Keeping Toddlers Warm in the Car Seat
Winter jackets safe for the car seat... do they exist? Yes, but there aren't many and most winter jacket are not safe in the car seat!
Experts suggest removing the jacket in the car seat and using a blanket to cover the child. If you're a Canadian parent, you probably rolled your eyes just now. "Really, you expect me to remove my child's jacket in -20C weather?".
Why are some jackets unsafe in the car seat?
First, let's talk about why jackets a hazard in the car seat. A winter jacket is warm is because it's filled with little pockets of air. During a collision, the jacket will compress and all that extra air creates space between toddler & the harness. With enough space, the child could come out of the seat!
Navigating winter is tricky with car seats. Let's talk about about a few solutions to make your road-tripping a little easier!
Car Seat-Safe Clothing
#1) Thin fleece sweaters are great base layers! They don't compress much and fleece is fairly warm. This is a great option when you can remote-start your vehicle to warm up the seat a little and you don't have to walk across a long parking lot!
#2) Ponchos are great because they fit over the entire harness & seat. A poncho can be taken off without unbuckling the child. My family and I often go on long road trips (pre-covid, anyway) to visit family in Northern Ontario. When the kids get hot, it's nice to be able to remove a layer of clothing without unbuckling them!
Check out Bundle Baby Ponchos here.
#4) THIN down-filled jackets. MEC, Costco, North Face & Patagonia have great options. Remember, they have to be thin!! Not all down-filled jackets are created equal for the car seat. You should be able to squeeze it very easily!
You might be asking "What about my child's current jacket? Is it ok in the car seat?"
Let's test it!
Check out this video where I explain how to test a jacket's safety in the car seat!
Put the jacket on the toddler & strap them in the car seat. Tighten the harness ("pinch test"), then unbuckle the child WITHOUT LOOSENING the straps. Take the jacket off and put them back in the seat. If there's a lot of slack in the harness, the jacket shouldn't be used in the car seat.
In the example above, the first photo is using a regular winter jacket and you can see once the jacket was removed, there was a lot of space. My fist loosely fits between the harness & my daughter. In the second photo, she's wearing a thin down-filled jacket and in this case, when I removed the jacket, I hand (flat) barely fits under the harness. The thin down-filled jacket is definitely much better in the car seat.
What About Babies?
When it comes to keeping babies warm in the bucket (infant) seat, there's lots of great products (like car seat covers & our 3-in-1 Blanket, for example). Check out my blog How to Keep my Baby Warm in the Car Seat.
Hope that was helpful!
Until next time, be safe!
Natalie, founder of Bundle Baby