It’s obvious that with the cold, bone-chilling temperatures coming up in time for winter, you’re going to bundle up your little one in the puffiest, warmest coat they have. However, that puffy coat could be putting your child right in harm’s way during a car crash. The puffiness of the coat can make the child’s car seat straps very loose, meaning less protection should there be a car accident.
With this being said, once the car is warmed up, it’s best to take off the puffy coat for the time being to ensure the harness straps on the car seat are 100% effective should an accident take place. If a car accident were to take place and the child was wearing a puffy coat, the harness straps would condense the puffiness of the coat (which is all built with feathers), causing the child to fly forward. This can cause injury to the head, neck, and chest.
Pediatrician Kimberly Giuliano, MD, touched on the aspect of the warm, puffy coat and how much of a safety hazard it can be in terms of causing the car seat straps to become ineffective at protection.
“Those big bulky coats really do cause too much separation between the belt and the child. In a significant vehicle crash, the child is at risk for slipping out from under the straps.” Additionally, even if the child doesn’t slip out, it causes a lot of injury-prone movement to the child, causing the previously mentioned injuries to the head and neck area.
Dr. Giuliano suggests removing the puffy coat from the child once inside the car, strapping them in, and covering them with a warm blanket or putting the coat on them backward with the arms properly through the armholes.
“The key is that the seatbelt needs to be tight against the baby and not be separated from the baby by layers of cloth or down,” says Giuliano.
So, how do you know if your child’s coat is too puffy for a car seat? Follow these tips, as instructed by Dr. Giuliano.
- Strap your child into the seat with their coat on.
- Undo the straps without loosening them and remove the coat.
- Re-fasten the straps and see if there is enough room to fit your hand in between the straps and the child.
- If there is room for your hand, then the coat is too thick to wear in the car seat.
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