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Proper Use of Baby Coats in Car Seats

Avoiding Injuries from Coat Compression


Updated June 10, 2014


Step 1: Unzip coat.

Jennifer White

It's cold out, and you need to be out and about in the car. Are you aware that baby coats can interfere with how well your child is restrained in the car seat? It's important to know how to keep your baby safe and warm as you travel on the highway.

Baby Coats and Coat Compression

Heather Corley, our About.com Guide to Baby Products and a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), detailed the dangers of coat compression. Through interviews, research, and shocking accident accounts, Heather gives evidence on how heavy winter coats and snow suits can keep your child from actually staying within the harness. The force of impact causes the air in the coat to compress, and has been shown that some children have actually been ejected from their car seat, harness straps still connected together. The bottom line is that the harness needs to be close to your baby's body, and too many layers or puffy fabric prevents that from happening. Wisely, Heather also gives 7 steps you can take to check how safe your winter coats and winter car seat accessories, like Bundle Me's and car seat covers, really are.

Help Prevent Coat Compression

In addition to those steps, parents can use this quick tip to help further decrease the amount of space between the harness and their child's body.

One of the easiest ways to continue to use heavy baby coats in car seats is to simply strap your baby in the car seat without wearing her jacket. Once she is harnessed in, place the coat on backwards over top the harness.

However, in particularly frigid climates, this may not be practical as you want something on her body while you place in the car. Alternatively, you could try this method.

  1. Put your baby in her winter coat, and unzip the jacket. (See photo)
  2. Place her in her car seat and put the harness over her shoulders, but do not connect the straps.
  3. Pull the bottom ends of the coat free from being under the harness, allowing the zippered front of the coat to come over top the harness.
  4. Fasten the harness clips so that they are over top your child's clothing, but under the layer of the coat. Be sure that chest clip is fastened at arm-pit level. (See photo)
  5. Zip your baby's coat over top the harness. (See photo)

It is important to realize that although this method does decrease the amount of material that comes between your baby's body and her car seat, you still have the back of the coat under the harness. Be sure to use Heather's 7 step test (link above), to test whether or not your child is safe in her coat.

As you think about the safety of your child's car seat, you may also want to check out these articles:

Browse tips for finding less expensive car seats.

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  2. Health
  3. Baby's First Year
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Car Seat Safety
  6. Proper Use of Baby Coats in Car Seats

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