Have you read your entire car seat manual? Like, the whole thing – not just how to install it for your car? Did you read the part about how heavy jackets and after-market products that go between the child and car seat are not safe?
I’m from Wisconsin and winter is upon us. It’s going to be a bad year, they say. Needless to say, I’ve worried about how to keep my daughter warm AND how to keep her safe in the car so I’ve taken the time to learn some great lifesaving rules.
I see time and time again that not all my local neighbors and friends are doing the same. Most everyone worries about keeping their babies/kids warm and they assume that because they buckled them in their car seat that they’ll be safe. Boy, are they sadly mistaken and it makes me so worried for all those babies/kids that might be inadvertently launched out of their car seats in the event of an accident.
‘Why isn’t it safe to wear a jacket in a car seat?’ you ask? If that thick coat is going over the front and back of your child when he/she is strapped in a car seat it could be an extra inch or two (or more!) of fabrics between your child, the car seat and the straps.
To better understand why this makes a difference put your child in their seat with their jacket on and tighten the straps (use the pinch test!). Now, without loosening anything, unclip and take your child out of the car seat. Take the jacket off, put your child back in the seat and clip the straps without adjusting them. This will show you how much slack the straps have. In the event of an accident a thick jacket will compress causing it to actually act more like a baby/kid launcher than anything with those loose straps.
Since we’re all obviously worried about keeping our kiddos warm and safe in frigid weather, have no fear, there are plenty of ways! Here are my 6 suggestions for keeping your kid(s) safe and warm.
1) Start your car and let it warm up. Better yet, get remote start or put remote start on your ‘Christmas List’! And, if you’re thinking you don’t have the time to start your car before you go to XYZ or no way can I afford remote start here are some good reasons why you should make the effort.
Metal shrinks when it’s cold and expands when it’s hot. If you start you car then take off right away when everything is still cold and shrunken down instead of letting it gradually warm/expand it can potentially expand/heat up faster than it naturally would. That sounds like a bonus right!? It’ll speed it up!!! NO! This could cause parts to expand too much, not enough, break, etc.
Not to mention that cold oil is super duper thick, takes time to warm up and is needed for your engine to run properly. When you drive with super cold thick oil you can potentially cause breakage to your motor parts as well. Basically my husband’s take for car care 101 is always warm your car in cold weather. (My husband is a mechanic and my source for this info.)
Also, wouldn’t you rather spend the extra minute to run out to start your car or drop the couple hundred bucks to put in remote start to get your car toasty warm if it could mean keeping your child safe? They won’t need so many layers when they’re sitting in the car seat when it’s warm 🙂
2) Polar fleece is safe. Fleece is incredible warm, breathable and does not compress the way puffy jackets do. Buy a nice fleece jacket with a neck collar to keep the cold breeze off your kid’s neck and body.
3) Head, shoulders, knees & toes… oh & hands!
Put a nice warm hat on your kid(s).
Keep their shoulders free and clear of compressible materials so the harness doesn’t have a chance to slip off.
Put a blanket over those knees if your car is a little chilly. (Which, it shouldn’t be if you follow rule #1!)
Keep those toes covered with some nice boots or super warm socks with tennis shoes.
Always put gloves on before going outside but you can take them off when you get to the car because it’s toast warm, right? (Again, see #1)
4) Rock a poncho. If the trip from your house to car, car to house, car to store, car to wherever is going to be too cold for just sporting a hat, fleece jacket, gloves and boots consider throwing a poncho over your kid for the trip. It’s a lot easier on and off then a jacket is and you can actually lift the poncho up to put the strips directly on your child’s shoulders instead of taking it off. Also, instead of buying a poncho consider making your own with a couple layers of fleece.
5) Use Maddie’s instructions for safely using a jacket in a car seat. Because really, a nice fleece jacket with a windbreaker outside can easily keep your child warm and if you follow her instructions by keeping the harness straps snug and pull the jacket off the front of your child through the harness straps like she shows you won’t have any problems. But, read the instructions and follow them each and every time you put your child in their seat.
6) Wear your newborn/infant! Keep your car seat in your car where it’s getting all tasty warm while you warm your car up. (See #1) Next, wear your young infant or newborn in a sling or wrap to and from your car. Not only does babywearing have amazing benefits but your body heat and your jacket will keep your baby warm.
Just slip into the seat next to the car seat, take your infant/newborn out of the wrap and properly secure them into their car seat. Easy, peasy!
So, whenever I’m on Facebook and I see one of my friends’ kid’s in their big ‘ole puffy jacket smashed in their car seats I share some of the information I’ve found because maybe they’ll take a second to learn more about car seat safety with jackets.
I hope you take the time to do the same for your friends and neighbors to keep the next generation safe in the car!