The weather outside is frightfully cold, and you want to make sure your young daughter is warm for the ride to Uncle David’s for fireworks. So, you pack the child into a thick winter coat, cover her head and ears with a festive hat and start tucking her into her car seat.
Your child’s car seat is meant for their protection in the event of a car accident. But did you know that children wearing coats while strapped into car seats are far more likely to suffer injury than those without coats?
The harness in the car seat needs to be snug to your child’s body to keep her held in. Thick coats or bulky clothing might lead you to loosen the straps to accommodate the coat and make sure your kid is comfortable. But loosening those straps removes the protection afforded by the car seat. Loose straps could expose your child to a higher risk of whiplash or other serious injuries in an accident. In particularly bad ones, you risk them flying out of the car seat.
The same is true if you place pillows or blankets beneath the straps to make your child more comfortable. Introducing slack into the restraints holding your kid in the seat defeats the purpose of the car seat.
So, instead of putting on the winter coat before placing the child in the car seat, do the reverse – warm up the car, put the child in the car seat, and then put the jacket on them backwards, with the straps between the jacket and your child. They’ll be safe and warm, and you will have peace of mind knowing that the car seat will do its job properly if the need arises.