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.