The costumes are starting to appear in stores, spooky decor is popping up everywhere, and kids are getting excited… it’s official: Halloween is almost here! Whether you go around your neighborhood or drive somewhere else for the big night, chances are you’ll be loading the kids in the car to various activities while they’re dressed to the nines. But did you know that just like poofy coats, costumes can be dangerous when worn in a car seat?
Lots of costumes have padding for muscles right in the chest area, like the Dash costume below, worn by my 6 year old. While these are awesome for authenticity, they are not so awesome when worn in a car seat. This is because the padding can create the false notion that a harness is properly snug when it’s not; this means if you’re in a crash your child is more likely to be injured or ejected from their harness. The crash force weight of their body against the harness cannot be replicated, so even if it looks tight… it’s probably not. Superhero costumes are not the only culprit, though; if you have to gather a skirt around your child’s hips to access the harness buckle it can cause the same issue.
My favorite way to check to see if a costume is truly safe under a harness is this: properly harness your child without their costume on. Ensure the straps pass the pinch test, chest clip in the right area, all that fun stuff. Now remove them from the seat but DO NOT LOOSEN THE STRAPS. After they have their costume on it’s time to put them in the harness again. If you can do it without loosening anything, the costume is safe.
For these photos I had him wear the costume first, tightened the harness as much as I could, and then removed it to check the straps. As you can see they do not pass the pinch test!
The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to have them put their costume on at their destination. If you can’t do that, pull the costume down to around their knees so you can access the crotch buckle.
And because I would be remiss to not mention pedestrian safety in a post about Halloween: dress your kids in bright or glow-in-the-dark clothing, affix reflective tape to their costumes, or have them carry glow sticks. Children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year! Make them as visible as possible and as a driver, stay focused on the roads and put away all distractions.
Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!
Dana is the lucky mother to two incredible kids (aged 10 & 6) and the happy wife of Nate. She stumbled around in her adult life for a while before finally realizing that she could get paid to pursue her passion: keeping kids safe. In 2013 she started working at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale where she eventually became a Child Passenger Safety Technician with additional Special Needs training. Dana also runs the child passenger safety-focused Facebook page Buckle Up Detroit and works with the amazing lady bosses at Metro Detroit Doula Services offering car seat classes, consultations, and more!