During winter months, we need to be extra careful when going on car journeys. While safety features like traction control systems help us stay on the road and drive more safely, we can also actively improve our child’s safety inside the car.
Why is it dangerous for my child to keep a winter jacket on in the car seat?
Most winter jackets are made of filling material like down or feathers, which are designed to keep your child warm by creating a thick “air buffer” in between your child and the cold air outside.
However, when placing your child in the car seat with such a jacket on, the jacket’s thickness can prevent you from tightening the harness close to your child’s upper body.
On this picture it looks like the harness is tightened well and cannot be pulled any tighter.
When keeping exactly the same harness settings and then taking the jacket off, it becomes visible that there is a lot of space between your child’s upper body and the harness.
In contrast, this picture shows how tight the harness should be when buckling up your child correctly.
In the event of an impact where your child is pushed out of its seat and into the harness, the forces are so strong that the air in the jacket is released. This results in your child having too much space for movement, as the harness is not tight enough to hold them back securely.
What can I do to prevent my child from being cold in Winter?
We have collected a list of alternative ways to make sure that your child is comfortable and warm during car journeys in Winter:
1 – Use footmuffs specifically designed for baby car seats
Footmuffs like the BeSafe footmuff are specifically designed for being used with baby car seats. Their back openings and pre-cut holes allow the harness to be placed on the inside in its correct position. As these footmuffs are closed above the harness, no thick layer is added in between your child and the seat’s harness.
2 – Place a hot water bottle into the car seat 5-10 minutes before departure (but of course remove it before using the seat)
By placing a hot water bottle into your child’s car seat five to ten minutes before departure, you can easily ensure that they are not sitting on a cold surface. Instead, they are even receiving extra heating from below. This suggestion was contributed by BeSafe car seat users, thank you!
3 – Have your child wear clothes made from fleece or wool
These materials offer good isolation properties without being so thick, so that the harness can be tightened properly.
4 – Put the jacket on ‘the wrong way around’ after buckling up
Place your child into the seat without the jacket and buckle them up tightly. Afterwards, you can put the jacket on ‘the wrong way around’ by putting it over the arms and laying it over their upper body. This way it can still protect from the cold air without being placed in between your child and the harness.
5 – Bring an extra blanket with you in the car
Allow your child to snuggle up with a blanket that is placed over them after buckling up. This allows them to be warm and cosy but still travel safely during the whole journey.
6 – Have your child wear a poncho and put the back part over the seat
If your child is wearing a poncho, you can place the part that is hanging over their back over the child car seat and the front part above the harness. This way you can create a ‘warm bubble’ underneath the poncho and still ensure that no thick layer prevents the harness from being tight. Alternatively, the same can be achieved by taking a blanket and cutting a head opening into it. Please make sure though that the back part of the poncho/blanket is laying loosely on the car seat and is not stuck anywhere. This suggestion was contributed by BeSafe car seat users, thank you!
How can I inform more parents about this?
One way of making more parents aware of the danger of Winter jackets in car seats is by hanging up posters in your day care or by handing out flyers. To make spreading the word easier for you, we have prepared an A4 poster and A5 flyers that you can download and easily print out at home.
Thank you for helping to spread the word! With your help, even more children will travel safety during the cold Winter months.