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Offered by Dawn M. Dycus, M.D., – Brighton Pediatrics

Winter is here, bringing with it freezing temperatures and snowy weather. This means bundling up against the cold weather outside. However, those bulky winter coats and snowsuits do not fit close enough to the body underneath the straps of a car seat. In a car crash, the padding of the coat or suit can compress down quickly, leaving extra space under the straps of the harness. This extra space can mean too much body movement during the crash (causing injuries) or allow the child to slip out from under the straps and be thrown around the car. This is why bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness straps of a car seat.

The AAP has some tips to help keep children both warm AND safe in the car seat. These include:

  • Dressing your child in thin layers. Start with close-fitting layers such as tights, leggings, or bodysuits on the bottom, followed by a layer of pants and a warmer top. A thin fleece jacket as a third layer is OK, as long as it is not too bulky. Try to dress infants (children < 1 year old) in 1 extra layer than older children and adults.
  • Don’t forget hats, mittens, and extra socks or booties.
  • Check the tightened straps of the car seat. If you can pinch the strap between your fingers at all, then it is too loose.
  • Place a coat or blanket over the straps after your child is buckled in.
  • Use a car seat cover only if it does not have a layer underneath the infant or child.
  • Get an early start. Driving in wintry conditions will slow you down and require you to be extra cautious with driving.

Stay safe in the car seat this winter! More information can be found at

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