Here’s a car seat safety tip you might not know about. Imagine, it’s cold outside, and you want your little one to be warm. It makes sense that you’d bundle them up during the winter months before heading outdoors.

A word of caution if your child is still riding in a car seat. Dressing them in a thick winter coat before strapping them in might put them in danger.

Car seat safety is an important topic for all parents. As part of a report featured on the Today Show, a lab in Michigan tested the outcome of a child-like dummy fastened in a car seat while wearing a winter coat being involved in a crash at 30 mph.

During the test, the coat wearing child-dummy pitched forward and completely fell out of the car seat. This could have resulted in serious injuries had it been a real child.

What caused the child to break loose?  Large coats lead to less secure straps, which in turn can prevent children from being properly secured in their car seats. When your kids are buckled in, you shouldn’t be able to put more than a finger between your child’s collarbone and the belt. The trouble is that with a heavy coat on, you have no real way to tell how tight the belt actually is.  

In discussing car seat safety, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that parents dress children “in thinner layers” while fastened in their car seat. If it’s particularly cold, you can then lay a heavy blanket or jacket over your child once they’re buckled in. 

Car Seat Safety – Do’s and Don’ts For Winter Coats

Car Seat Safety – Do’s

  • Stick with lightweight coats/sweaters or dress your baby in thin layers.
  • Lay a blanket over your child after they are strapped in (if you want extra warmth).

Car Seat Safety – Don’ts:

  • Put your child in a heavy coat before buckling them in.
  • Keep your child in a snowsuit in their car seat.
  • Use foot muffs in a car seat (these should only be used in their stroller).

Follow these car seat safety tips to ensure your child is secure during the colder months. To view the crash-test video from the Today Show, click here.