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Car seat safety: The problem with puffy winter coats

A woman rubs noses with a young girl next to an open car door.

Dec. 1, 2022—Brrr! Keeping your child warm and cozy is a must on cold winter days in the car. But so is safety, no matter what the season. That's why it's important to make sure your child's winter wear won't make their car seat less effective.

Puffy coats and snowsuits are the problem. When a child wears a bulky winter coat while using a car seat, the coat can keep the harness straps from fitting snugly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The result is that, in a crash, the child could slip through the straps and out of the safety seat.

Help your child have a warm, safe ride

Follow these tips from the AAP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Dress your child in thin layers instead of a bulky coat. For example, thin tights could be worn under the pants. A sweater or a thermal-knit top can be worn under a thin jacket. Use mittens and a hat for extra warmth.

Check that the harness is snug. Sometimes layered clothing can make it harder for the straps to fit right. Pro tip: You should not be able to pinch the harness strap at your child's shoulder. If you can, it's too loose and you should tighten the harness some more.

Use a blanket or a coat for added warmth. After you have properly secured your child, you can cover your child with a blanket or a coat on backwards (be sure to leave your child's face exposed).

All-around care seat safety

Car seats help keep kids safe in a crash, studies show. But there are many car seat options. Unsurprisingly, many parents don't know how to use these lifesaving restraints correctly, potentially putting their kids at risk. View this infographic for tips on installing and using a car seat safely.


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This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.