I felt compelled to write a post about this important safety issue: Why snowsuits/coats in carseats are a big no no!
I am no expert in this and therefore am only quoting and surmising what I have read. Please do not misinterpret this or hold me responsible, please make your own decisions and read up on this issue yourself. The leaflet I have quoted is located here: http://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/resources/2014/08/CY-049.14-Using-car-seats-safely-in-winter.pdf
The main point of this blog post is to draw attention to the issue of why snowsuits and car seats are not a safe combination. Basically snowsuits and bulky padded jackets are not safe. In a crash the snowsuit can compress and therefore the straps holding your precious baby in place are no longer tight.
I have written the above using the information within the Oxford NHS leaflet: Using Car Seats Safely In Winter (located here):
“in winter as it is hard to tell whether your harness is fitted securely if your child is wearing a thick coat or
For a car seat harness to work properly, it needs to be tightly secured against your child’s chest. When a child wears a snowsuit or thick coat, the straps are often adjusted to the thickness of the coat, not the chest. However, if the car was in an accident, the coat could compress, making the straps too loose, reducing the level of protection for the child.
Overheating can also be another problem with thick coats and snowsuits.”
So what does all of this mean… it means do not use bulky jackets or snowsuits in winter in the car. You will generally turn the heating on in the car anyway, so baby will be warm enough. You will generally be able to see baby much clearer if they are not wearing a bulky jacket or snowsuit. Most of all, by not wearing thick padded jackets or coat your baby will not be in a car seat which could become loose in an accident.
Test your baby’s clothes
There is a really simple test to check if the suit/jacket is too padded (again quoted from the same Oxfordshire NHS leaflet)…
Do the two finger test:
- Put the coat on your child.
- Strap your child into the car seat and tighten to ensure a snug fit.
- Remove your child from the car seat without loosening the straps.
- Take the coat off your child.
- Strap your child back into the seat but don’t adjust the straps.
- Do the two finger test. If you can fit more than two fingers underneath the harness at your child’s shoulder bone, the harness tension needs to be tightened, or avoid using the coat in the car seat.
(quoted from “Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust: Children’s Universal Services: Information booklet: Using car seats safely in winter” which you can view here)
From what I also understand, you do not want to use any thick fleecy cover which goes under baby (between baby and the carseat) as this can also compress (again you can check anything you are using with the car seat using the two finger check above).
I’ve been led to understand it’s best to use several thin layers which do not compress. Just do the check to see if you have slack in the straps.
Illustrating the problem:
My photos below illustrate my daughter (who is one) wearing her snowsuit in the car seat, followed by a photo of her without the snowsuit and the straps still as they were with the snowsuit.
Here you can see how loose the straps really are… Scary isn’t it!!
I’ve also shown the reverse of this process… So first she sat in the car seat with just her vest/top and leggings on, and I tightened the straps. Then you can see the picture with the snowsuit on and how much extra I have to let the straps out to get the buckle to clasp…. A good couple of inches.
Update: November 2017
I’ve since read suggestions to put little one’s coat on backwards, once they are strapped in i.e. strap them in and then pop their coat on backwards over their arms and covering the seatbelt. From what I’ve been led to believe, this could hinder them being removed from the car, i.e. In an emergence as the coat has to be removed before he seatbelt undone. It’s much quicker to remove a blanket.
Please be safe, and PLEASE research this yourselves to make your own decisions,
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