know they are safe and he is warm.  He is also 17 months and still rear facing.  His safety is my number one priority.  Great interview!!!

cowgi... cowgirlsmommy

My 3-year old daughter will tell you as soon as you get to the car that there's "No coat in the car seat!".  She wears a fleece jacket under her coat and then when we get to the car the coat comes off and she's ready to jump into her car seat with her nice warm fleece.

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