Winterizing your child’s car seat

When the weather turns cooler, we all get our jackets and coats out of the closet. Did you know that putting your infant or child in their coat or blanket before putting them in their car seat can greatly affect the way the car seat is designed to work’ The harness straps in car seats are designed to lie flat and snug against your child. When they are adjusted properly, there should be no slack in the harness system. If you wrap your baby in a blanket before placing him in the car seat, and loosen the harness straps to accommodate the extra cloth…you have put slack into the system. The same thing happens if you put a coat on your toddler and loosen the straps before buckling him in his seat. In a collision, this extra fabric and padding will compress and cause slack in the harness system, which will allow your child to move further forward during a crash before being stopped by the harness straps–increasing the injuries they will suffer. So what should you do’ First, always keep your child in the clothes they will be wearing when they are indoors. Place the child in the infant seat or car seat, making sure the harness straps are snug over the shoulders and that they lie straight and flat down to the buckle. Buckle the child in and and then put the coat or blanket over them’on top of the harness system. You can even turn the coat around and put arms through the sleeves after the child is buckled into their car seat. This will ensure your kids are kept snug in their seat, the harness system is able to do its job in the event of a crash, and that the kids stay warm. Remember to check your safety seats often and look for stress marks or hairline cracks on the shell, frayed harness straps, torn padding, etc. You can contact the manufacturer for replacement parts. For more detailed information on car seats and car seat safety, please see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at

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