Children, Parenting, Safety

One Harmful Mistake to Avoid When Traveling in the Car with Your Child this Winter and How to Fix It

I’ve checked 1,000’s of car seats and buckling the child in wrong is one of the MOST common mistakes! Winter is upon us which means colder temps outside. Time to get the winter coats, hats, and gloves to keep us warm. But did you know that buckling your child in their car seat with a puffy winter coat on can be very dangerous?

We all hope we are never in a big car crash. It’s not IF we will be in a big crash, but WHEN. According to the CDC, motor vehicle traffic-related deaths were the LEADING cause of all unintentional injury deaths among those between 0 and 19 years. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference in walking away from a crash.

The Problem

When we go out in the cold, we want our little ones to be warm. We bundle them up as cozy as we can. We put cute little one piece snowsuits on our babies. We put our toddlers and kids in thick winter coats and we’re ready to go! Then we try to buckle them into their car seats and what happens? The harness is too tight! In turn, we loosen the harness to get them to fit into their car seat.

The PROBLEM with this is LOOSENING the harness. It may feel like the harness is snug because it’s sitting on top of their thick winter coats. But when a car is in a crash, that winter coat or snow suit WILL COMPRESS and the child’s harness will be VERY loose. You NEVER want to loosen a harness in order to get a child wearing a big coat to fit into their car seat. This could cause the child to be ejected or seriously injured. Let’s prevent this by following a simple tip before we buckle our kids in and drive off.

The Simple Solution To Keep Your Child Safe

When you buckle your child into their car seat, put them in a light jacket and buckle them in where the harness straps are snug. You want to do the “pinch test.” This is where you pinch the webbing or straps on the child’s shoulders and you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slacking. If you can pinch any webbing, tighten the harness a little more.

A snug harness helps hold your child in their car seat in the event of a crash or sudden stop and reduces injuries significantly. This is the MOST COMMON error I see when checking car seats. Remember, you don’t want the webbing so tight that the harness is digging into the child’s shoulders, but it should be comfortably snug.

Buckle THEN Bundle

Buckle your child in their car seat then cover them up. For infants, make sure to put their blanket or cover OVER their harness straps after they are buckled. NEVER put a blanket or any other padding in between their body and the harness. Always buckle THEN bundle the baby.

Buckle in with light jacket then cover with a blanket on top of harness

For older kids, take off their winter coat before buckling them in. Buckle them into their car seat and then put their winter coat on backwards over their arms so it’s like a blanket. The coat should sit right over their harness. They will be riding safe and keeping warm. You could also keep a blanket in the car for the older child to put over their harness or seatbelt if needed.

Sleepy baby all snug and safe!

By doing this simple thing, you are making a BIG difference in keeping your child safe and protected while traveling this winter. We can’t always avoid bad weather or distracted drivers, but we can make simple decisions to keep our children safe and to prevent unnecessary injuries. Have a beautiful and safe winter!

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