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With the colder temperatures outside, come all the warmer layers for us! As parents, we want to ensure our kids are warm and comfortable while going out and about in winter. With those warmer layers, we need to keep car seat safety in mind! 

I have been stopped many times about my babies not wearing winter coats when coming out of their car seats in the winter, usually by someone much older who followed a very different protocol 50 years ago. Times have changed, and the rules around car seats have significantly changed over the years. They did what was best in their time, and we should aim to do the same! 

There are some general safety rules when it comes to car seat safety and how to keep your kids both safe and warm.

No Bulky Coats

Wearing bulky coats in a car seat is unsafe. Because of all of the padding, it’s nearly impossible to get the straps tight enough. A thin jacket is a much safer option while riding in the car. 

Heavy clothing can cause the straps to move around easily during a crash. Not only may your child not be safely held in by the straps, but a crash might also cause the chest-clip to end up on their abdomen, which can cause more severe injuries. 

Warm up the car before you drive, or have some small car blankets to buddle around them after buckling them up! 

For my babies/younger toddlers, I loved having a car seat poncho in the car! We use it like a blanket while they are in their seat. Then, when we get them out, we pull the poncho over their head to keep them warm on the walk inside. A poncho is much faster to put on than a coat! They make ponchos for older kiddos as well!

No Snow Pants

Snow Pants are another bulky item that is unsafe in a car seat! If you are going sledding next or to a park to play, it can be very tempting to get them dressed first. But safety is essential, and thick snow pants in a car seat are not going to allow you to tighten the straps like you should. 

Don’t Use Inserts (Other than one’s allowed by that specific car seat)

Car seat inserts should only be used if they come with that specific car seat! This rule applies to any inserts. Before you buy anything for your car seat, always make sure your car seat manufacturer approves it. 

No inserts that go under the baby should be used. Even if it’s sold in stores, that does not make it approved! 

For infant carriers, we recommend using a safe, breathable cover! Make sure to pick a cover that leaves your baby’s face uncovered (like this one!). 

Consider the Time

Taking the time to get your baby/toddler out of their seat, into a winter coat, and then into the building is something important to consider! Older toddlers can easily get out of their seats and into their coats independently if they want. But younger kids and babies will need help to do so! 

Often, it can take longer to get the coat on (while the winter winds are pouring into your car) and then walk in versus simply walking into the building right away! This is where having a car seat poncho, or even just a blanket the kid wraps around them, comes in handy! 

Sometimes, running inside with no coat will keep you warmer than getting into all the layers!

Always Have Winter Wear With

Midwest winters can be rough. Even though your kiddos are not wearing their winter coats in the car and may just use a blanket to run inside, still have your coats with!

Every time you drive, make sure every person in the car has a winter coat, hat, and gloves with you, even if they never wear them! I also always have a few emergency blankets in the car, just in case! 

Keep safe (and warm) out there!