It’s cold out, and no doubt little ones are bundled up for warmth. But, while those layers may be protecting them from the cold, they actually pose a hazard in the car.
Bulky winter coats don’t allow the straps of the car seat to be tight to the child. In the unlikely event of a car crash, the coat will compress and make the straps loose.
The Importance of the Pinch Test
To make sure your child is secure in the seat, take the “pinch test.” First, remove any bulky jackets or snowsuits before placing your child in the car seat. Next, adjust the harness straps to the correct height for your child – at, or just below, the child’s shoulders when rear-facing, or at, or just above the shoulders when forward-facing. Next, buckle and tighten the straps.
Place the chest clip at armpit level and secure.
Now pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
Options for Keeping Kids Warm and Safe in Their Seats
For infants, you can find blanket covers that fit over the car seat once they’re strapped in. Lighter-weight fleece body suits are also as option (and let’s be honest, adorable with little bear ears).
For older infants and even toddlers, you can tuck a blanket around them once they are strapped into their seat.
And while it may look silly (although kids may actually find it fun), remove the winter coat, strap the child into the seat and the put the coat on backwards so the child’s front is covered.
The Importance of Car Seat Safety Checks
Every car seat is different and even with an instruction manual it can be challenging to figure out whether the seat is properly installed, not to mention whether the child is as secure as he or she should be. Some experts suggest that as many as 90 percent of parents make mistakes installing and using car seats. Many local organizations offer free car seat safety checks (by appointment only). Certified child passenger safety technicians will help you ensure the car seat is properly installed and that your child is safely secured in the seat.
Check out the calendar of upcoming car seat checks in the Madison area.