Why Children Shouldn’t Wear Coats Under Car Seat Straps

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Calling all parents with toddlers! It’s no secret that a car seat that’s properly installed can save your child’s life any day. But there is one step parents may not be aware of when buckling them up. According to experts, every time you buckle your children with bulky coats on can be hazardous.

While it may be keeping them warm from the cold weather outside, research shows that there is a high risk that comes from keeping the coat on. The coat might not be secured properly, making it a dangerous combination. Bulky winter coats can lessen the effectiveness of your child in the car seat. Take for example, if a baby is wearing a thick winter coat and they are strapped in, everything it’s going to compress. Meaning, your child may seem tightly packed and secure in the seat. But, it is actually adding millimeters of dangerous space.

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The coat is not holding the baby in the seat correctly and is at risk of flying out depending on how loose the car seat straps are. The puffy winter jackets allow extra room in the seat for the child. Meaning they can easily wiggle in and out depending on the size of the coat.

In a crash, the body will continue moving until the seat belt stops causing the child to be seriously hurt, allowing damage to their internal organs or body. Experts proved their study by testing their findings with a “crash test baby” wearing normal clothes and one with a puffy coat. The “normal clothes” baby stayed in the car seat after the collision. While the one with a big coat went flying out of the seat due to the extra space of the harness straps.

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To make sure your child is strapped correctly, you can do a pinch test by making sure your child’s coat isn’t leaving room in the straps. Strap your baby into the car with the coat on, and then unstrap. Don’t loosen the harness, just unstrap, and then take your child’s coat off. When you strap your child back in without the coat, you shouldn’t be able to pinch the strap. If you can, your child won’t be secure wearing the puffy jacket.

An easy hack one can use, to not leave the baby cold, is to buckle them in, put blankets over them or the coat on top. You can also dress your child in appropriate layers. The best way to keep your child safe in any car is to use the right car seat the right way. Safe Kids stated road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. By using a safety seat correctly, one can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

Some car seat safety tips include:

  • Buy the right car seat.
  • Make sure your child is riding in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old. If your child has outgrown its seat, they car facing forward.
  • Install your car seat and make sure it’s secure by using lower anchors or a seat belt.
  • Get a properly fitted harness to give the best possible protection for your child.
  • Look at the car seat label to make sure your child is still within the height, age, and weight limit for the seat.

Editors Note: This post was originally published on November 12, 2018.

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