If you live in a snowy or cold area, driving during the winter can be dangerous at times. Once your baby is strapped in their car seat, you should have some sense of security that they will be safe. However, there are times when you are unintentionally putting your baby at risk. We can help fix that here as we go through 7 tips to help keep your baby safe in the winter.
We have compiled a list of tips to allow you to drive confidently in the winter knowing your child is secure. According to Healthy Children, there are some tips you can easily utilize that will keep your child safe during those car rides during the coldest time of the year.
1. Skip the winter coat
A lot of new parents and grandparents may not be aware of this, but a puffy winter coat can be very dangerous for an infant or toddler in a car seat. Like I mentioned above, the issue here is that these coats can be compressed in the event of an accident and your child may not be held as tight in the car seat can lead to serious injury.
If you want to test whether or not your child’s coat is safe, follow these steps outlined by Consumer Reports;
Step 1) Place your child in the car seat with their coat on. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch the webbing underneath.
Step 2) Unhook the harness without loosening it. Remove your child and their coat. Have your child go back into their car seat and connect the harness again. At this point, if you can pinch the strap together between your thumb and forefinger, the coat is too bulky to be worn in the seat.
2. Use an approved coat or fleece
What baby coats and fleeces are car seat safe? This is not always a clear-cut answer, but there are many options. Most coats are probably going to be okay, but use your best judgement before buying. Stay away from very puffy or bulky coats as they are the ones that could lead to most issues. This would apply to toddlers and young kids more often than an infant. Anything fleece or thinner should be fine, especially for an infant.
My husband and I personally use this fleece from Amazon for our 4 month old. It is very warm and is completely safe for the car seat. It has a hood as well as foot covers that you can slip over the feet or wear without them covering. However, there are plenty other options on Amazon and other places.
3. Start your day early & warm up your car
This one is pretty obvious but give yourself extra time in the morning to start your vehicle, especially on days when driving conditions could be bad. You know how cold it can be as an adult getting into a freezing cold car, imagine how that feels for your little one going into a car that hasn't been warmed up! So get your car started and take your time when driving.
If you must bring your small child somewhere during the winter, you will also need extra time to dress your child in multi-layered clothing. We all have babies who think its fun to give you a hard time while putting on socks of an extra layer, so pad your morning with a few extra minutes to make your morning a little less frantic.
4. Dress your child in multiple layers that are thin
The next tip to keep your child safe during the winter is to dress them in multiple layers. For our little guy, we usually will put a short sleeve onesie on him with a long sleeve onesie over top. Then we will put pants, socks and some booties. This gives him extra layers when we know he is going somewhere that is chilly or if we are traveling when its cold outside.
Always remember that you want to give them one more layer than you would wear as an adult. If you can sit in his room in a tee shirt and feel warm, then give him a long sleeve shirt or put a onesie under his pajamas at night. The same concept goes for going out in the cold. If you need a hat or gloves, you better make sure that your little one has them on as well.
5. Keep the carrier part of the seat indoors when it is not being used
If your child is still in the car seat with the carrier basket, then make sure to bring that inside when it is not being used. The padding in the car seat carriers is thick and can get very cold when sitting outside overnight. This not only makes for a warm comfortable environment for buckling in your baby, but it also allows your to double check that they are securly fastened in the carrier.
6. Bring boots, extra socks, and mittens along
You can keep your child warm in the car without needing to use any bulky winter coats. Bring a hat, warm mittens, extra socks, and boots and put them on your child. It will not have any impact on the harness but adds a layer or warmth.
And, remember, if you are concerned that your child is too cold in the car, then you can always bring a bag of extra blankets and clothing. As long as you do not dress your child in bulky winter clothing and place it all under the harness, you and your child will be safe during a long and grueling winter drive.
7. Get a car seat cover
There are many options for car seat covers, but once you arrive at your destination, you should cover up your baby before bringing them into the cold elements. Even if your baby is bundled up, it is best to have some kind of cover over the car seat so your baby is not directly exposed to elements such as wind, rain and snow.
A good combination is to get a fleece suit and pick up one of our car seat covers here to help shield them from the elements. This will help shield light winds and prevent snow from falling directly on your baby's face.
There are also fleece lined covers that go over top of your carrier and zip close. This is another option for a car seat cover.
If you chose not to use cover, just make sure to bring a small baby blanket with you to cover your child up, especially if it is raining or snowing.
Hopefully you were able to learn about keeping your baby safe in the winter not only for traveling but safe from the cold and elements. Some of these were very obvious, but it is a good reminder of the little things that we should make part of our routine to keep our families safe and comfortable.
Just remember to double check the harness after you put the baby carrier into the car because they sometimes shift around, making a gap. Look for safe alternatives to your baby's thick coat. Finally, you can always snuggle your little one up after they are safely secure in their car seat.
We would love for you to share your winter tips in the comments below!!