Winter time is arriving and we have to keep our little ones all bundled up so they stay warm. When we have to trek out in our vehicles though, we must remember that safety should always be thought of first. Your first instinct as a mom is to put your little precious munchkin in 20 layers of clothing PLUS the puffiest jacket that you can find so they stay nice and toasty. If you were just going on a walk to the park, this would be the perfect way to dress. However, if you are going for a ride and putting your little one in their car seat, this is the worst way to dress!
When you add thick layers or a puffy jacket to the mix, you usually will have to loosen the straps to be able to buckle them over your fluffy little person. This might seem nice and snug when you actually buckle them in. Looks can be deceiving though! If you were to get into a wreck, the force of impact can cause the coat to compress, loosening the straps on your child, which could allow for the possibility that the child could be ejected from the seat and/or car!
Check out the difference in the slack of the seat belt harness if you were to put your child back into the seat that was adjusted for a puffy coat.
Would you want your child to ride with a harness THIS loose? NO WAY! The scary part is, it is SO easy to think that the first picture shows safe car seat use. Your child should always have the harness strap tight enough to where no more than two fingers can slip under the harness at the shoulder while wearing REGULAR clothes.
Here are a few easy steps to determine if your child’s jacket is car seat safe…
1. Place your child in the car seat in the jacket of choice.
2. Buckle and adjust the harness straps to properly fit the child wearing the jacket in the seat.
3. Remove the child from the seat without disturbing the adjustments, take off the jacket and put the child back in the seat.
4. Without tightening the straps, buckle the child back into the car seat.
5. If you can fit more than two fingers under the straps at the child’s shoulders, they should NOT wear that jacket in the car.
Some thinner fleece jackets will pass the test! If the coat doesn’t pass the two finger test, a regular long sleeved shirt or sweater is the way to go. Cover up with a blanket or put that jacket on backwards after they are buckled in. Better yet, start your car a few minutes before you leave so it has time to warm up! So how do YOU keep warm when you roll??
photo credit: Britany Quick (Britany’s little man is 4.5 years old, 43 pounds and about 3.5 feet tall. He is riding in a Graco Nautilus 3-in-1.)