Car Seat Safety: Keeping Warm in the Car Seat

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We all want our kids to be warm in the car seat, but any car seat expert will tell you not to put your child in a puffy coat while in a car seat. A puffy coat or snowsuit can puff out a good inch or two from the body, which means that there is an inch or two worth of slack between your child and the harness. It may not seem like it when you are driving, but during a violent impact, the material in the coat compresses and could cause your child to be ejected from the car seat. This is a serious safety issue that many parents still aren’t aware of.

Before you say, “But I live in a cold climate and my child will freeze”, my children have survived both New England and Colorado winters without wearing a coat in the car without any problems or complaints of being cold. Also, once the car warms up, think about how uncomfortable you would be in a snowsuit. Your child also gets too hot.

Car Seat Safety: Keeping Warm While in the Car Seat

Here are our favorite tips for keeping the kids both warm and safe

Fleece pullover

This has been my solution for the past five years with my youngest son. Polar fleece pullovers are nice and warm but are thin so they won’t compress in a crash.  

Wear their coat backwards

This is another thing I’ve done with both of my kids. Once your child is safely buckled into the car seat, put their coat on them backwards over the harness. I do this most often on really cold days when a fleece isn’t enough to keep warm. We wear the coat to the car, take it off to buckle the harness, then put it back on over the harness. 


Similar to the backwards coat trick, keep a blanket in the car or wrap your baby in the blanket to go from the house to the car then cover them up once they’re buckled in. There are also blankets made specifically for use in car seats, or you can make one yourself if you’re crafty.

Finally, for preschoolers and older kids, this is my new and favorite alternative to the blanket and the coat…

Kid-sized Snuggie

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! With a kid-sized Snuggie, they are covered in warm fleece like a blanket, but still have use of their hands. They have more mobility than using their coat backwards and it is the perfect solution to the dilemma of keeping warm in the car seat.

Car Seat Safety: Keeping Warm in the Car Seat

More on car seat safety: 

Are You Making These 4 Common Car Seat Mistakes?

Are You Using Your Car Seat Correctly?

And just because they get gross:

How to Clean Your Nasty Car Seat Cover

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  1. Car seat safety during the winter months is so important.

    I’ve been meaning to make a fleece pullover for my daughter and still haven’t gotten around to it – but I still do the coat on backwards thing.

    Thanks for sharing. Pinned.


  2. Oh my gosh I’m horrible!! I never even thought about that!! All three of my babies have worn puffy jackets in their carseats. They’re older now, and now I feel like a cotton headed ninny muggins!!
    Tweeting this for other parents. Thanks for sharing.

    1. LOL! You’re not horrible at all, this is very common. My oldest son is a teenager now so at first he was in the seat in a snowsuit or coat. I didn’t find out about this until he was about 2 and that’s only because I considered becoming a CPST. When we know better, we do better.

  3. Yessss!!!! I get so many dirty looks and nasty comments when I talk about this part of carseat safety because I live in Atlantic Canada and is gets COLD here. ALL of these suggestions are perfect! I found a simple pattern for a carseat poncho on Pinterest and made one for my son for about $10. Easy, adorable, and safe.

    1. I’m sure that I’ve gotten the side eye from strangers when they see my kids in a fleece or watch me take their coat off. What shocks me is the number of people that argue with experts about this. That tells me that this needs to be talked about much more. I know that it sounds inconvenient, but it’s really not.

      I found the Snuggie on Amazon for $18, but those car seat blankets also look great.

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