Putting coats on babies in the car

Katherine - posted on 01/01/2011 ( 44 moms have responded )

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I just started doing this. The strap didn't fit right....everything was too tight. It seemed more dangerous to leave the coat ON.

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I have read all the information about car seat safety and not putting coats on babies before they get buckled into their seat. Because of this, I rarely put a coat on my 3-month-old even though it's freezing outside. We use a convertible seat and it's turned around for her, so I usually carry her out in a sling and pop her in the car, which is sometimes warmed up and sometimes cold. I get so many looks from other moms, but I figure this is safer than putting her in a coat. — Anonymous
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We did exactly the same thing with our January baby. I transferred her from the sling into the convertible car seat in a warmed up car. But there are other options, too.

Here are our six tips for winter car seat safety. You can follow some of these. You might also just bring a blanket or warming up the car is fine, too. But you have to not pay attention to those looks as much as possible. You are your baby's mom and you know what is right for her! It isn't like you're taking her on five-hour strolls without a coat. And that isn't even to mention the very real fact that a little bit of cold is better for a 3-month-old than being unsafe in her car seat.

You are right, they are wrong! Or, as they say, "@!#!@ 'em if they can't take a joke!" You have some other options, too, though if this makes you feel bad.

Do you have any advice for this mom?

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Lindsay - posted on 01/01/2011

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We've never done the coat in the carseat thing. Even now with my kids being 5 and 4 and in boosters, they don't wear coats in the car. Beyond the safety aspect, I'm not comfortable driving with a bulky coat on, so why would they want to ride that way? My car is parked in the garage so we've never had any issues with transporting from the car to the house. When they were younger, I would just have their coats handy and slip them on before they got out of the car. Now, they are just in habit of putting their coats on before opening the door and slipping them off before strapping in. :)

[deleted account]

This video best explains why coats and car seats are unsafe. This mom does a really good job explaining and demonstrating. And keep in mind, in this particular video, the mom is using a THIN coat...not a puffy, thick, winter coat. Watch the video and then imagine how much MORE room there is when a child is wearing, say, a snow suit or a thick winter coat.



Edited to add: It's physics. It makes sense to me. We took a childseat safety course when I was pregnant and one of the things I remember the instructor impressing upon us the most is that the straps on a car seat need to be as close to the child's skin as possible. As in, a onesie or t-shirt or even a sweat shirt in between, just nothing too thick.

Lindsay - posted on 01/03/2011

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Sherri-
With all things about having children, changing up a certain routine is not always desireable and the adjustment seems annoying. But as with anything, the new routine does become familiar and doesn't seem like so much of an extra task once you get used to it. I don't have 5 kids, I only have 2. Of your 5 kids, don't at least a couple of them put on and take off their jackets themself? I know that my 5 and 4 yr old now are in the habit of slipping off thier own coat and putting it on. That could cut down the time you spend putting on/taking off. Not trying to preach but I just feel that this is a very important safety aspect that shouldn't be dismissed because you'll spend an extra couple of minutes of your time. Just because you've been doing it this way for years doesn't mean that today you can't change it.

[deleted account]

Sherri, I'm not trying to preach, honestly I'm not. And I know it would be a giant pain for you, so I'm not trying to say it's no big deal and certainly no one wants you to "shoot yourself in the head" lol The reason I posted the youtube thing was because Christine Cook had said that she couldn't find anything about why it is unsafe. I know it's a pain. Like I said, with ONE it's a pain, so you'd have 5 times more than I do. I was just putting the info out there.

[deleted account]

I recently learned about the coats and carseats thing, thanks to a link Dana S. posted about a month ago (maybe less than a month). We just moved from Florida this past February, so heavy winter coats weren't an issue down there. But moving to NY in February, winter coat was a MUST. So, I went the rest of last winter and the first part of this one (Fall) putting my 3 year old in his car seat with a coat. Even before Dana S. posted the link about it, I had started feeling uncomfortable with the coat on him in the car seat because it just felt like I could never get the straps tight enough. His coat is so puffy that even when it was as tight as I could get it, it still had more "give" than I was comfortable with. Then I read the link she posted and we've stopped putting his coat on him. It gets pretty cold here, even though right now we're having a warm spell (it's been in the 40's the last few days but back to the 30's today). I take him to the car coatless (maybe just a thick sweat shirt hoodie), strap him in and then I have a blanket I've always carried in the car that sometimes I'll put over him if he wants it. If I'm just going on a quick trip to the grocery, I don't warm the car up. If we're going on a longer trip (like to the closest Wal Mart, half an hour away), I will warm the car ahead of time for about 10 minutes, just long enough to get the heat hot. I'd rather have a chilly boy than a boy who slips out of his car seat and flies through the car if we're ever in an accident (knock wood three times).

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[deleted account]

I dunno.......I care more about my kid's safety than disrupting a routine or inconveniencing anyone. For me, no one had to tell me not to put a huge puffy winter coat on under a seat belt -- it's just common sense!

[deleted account]

Well don't I feel silly now. I have always put my son in the carseat with his coat or snowsuit on no one ever told me that was wrong or dangerous not even in my carseat class. I know police and the RCMP don't object to it but if it isn't safe where you guys are I don't see why it would be acceptable here. Now my son and I are rarely in a vehicle but it's scary to think that all the times that we have been I was labouring under false information. His coats he wears now aren't overly bulky and I've never noticed a huge difference with how he's strapped in (he's in a little snugger but not by much) but like I said when it came to him being smaller and wearing a snowsuit it was bulky. I'm just glad I found out before God forbid there was a reason to learn the hard way! I have another baby on the way and I will definately be keeping this in mind, my goodness the things you don't realise when there are multiple standards.

[deleted account]

I just found another good example, a perfect way of explaining what happens to a thick coat in a crash...the compression thing.
"There is a great deal of air trapped with the padding of winter coats and blankets. In an accident, the force of the impact causes the winter coat to compress, squeezing out all the air trapped inside the winter coat. To illustrate the idea, think of the commercials for those space saving bags that compress the air when packing coats, blankets, and pillows. There is a great deal of air trapped in those items. In an accident, the result is that the straps of the harness become much too slack and no longer secure your child as was intended by the car seat manufacturer."

Here's the source; it's actually a blog but I like the example of the space bags. Yes, there is more material with thick coats, but more material also means more air....

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article...

Sherri - posted on 01/03/2011

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I am not gong to make excuses. Just saying picture this. Load the kids in the car coats, hats, mittens on get to the car. coats off, drop child #1 at school coats all back on, back in the car all coats back off, repeat for child #2, then Child #3. Now 3hrs later do this all over again picking up son #3. Come home for an hour. Do it all over again picking up another little boy. Come home for another hour and then do it once more. I think I would rather shoot myself in the head. There just has to be a better way. Honestly I think I want to go back to my old car seats with the bar over the head so much easier and I guess safer according this new research.

[deleted account]

And about the compression, if your hands can compress a coat just by smushing the coat, imagine how much compression will happen when you're going, say, 45-50 miles an hour and your kid's forward momentum hits the harness with the coat in between. That forward momentum will compress the coat even more than your hands will, in an accident.

[deleted account]

Sherri, right, but the point is that you can adjust for a t-shirt vs a sweat shirt and the straps will still be tight enough because the sweat shirt isn't full of air like a winter coat. I know it's a pain with you having more kids, because even with just my one, it takes us longer but to me, his safety is more important than the inconvenience of having to stand in the parking lot an extra minute to put his coat on after he gets out of the car. It would just mean you would have to adjust your "getting out of the car" routine.

Sherri - posted on 01/02/2011

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I know it is safer but honestly I just can not do this amount of work to put coats on to go out to the car. Take them off when we get to the car buckle them in. Put them back on to get out of the car. etc etc etc. You see my point. Now picture this times 5 because that is how many kids I will have to to do this with 4 times a day.

Also to play devils advocate nobody is showing that a coat will actually compress that amount in an accident. That coat didn't have any extra air in it persay it just was more material so obviously you would need to adjust the straps to make room for the extra material. Just as you would have to wearing a t-shirt vs. a sweatshirt.

Vegemite - posted on 01/02/2011

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so I know this rule but can't find out why it is dangerous to wear a coat. I live in Queensland so it not much of a problem here the most they wear is a shirt and jumper except at night in the middle of winter. If we're at home going out at night they'll wear a jumper and i'll take it off to get in the car, then put a jacket on when they get out. Then on the way home they'll get in the car and take their jacket off before strapping them in.

Sherri - posted on 01/02/2011

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My kids were always in winter snowsuits, coats, hats and mittens in the car.

[deleted account]

Despite all research and data to suggest how very unsafe it is in the event of a crash, Amanda? Hmmm?

Amanda - posted on 01/02/2011

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I always put my son in a coat and all 3 of my girls. If we were to get into an accident, I don't want them getting cold!! I've heard people telling me not to put them into a coat but I always have and always will....that's my opinon!

[deleted account]

I never knew about the coat rule when DS was little. Now he's in a square booster seat, does the same rule apply? or is it only for car seats?

Johnny - posted on 01/02/2011

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It is a bit of a problem. We just picked up a new thinsulate coat for this purpose. It's really warm but quite thin and also waterproof. It was getting really problematic trying to get her into the car, let it warm up, then take the coat off and strap her in. Not to mention that our city has an idling by-law so you aren't legally allowed to "let the car warm up." It's kind of a bit of a pickle.

Bonnie - posted on 01/02/2011

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Susanne, I never knew their was a problem with it either until COM.

[deleted account]

never heard anything about coats and carseats before i've always had my babies in snowsuits or coats in their carseats i never knew there was a problem with it

Rosie - posted on 01/01/2011

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what are you supposed to do then? i can't let my kids go without wearing a coat, it's just to cold here. is there a certain way to strap them in or anything?

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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Yeah, it's true, they definitely don't fit as well. I don't like putting them in the car with coats ever, but when it's super cold, I just worry about them freezing while I'm fussing with getting their coats on to go inside. Maybe I can find a better solution though.

Katherine - posted on 01/01/2011

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I'll tell you what. Those straps do not fit correctly with a coat on. If you have a coat you might as well not even buckle your child.

This just newly discovered by me.

Shauna - posted on 01/01/2011

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I had intentions of puting my LO in a coat, after one time realized its too puffy to fit properly in the carseat so we never used it again. If its not too bad out i just put a light fleece coat on him that is more like a "hoodie" better fit in the carseat and i have a bunch of baby blankets in the car if the car isnt warmed up and i feel its too cold for him i throw a blanket on him in the carseat if he gets hot he kicks it off. IF its REALLY cold out he has a fleece one peice snowsuit thing i put on him. Since its fleece its thin enough to wear under the carseat harness yet he seems cozy in it. Besides we are never in a situation where he is going to be outside for a long period of time other than walking from car to store, in that case ill hug him tight and throw a blanket over his face if its windy or something! :)

Lindsay - posted on 01/01/2011

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I carried both of my kids in their infant carseats for most of the first year. It was definately easier than strapping them in those things after carrying them to the car. Not weird at all. I loved that they could just snap in and out of the base. :)

Lacye - posted on 01/01/2011

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When it started getting cold my daughter's first year, it may sound kinda weird but I would bring my daughter's infant carseat inside the house when I got her out of the car. When we had to go somewhere, I would not put a coat on her but just strap her in the carseat, put a hat on her head, put a blanket on top of her, and then take her inside the carseat out to the car. Yes it was heavy since my daughter was about 6 months old by that time but she was warm. Just ignore the looks from other people. They don't know you and they don't know what is best for your baby. Only you do.

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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Calgary. It's not always that cold, not even often, but we do have our days - or sometimes weeks! ;( I hate winter!

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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Heather, I'm with you. When it's -40 with a windchill that puts it down to -55 (and yes, that does happen here, I'm not exaggerating), a child's skin could freeze even in the few seconds it takes to get their coat on with the door open before getting them out of the car. So, unless we are going somewhere where I can park in a parkade, or on a long drive where they'd get too hot with their coats on, in weather like that, they wear their coats. Although, in weather like that, I generally try to avoid going out period, if I can! Otherwise, I have a heated garage, so I just bring their coats with us and put them on when we get out of the car. If we have a few stops in close proximity to each other though, I'll admit, I don't take their coats off between every one. I'll take them back off before we head home, or on the next long leg of the trip.

[deleted account]

It's a bit like that Lesson 8 "I'm Judging You" blog.

The car seat safety rules say that a child shouldn't have a big coat/snowsuit in a car seat. You don't put one on.

People comment that child is inadequately dressed for the weather. You explain that you have left the car running so that it's like an oven before you get in.

It's irresponsible to leave the car running, spewing out all those fumes that poison the environment and causes childhood death.

I guess global warming will solve the problem because kids won't need big coats anymore and they can be hot and safe in their carseat.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/01/2011

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I have to say - if it is -30 to -40 out I am just going to keep the damn coat on her. 1) It's too cold to carry her out without it. 2) I don't really want to stand there and fumble with coats when it's that freaking cold out. We don't generally go out much in the super cold, but sometimes there are long cold snaps here and it is just unavoidable.

Nicole - posted on 01/01/2011

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I bring my daughter out in her coat and then take it off inside the car and put her in her car seat. I put her in her coat again when I take her out.


I am so busy; I don’t spend enough time in my home most weeks to truly mess it up. I do a big clean every weekend.

We did exactly the same thing with our January baby. I transferred her from the sling into the convertible car seat in a warmed up car. But there are other options, too.

Tara - posted on 01/01/2011

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@Jaime
We had one of those for Riley, I put him into his seat with his sleeper on, a knitted sweater and over top, plus a hat, then strapped him in, then put a blanket or two over him, then zipped up the car seat cozy, mine could be pulled right up over the top of his head so that he could still breathe but it kept the wind off of him. He was the warmest one in the van!!
Good Luck, any day now right?

[deleted account]

Mine really isn't a coat. It's more like a jacket or a blanket or something. I dunno, it's not thick at all and is meant to be worn over the baby's clothes. And it's gonna be freezing when she comes home. She will be needing more than the little jacket I got for her in our crappy little car.

[deleted account]

My mother-in-law bought a little car seat coat for our baby. It's like a little fleece papoose, covering the legs entirely, with a little belt hole between the legs so it can be buckled. It's thin but very warm, and I'm going to use it a lot because our daughter will be here in a few days and the weather has been pretty weird and cold lately. It's only a size 0-3mo but by the time she's grown out of it it'll be warm enough.

Our car doesn't like to warm up very quickly so it'd be a bit impractical to sit with it running for thirty minutes (about how long it takes to warm up) when the trip will only last a maximum of ten or so and then the car gets cold again after we've reached our destination.

Mary - posted on 01/01/2011

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Well, Molly is a November baby...she didn't own a coat that first year. I put a hat on her, and a blanket to get her to and from the car (I had an infant car seat that first year). By the time she was three+ months, I usually just put her in the bjorn, and wore a big enough coat that we both fit in.



From infancy until the present, that girl cannot stand being to hot. She'll wear a coat when she's walking outside, but she would get too hot with it on in the car. I don't blame her...I take mine off to drive for the same reason. We're both probably safer with our coats off, and certainly more comfortable.



I can't get too bothered by what people think...after all, I'm the mom that straps her child onto her back and walks the dogs a few miles a day...even in the winter. We ALL love to walk in the snow =)

Tara - posted on 01/01/2011

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I'm not going to post any links because I imagine this mom has read them all.
We don't put a coat on Riley when he's in the car, it's too bulky and does prevent a proper fit.
He is usually carried in and out of places inside Steve's coat!! lol, he's tiny enough that Steve just pops him inside his coat, zips it up and walks to the truck,
Whether or not the truck is warm, is irrelevant to us, he is safer without a big coat, we usually bring a blanket from the house that is warm, and if not, we cover him with our own warm coat (over his straps etc.) until the vehicle warms up.
Babies and toddlers should never be put into a car seat with a big coat on, it will prevent the car seat from properly protecting them in the event of a crash. It's not so much about personal choice here, it's proven that it is unsafe to do it.
It would be the same as putting a big ass pillow across your chest and waist and then putting a seat belt on, it's not going to work if it's too loose, you will be tossed around like a doll in the event of a collision.
That is my hungover opinion.
:)

Tiffany - posted on 01/01/2011

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This is a constant battle I have with my MIL. We had a THIN snowsuit last year we put our daughter in. She didn't feel it was good enough, bought a bigger one. I gave it back to her and said my daughter was fine. This year, she bought a thinner coat for fall but now just bought a freaking snowsuit for her to wear all winter she says. I said she will wear it when we're playing in the snow, and that's it. I have no problem giving it back to her or telling her no. I personally feel its much better to warm the car up, put a light coat on them or sweater and use blankets. I bring my daughters coat with us so when we get out of the car she has it on along with her hat and gloves. We have a nice thin winter coat now, and we keep a long sleeved shirt with a sweater or sweatshirt on her before the coat so she is not cold. It's much safer to not have them all bulked up while they're in a warm car any way...and much more comfortable for them.



I forgot to add that when my daughter was born (Oct 09), we had a cozy cover too. We used it all the time until she started unzipping it and trying to get it off the car seat lol.

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