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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crazd... crazdlilangel19

do they have car seat covers for convertible car seats? my 5 month old is to heavy for an infant seat so I'm not sure how to dress him to go sucks because when i go out I try leaving him home with a friend or something but that's getting rather redundant. any suggestions would be great!

RanaA... RanaAurora

Absolutely not.  You fit the kid, in a lightweight shirt, to the straps.  You do NOT loosen straps to fit a bulky coat, EVER.  If you want, put the coat on your child backwards once they're already strapped in, or do what I do and keep BLANKETS in the car.

A coat is NOT worth the safety risks.

Katie... KatieCrandall

My son wears a zip-up sweater, hat, and snuggles into the bundler on his carseat.  We let the heat run in the car for a long time before he gets in it, but even then I'll keep him covered up, as you can only keep the backseat so warm.  Here in Minnesota, where it is currently 8 below and hasn't been above freezing the entire MONTH, jackets are necessary.  I plan on getting a bundler for his next car seat as well.  I know (well, knew) a man who froze to death yesterday, so I don't play around with cold weather!

Cris1128 Cris1128

I have a Bundle Me, it is like a warm waterproof blanket that that both a back and front that zip together. The back velcros around most major car seat brand straps, and then then front zips over baby from shoulder to shoulder, with a little extra flap that can be placed over babies face when going to the car in snow or rain. The front can zip off for hot days, while the back stays in place so you don't have to fool with putting it back in. I love it.

Novem... NovemberLove

My carrier has a Bundle Me by JJ Cole.  It has openings in the back for the carseat straps and doesn't hinder with them being tightened or fitting properly.  It's a pain to shove a little baby in and out of a jacket or winter suit and way too hot.  I love my Bundle Me.  I wish there was one for adults.

JJ Cole Original Bundle Me - Khaki - JJ Cole Collections  - Babies"R"Us

scmom... scmomma85

I used to do this, but it was hard for them to fit the straps so I either would have to lossen the buckles to fit the jacket underneasth and reajust them when they didnt wear a jacket or just carry small baby blankets in the car for them. So I jsytr carry baby blankets in the car with them and before they get out of the car I put their jackets back on.

nonmember avatar Aemelia

No my daughter is 2 1/2 and she doesn't and never has worn a coat in her carseat.  I put a hat on her and wrap her in a fleece blanket that we only use in the car.  I keep a winter coat in the car for days its really cold or I have to park a long ways away from the entrance. 

I have a huge coat and a tiny child I usually just tuck her in with me and wrap my coat around her.  Her little hatted head sticks out the top.  When it is really cold she buries her face in my neck.

missmom2 missmom2

wow. i never knew.

i have 3 children and no one has ever told me that it isn't safe for them to wear coats in the car. I live in michigan and the winters can be horrible. Thank you for this information.

LVmyc... LVmycam_n_bella

I always start up the car 5-10 min before we get in so it can be nice and warm. I will admit I still sometimes have my kids wear there puffy coats when I'm running late. I will try to make sure not to do that. I have a 4yr, 3yr and a 3wk old, so life is really busy for me,lol.

mommy... mommyuphold

My kids wear their coats in the car, but they are not bulky. And they fit in the seat well. I do always pre-warm the car also, but coats are a must, because it is always windy or snowy in the winter.

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