Winter can be a tricky time for car seats and ensuring your infant, or young child, is staying warm, yet the most important thing is to make sure they are safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shares some helpful tips for families, listed below, to support the perfect balance to help ensure your child is snug, warm, and safe while in their car seat. The tips provided are appropriate for all ages.
- Store the carrier portion of the infant seats inside the house when not in use. Keeping the seat at room temperature will reduce the loss of the child’s body heat when in the car.
- Get an early start. We know there’s a lot to gather when we’re heading out the door, whether for the school day, running errands, or gathering together with friends and family. Whatever the excursion is, you have a lot to assemble and your child or infant may not always be the most cooperative the moment it’s time to head out the door. In addition, wintry conditions also require extra planning and timing!
- Dress your child in thin layers. Starting with close-fitted layers on the bottom, such as tights, leggings, or long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warmer top, such as a sweater or thermal knit shirt. A thin fleece jacket over the top of the shirt works as well. In very cold weather, long underwear is also a warm and safe layering option. As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you are wearing a coat, your infant will need their coat and a blanket, but removing the coat and blanket inside the car before putting your child in the car seat.
- Heads, Hands, and Feet. Hats, mittens, and socks or booties help keep children warm without interfering with car seat straps. If your child prefers to suck their thumb, consider half gloves with open fingers, or keep an extra pair or two of mittens available, as once the mitten is wet, it’ll make your child colder rather than warmer.
- Tighten the straps of the car seat harness. Multiple layers make it difficult to tighten the harness enough. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child’s chest.
- Use a coat or blanket over the straps. Add a blanket over the top of the harness straps or put your child’s coat on backwards (over the buckled harness straps) after the child is bucked in. Other ideas include a poncho-style coat that zips down the sides. Keep in mind the top layer should be removable so the child doesn’t get too hot after the car warms up.
- Use a car seat cover ONLY if it does not have a layer under your baby. Nothing bulky should go underneath your child’s body or between the body and the harness straps. Be sure to leave the baby’s face uncovered to avoid trapped air and suffocation. Many retailers carry car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in the car seat.
- Use the link above from AAP to read any other pertinent and helpful safety reminders and information!