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  1. #1
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    It's that time of year again! I posted a similar thread last year but took new pics this year, and can't edit the other post. I'm also limted to the number of pics I can post here, so please see my blog for more pics.

    Please feel free to share my blog on Facebook or on other sites, and PLEASE "like" Alaska Car Seat Safety on Facebook, which has these pictures and more info

    Now winter is here full-force, many people are wondering how to keep their children both safe and warm in the car. I live in Alaska, and I don't have a garage OR an autostart on my car, so trust me I know cold! As you may have heard, bulky coats and snow suits are not safe for use in the carseat, and here's why:

    From the Child Passenger Safety Technical encyclopedia:
    Thick, soft, and compressible material should not be placed behind or under the child, nor in between the child and the shoulder or lap straps. The primary concerns are that the padding may negatively affect the way the CR works in a crash and that blankets or inserts may interfere with proper harness routing. Soft foam padding or fluffy blankets will compress in a crash and leave the harness slack on the child, allowing excessive movement or even ejection. Bulky jackets and snowsuits can have the same effect, while "baby bags" without legs and blankets wrapped around the baby before harnessing do not allow for proper routing of the crotch strap.
    From SeatBeltSafe:
    Clothing worn by children can present compression and harness routing problems. Bulky jackets and snowsuits can compress in a crash and leave the harness slack on a child, allowing excessive movement or even ejection. It is best to have children travel without coats, to put coats on backwards, or to add a blanket over the child after the harness has been buckled. Jackets that are worn the regular way should be no heavier than lightweight fleece fabric or be unfastened to allow contact between the child and the harness or vehicle belt. An option for an infant in an infant seat is a shower cap-style seat cover. This style of cover fits over the top of the infant seat, has an elastic band around the edge, and has no fabric behind or under the child.
    From Transport Canada
    Some aftermarket products can cause safety issues ranging from inducing slack in the shoulder harness system to adding compressible material behind the child, which during a crash will allow for slackness in the harness system. The resulting slack in the harness may cause the child to be either partially or fully ejected from the restraint system, in the event of a crash or sudden stop... Bulky snowsuits can affect the harness with respect to additional compressibility. In addition, many snowsuits are made of very slippery material. This can affect the harness system should the chest clip of the restraint not be used properly. When using bulky winter clothing ensure that the harness system is tight, compressing the material to ensure a snug fit. Check with the car seat manufacturer for alternative methods of clothing during the winter.
    Check your car seat's manual: it will have a section in the front warning against bulky clothing and aftermarket products (such as buntings, "Bundle Me" type bundle bags, Kidpotamus Snuzzlers, etc). An example of such warnings:
    From Baby Trend:
    Do Not dress your child in bulky clothing or other garments that will hinder the harness from being snug around your baby and properly latched between your child's legs.
    From Chicco:
    NEVER use clothing or blankets that interfere with fastening or tightening the harness. An unsecured child could be ejected in a sudden stop or crash! To keep child warm, place a blanket over child and restraint AFTER you have properly secured child in harness. DO NOT use any accessories, pads or products supplied by other manufacturers with this Child Restraint. Items not tested with this restraint could injure your child.
    From Evenflo:
    In cold weather, DO NOT dress the child in bulky clothing like snowsuits if the child is riding in a child restraint. Bulky coats/ snowsuits make it difficult to properly tighten the harness to the child, which may allow the child to be ejected from the restraint during a crash.
    The following pictures illustrate why it's not safe to wear thick coats, jackets, or snow suits in the car seat. They demonstrate how bulky clothing will compress in a crash--no matter how tight the straps are when you put the child in their seat. In all these pictures, the straps were tight and the coats were compressed to the extent of my (human) ability. In a crash, however, there is an extreme amount of energy being transferred to the car seat, and the coat or snowsuit is able to be compressed much more than we are able to do with our bare hands. In effect, the coat or snowsuit will compress down to nothing, leaving slack in the harness. This is what is demonstrated in these pictures--the amount of slack that will be introduced to the harness system in the event of a crash.

    A common question is "but are there cases of children actually being ejected from their car seat?" The answer to that is yes, there certainly are. In 2009, 24,474 people died in car crashes. Of those, 6844 were under the age of 16, and of these, 909 were fully or partially ejected.
    With no further ado, here are the pictures!

    Here is my two year old little guy, all ready to go in his bibs and coat.

    The straps are tightened securely and pass the pinch test:

    With the coat and snow pants removed:

    There is a large amount of slack in his harness that could easily allow him to be ejected in a crash.



    So how do we keep them warm AND safe?
    1. Fleece is your friend! For babies, a good-quality fleece one-piece outfit with a long-sleeved onesie or cotton pajamas is a good start. Fleece is very dense and very warm, and it doesn't compress in a crash. I'm a big fan of fleece suits for infants and toddlers. Carter's has many fleece jammies, which are great for teeny babies. I have also had good luck with Old Navy, as they frequently have fleece at good prices. Several brands, such as Columbia, The North Face, and REI make quality one-piece fleece buntings. Many even have the option of folding the cuff over to cover their hands and feet.

    Here's my son modeling his (pink!) fleece suit:


    2. Smart layers. This is especially important for older kiddos, who don't have the option of snugly one-piece suits. My kids wear cotton tights under fleece pants, and a long-sleeved shirt under a fleece jacket. If you have wind, a nice thin windbreaker can safely go over fleece:


    3. Shower-cap style covers. If you are using an infant seat, choose a shower-cap style cover for it, as these keep the wind and cold off your little one without introducing slack into the harness. You can also tuck blankets over the baby, and the shower cap cover will keep them in place--but once the car warms up, don't forget to unzip the cover and loosen the blankets so baby doesn't get overheated!

    Here is a teeny guy wearing warm clothing, with the shower cap style cover unzipped.

    And zipped up, ready to go!


    4. Blankets over the harness. This is a great option since the child can kick the blanket off when they are warm enough, which prevents them from getting overheated. They work well in the infant seat...


    ...and in the convertible seat


    5. The "backwards coat trick." This involves buckling up the kiddo, and, you guessed it--putting their coat on backwards, over their harness. Here is our model buckled in wearing her fleece and windbreaker:

    After she's buckled, I tuck her warm winter coat around her, and she kicks it off after the car gets warm.

    6. The Car Seat Poncho! This product was invented by a fellow Child Passenger Safety Technician as an alternative to thick, puffy outerwear.
    Last edited by An Aurora; 11-15-2011 at 02:18 PM.
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)


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  3. #2
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    We have lots of fleece coats for the kids. I have tried lots of different brands. The Columbia ones, like this yellow one, are super buttery soft, and very warm and cozy. However, they are cut short and wide, and don't fit kids very well, as they are skinny with long torsos. His pants are wool interlock, which are very soft and warm as well.



    For babies and toddlers, I absolutely love fleece buntings. This one is an LL Bean one:

    I love buntings that have the little foldover parts that cover their hands. For kids that won't keep gloves or mittens on, these are lifesavers!

    The North Face also has some nice ones:


    Old Navy has some cute, warm, and cheap ones (I'm also a sucker for anything with ears, so we had a bunch of these last winter)


    Columbia makes some nice ones as well


    For older kiddos, we have fleece jackets (we have several microfleece pullovers from The North Face that are lightweight yet warm). They also wear fleece pants (Old Navy has really good prices on microfleece pants) and tights underneath on really cold days.

    Hats, mittens, and warm boots are also a must. My son thinks it's hilarious to take off his boots and socks in the car, so I have several pairs of white, gray, or navy warm tights to put under his pants. Fleece booties like these from Old Navy are great to keep toes warm and seats clean


    I like departmentofgoods dot com, as they have great prices on winter gear. I got my son's Columbia fleece jackets for $10 and The North Face fleece pullovers for my girls for $14.
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)


  4. #3
    CPS Technician lourdes's Avatar
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    I live in Puerto Rico but I really like your thread!!!
    Lourdes
    mom to Amanda Victoria 6 y/o in a Graco Turbobooster and Sofia Victoria 5 m/o in a Safety 1st On Board 35 Air

  5. #4
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    great information!

  6. #5
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    Bump
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  7. #6
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    A friend of mine asked me about coats and seat belts. It would be the same problem wouldn't it? We didn't learn about any of this in my CPST class and Ive only heard about coats in car seats.
    Tiffany CPST
    Mama, to Ryleigh age 5, 33lbs and 42.5", Britax Frontier 85
    Averyana Grace age 6 mo, 14.6lbs, Baby Trend Flex Loc

  8. #7
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    To some extent, yes. With adults, it might not make as much of a difference, but with younger children, it could make them more likely to submarine under the belt. That reminds me, I have pictures of my booster rider that I need to upload
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  9. #8
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    DD2 was wearing a skirt with tights today, and it's -17*F with the wind chill, so she was a bit hesitant to take off her snow pants to get in the car. She just slid down the bibs until they were off her bum but left them covering her legs
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

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  11. #9
    Carseat Crazy Cath3114's Avatar
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    It was 80* here today. No worries about winter coats for awhile

  12. #10
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    Quote Originally Posted by cathleencastle View Post
    It was 80* here today. No worries about winter coats for awhile
    Imagine me shaking my fist at you right now
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  13. #11
    Carseat Crazy nosidammai's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    I have this exact suit for my DS, would it be safe for the car seat?

  14. #12
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Is that from Old Navy? It looks fine but hard to tell just looking at it
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  15. #13
    CPS Technician crunchierthanthou's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    Quote Originally Posted by nosidammai View Post
    I have this exact suit for my DS, would it be safe for the car seat?
    It looks perfect as long as you can still buckle the harness without loosening it.

  16. #14
    Carseat Crazy nosidammai's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    Yes it's from Old Navy!

  17. #15
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosidammai
    Yes it's from Old Navy!
    Love their fleece suits! So cozy and warm. And yes perfect for car seats
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  18. #16
    Carseat Crazy nosidammai's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    Quote Originally Posted by An Aurora View Post
    Love their fleece suits! So cozy and warm. And yes perfect for car seats
    Awesome. I'm a sucker for anything with ears.

    Thank you for this post. DD was a summer baby, and we never really left the house because last years' winter was so bad, but I was curious about how to keep my DS warm this winter

  19. #17
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    In post #2 I said those exact same words! I had lots of those for my son last winter
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  20. #18
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    I love the Old Navy fleece jumpsuits!

  21. #19
    CPS Technician happiness-and-balance's Avatar
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    Re: Winter coats and car seats, revisited!

    Bump! It's getting chilly again and this thread is an AWESOME display of winter car seat do's and dont's.
    -Angela

  22. #20
    Carseat Crazy katymyers's Avatar
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    http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/1492...inter_car_seat

    Has anyone else seen this story? It very clearly illustrates the consequences of too much bulk in car seats.

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