Winter can present challenges for parents trying to dress their children properly for the weather. This is especially true when the outing involves placing kids in child car seats, so a pediatricians’ group offers some advice.
Children should not wear bulky clothing underneath the harness of a car seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says. The force of a crash would flatten out the fluffy padding in winter coats or other such clothing. That would leave extra space under the harness, putting the child at risk of slipping through the straps and being thrown from the seat.
Instead, dress your child in thin layers, the academy says. Start with close-fitting layers, such as long underwear, tights, leggings and long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warm top, such as a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. A thin fleece jacket can then be put on top.
The general rule is that infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and coat on, your baby should have a hat, coat and blanket. Just be sure to add the blanket over the top of the harness straps, not under, according to recommendations in a news release from the AAP.
Be sure to tighten the straps of the car seat harness, which can be difficult to do if your child is wearing multiple layers of clothing. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, you need to continue tightening them until they fit snugly against your child’s chest, the academy advises.
Keep the carrier part of the car seat inside the house when not in use, the AAP suggests. This will keep the seat at room temperature, reducing the loss of your child’s body heat in the car.
If you use a car seat cover, make sure it doesn’t have a layer under the baby. Many stores sell car seat bundling products, but these aren’t safe to use in a car seat, the academy says. And never use sleeping bag inserts or other stroller accessories in a car seat.
It’s also important to leave the baby’s face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing.
Finally, it’s a good idea to always pack a car emergency bag. Include in it extra blankets, dry clothes, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in case of an on-road emergency or if your child gets wet on a winter outing.
Safe Kids Worldwide has more on car seat safety.