When driving in the car with small children, most parents and caregivers will naturally do everything they can to ensure the children in their care are safe. Fortunately, today’s vehicles are equipped with advanced safety technology. And with a PwC forecast showing about 107 million vehicles will be manufactured globally in 2020, car safety technology will continue to improve. But while cars are being made safer, not every family has the ability to keep up with this new technology; after all, if your car isn’t broken, why change anything? As always, the best safety features of any car seat are always going to be proper installation and use. That’s why it’s still important to ensure any child in a car seat is properly strapped in. Let’s take a look at a few important car seat safety tips to keep in mind this winter.
First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of how many layers your child is wearing. While your natural instinct may be to wrap your baby in a fluffy down parka, it’s best to not do that (no matter how cute they look). Too much clothing bulk can actually be dangerous. The car seat harness has to be as close to the child’s body as possible in order to do its job. When they’re wearing a thick coat, the harness won’t be as tight. And in the event of a crash, the coat will simply compress, creating slack in the harness. This essentially means that the harness straps aren’t tight enough and won’t be able to protect the baby. Additionally, all that fluff can actually make your baby too warm, causing them to potentially get overheated.
What to do instead? Simply dress your little one in thin layers of cotton or wool; neither will compress and wool has the added benefit of regulating your baby’s temperature. Better yet, find a coat specifically designed for car seat safety! If needed, a coat or blanket can be put on top of the baby over the car seat harness, or you can purchase a car seat cloak to maximize adorableness. This way, they can stay warm but still be tightly strapped in. You should also make sure there isn’t anything bulky behind the child’s back — any blanket should be fully in front so the child can sit right up against the back of the car seat. Stay away from pocket-style carrier covers as they will interfere with the harness, and go with the elastic-edged warm covers if you go that route.
It’s also important to give yourself extra time before leaving during the winter. If you have an infant rear-facing only seat, store the carrier part inside your home so it isn’t cold when you put the baby in. This has the added benefit of ensuring that you’re not standing outside in the rain or snow while fiddling with seat straps! Properly harnessing a child in can take a while, especially if the child isn’t exactly cooperative. So on cold winter mornings, give yourself plenty of time to get everything situated. You should be giving yourself extra time anyways if you have to drive in snowy weather. There are already about 5.4 million non-fatal car accidents in the U.S. each year and you don’t want to be in one of them.
With the cold temperatures and extra layers of clothing, it can be difficult to ensure a child is properly strapped into their car seat. Taking the extra time to make sure it’s done right can be beneficial — and it’s always worth the effort to be sure your child is safe. So be aware of dressing your baby in too many puffy layers, ensure they’re strapped in tight, and always be extra mindful when driving with children in the car.
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!