"I won't take my child's jacket off in the car seat."

"Nothing has happened yet"

"Show me proof you should do it."




My child doesn't fit as well in the car seat with her winter coat on. Do I need a new seat?

No, take the coat off.  A fluffy winter coat will introduce slack into the harness in a crash, which could lead to ejection for the child.  The fluff in the coat will compress greatly, creating "dead space."  There are many polar fleece coats on the market now that are thin enough to use under a harness, yet can keep a child very warm.  Land's End and LL Bean sell very warm polar fleece jackets that are relatively thin.  Also, consider putting the child into the car seat, then putting the coat on backwards after she's buckled in.  Or try heating a bag of rice in the microwave for a minute or so, then putting it in the car seat for a minute to warm it up.  Remove it and put the child into the seat.  The Cozy Rosie is a thick blanket that will keep a child safely warm in a car seat. A Car Seat Poncho is also a nice alternative and stays on the child without getting between the child and the harness. Infant seats can be covered by shower cap-style fleece covers as long as there's no padding placed behind the child in the seat as a part of the cover. Always keep extra heavy blankets in the car for everyone.  (Source: SBS USA, Car-Safety.org)


Is there a law about coats and car seats?
There is no law regarding this but rather a rule of thumb. 

So then it's okay for my baby to wear her cute puffy pink jacket in her car seat?
I don't recommend that anyone wear a coat while in a vehicle. Coats are hot, uncomfortable, and they interfere with seat belts and harness straps in car seats.

But is it actually unsafe for my baby to wear a coat?
Yes. I have done tests with my children in their car seats—with and without coats. I firmly believe that no coat is best. An easy way to visualize what happens to a baby if they have a puffy coat on during a crash is to put the baby in the car seat with the winter coat on and buckle him in as usual. You will most likely have to loosen the straps to do so correctly. Now, take the baby out and put him back in the car seat without the coat but do not adjust the straps and buckle him in again. You'll see how loose those straps are—if in a crash, a coat would compress and could allow the child to become a projectile object by slipping through those loose harness straps.

That makes me nervous. I know you said that coats in cars can be hot, but I'm not so sure—it's really cold when we get in my car. I definitely want to keep my baby nice and safe. But I really want to keep her nice and warm too. Do you have any recommendations that will keep her safe and warm?
A thin fleece, a wind jacket, sweatshirt, simple layering as long as it cannot be compressed. There are now car seat ponchos on the market. Plus, it’s always best to keep extra blankets in your vehicle while traveling. It is completely safe to put a blanket on the child once he or she is secure in the car seat and tuck it in on the sides. Another option is to secure the child in the car seat and then put their coat on them backwards.


A Few More Tips…

> Remember take blankets and thick jackets when putting baby into her car seat. After she’s buckled in, you may place blankets or coats over her. The restraint system won’t work properly and the straps may be too tight if you buckle her in with blankets.

All you have to do is search "car seat manual jacket" and a whole list of sites, dedicated to car seat safety pop up.  Of course your child is fine now.  But what happens when you get into a car accident?  People asked for a few references.  Here they are.  If you choose to be ignorant on the subject, that is your choice.  If you choose to read up on it and still make the decision to keep the puffy jacket on instead of putting it on/taking it off in the car, that is your choice.  I will neither applaud, nor criticize the latter.  I just want to inform. 

I will offer kudos to moms who take the time to be "inconvenienced."

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Dec. 9, 2009 at 11:02 PM

Thank you! I actually had an argument with my MIL about this. She told me a horrible story of a baby that LIVED because she had been bundled up and the mother died on impact... so I told MIL that we have seat covers for the children. They are blankets that attach to the seat and keep the children warm. She chewed me out for about an hour on how stupid I was and how her grandkids were going to die because of me.

I am so thankful that someone else out there has actually researched it like I have.

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Dec. 9, 2009 at 11:37 PM


Thank you for your comment.  I am amazed that more people don't care or take te time to at least research.  My father is a firefighter/paramedic, so I know what happens when you don't make the effort.

Good luck with your mother in law.  : (


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