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

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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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jeab4... jeab4cline

The carseat poncho is cool. I have not been able to get my son into a carseat with a heavy winter coat on . I would totally buy this! Of coarse it would have to be boyish. Lol. I wouldn't let him wear a bright pink one like the one that is displayed. lol.

holli... hollinicole

My dd never wears a coat in the car seat never has. We always warm the car and take her coat off once in the car and then she can cover up with it or a cover that in the car is she is still cold. Also makes it easyer is she gets hot.

krist... kristinlimon

Nope, infact my 2 y/o has told his daycare teachers "NO COAT CAR!" when they try to put his winter coat on when we leave. Its great. I put sweatshirts on the kids and we usually make a mad dash for the car. Most of the time we dont even take winter coats with us. We only purchase them for when we play in the snow and for daycare.

karen143 karen143

this is great information!! i personally have been doing this anywho as my daughter is uncomfortable and it prevented the straps from sitting properly (often the chest clip fell to the lap and the shoulder straps sat funny). now my daughters throw a fit if i do not remove them!! even tell others not to put their kids in with jackets (that ride in our car) and will comment if they see someone doing it. they also know if they are buckled in right and my oldest lets you know for sure lol. but i agree with a PP who stated, if we take other precautions like extended harnessing and extended rear facing why not do this as well?

smich... smichellem

I felt like it wouldn't be comfy fo rher to wear the big puffy coat esp in the carseat. I don't like wearing a big puffy coat muchless in the car myself. But...with the freeezing temps we have had this yr (we aren't used to it! lol) I have taken her out with the big puffy coat. I adjusted the straps to fit her comfortably and correctly when she was wearing her coat in the car seat. When we came home I readjusted the the straps for not wearing the coat. I thought that made sense. I have only used her big puffy coat a couple of tiems. I normally dress her in layers and use a good warm blanket for warmth and comfort.

jkrue... jkruehmann

My son wears a thin fleece coat in the car, we live in CO and it can get cold. Usually I warm up the car before we leave the house, but I can't do that after going shopping or things like that, so the car can get really cold. I use the fleece and I buckle the harness underneath the fleece then zip it up. I also keep blankets in the car.

Ihear... IheartDrake

I had been wondering about this for a while. I'm glad to get the information. We have a fleece jacket that my son can wear and I always try to put a hat on him for extra warmth to the car. It has always seemed like it would be uncomfortable anyways to be in the car seat with all that coat around his face!

tnt1014 tnt1014

We have a polar fleece"snow suit" for our little one.  It's a single  layer fleece one piece suit that keeps her plenty warm but we do not have to adjust her straps at all.  We also wrap a a blanket around her for to and from the car and try to warm the car as often as possible. We live in New York so it does get plenty cold here lol. It was -12 last week!


♥ Terri

Trist... TristansMom440

My son never wears a coat in his carseat...he gets hot so fast & sweats buckets.  He has only worn a thin windbreaker or a sweatshirt in the carseat.  I hate putting his big puffy coat on & off when we're out & about...but there's no way he would tolerate it in the car.  I usally carry a blanket w/me to throw over his legs or to throw over him if we are just gonna run in & out of somewhere really fast.

lilmo... lilmom803

No my baby doesnt use a coat. She has one of those car seat cover things it goes right around the car seat and you just zip them up and they are all warm and cozy. And another up side to this is they can move around and not be restricted.toddler girl

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