winter coats car seats correct

Winter coats in car seats

– Learn why you should remove them –

Letting children wear winter coats in car seats is a common mistake. Read on to learn more about why you should remove thick winter clothing before placing your child in the car seat. Also, get six safe alternatives for keeping children warm in a car.

4 minute read

At BeSafe, we know that protecting your child and keeping her or him safe is your number one priority whether it is in school, on holiday, at home or in this case: your car. Keeping your son or daughter safe is after all why you have a car seat installed in the first place. So let’s talk about why you should avoid the combination of winter coats and car seats.

As temperatures are falling and you protect your child against the cold outside with a winter coat, taking that coat off before going for a drive is not necessarily something that automatically pops into anyone’s mind. That is why we as a car seat manufacturer do what we can to get the following message across every year before winter sets in: In the event of an accident or even just harsh braking, the seat’s harness may not be correctly tightened on the child’s body if he or she has a winter coat on. The result can be that the car seat may not keep your child as firmly in place as it is designed to do.

Why are thick winter coats in car seats dangerous?

Most winter coats have a 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 coat on, the coat’s thickness can prevent you from tightening the harness close to your child’s upper body.

winter coats in car seats instruction 1

On this picture, it looks like the harness is tightened well and that it cannot be pulled any tighter.

winter coats in car seats instruction 2

When keeping the same harness settings and then taking the coat off, it becomes clear that there is a lot of space between your child’s upper body and the harness.

winter coats in car seats instruction 3

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 the seat and into the harness, the forces are so strong that the air in the coat is released. When this air is released, it can result in your child having too much space for movement, as the harness is not tight enough to hold him or her back securely.

Thus, when travelling with children in winter, we strongly encourage you to avoid having them wear thick winter coats.

How to prevent my child from being cold in the car?

winter coats in car seats alternatives

1 – Use footmuffs specifically designed for baby car seats

Footmuffs specifically designed for being used with baby car seats have back openings and pre-cut holes that allow placing the harness on the inside in its correct position. As these footmuffs are closed above the harness, no thick layer is added 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. BeSafe car seat users contributed to this suggestion, thank you!

3 – Have your child wear clothes made from fleece or wool

These materials offer good isolation properties without being to thick for the tightening the harness correctly.

4 – Put the coat on ‘the wrong way around’ after buckling up

Place your child into the seat without the coat and buckle them up tightly. Afterwards, you can put the coat 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 placed over them after buckling up. The blanket 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 an opening for the head 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. BeSafe car seat users contributed to this suggestion, thank you!

How to inform more parents about winter coats in car seats

Do you know someone who should know about not using winter coats in car seats? One way of making more parents aware of the danger is by hanging up posters in your daycare 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, more children will travel safely during the cold winter months.