Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coats and Car Seats

I'm admittedly anal very strict when it comes to my kids' car seats. No, I haven't had them inspected by a professional although I keep saying I will. But I'm 99% sure they are installed correctly and they don't ride in cars without a car seat. (There was that one time in the middle of winter when I was 38 weeks pregnant with Z2 and decided me and Z1 could walk to the avenue--him in his snowsuit. He got so tired and absolutely refused to walk anymore. I tried carrying him but that couldn't work for too long with my huge belly so I sucked it up and took a cab home--with no car seat!) Z2 is also still rear-facing and will be until he reaches the 30 pound limit for rear-facing on his car seat. Z1 is in a seat that harnesses up to 65 pounds. Car seats laws are hardly enforced and most folks I know with kids had their infants forward facing when they turned one and used belt positioning boosters with their older kids (and sometimes even backless ones if one at all). So I know that I'm more concerned about car seats than most folks are (in real life, at least). Heck, I'm more concerned than the hubby who really just does not see the point and lets me alone worry about the car seats.

A few years ago, I first heard the warning that bulky winter coats interfere with the ability of car seats to keep children safe in the event of an accident. The idea is that in the event of an accident, the coat would compress and the child could get tossed out of the car seat.

I really want to keep the kids safe in the car and I'd feel horrible if anything happened that I could have potentially prevented. But we only have street parking and I really can't swing the $199 to get a remote start installed. I had been trying to run out there and start the car but I can't lock the doors with the engine running and no one in the driver's seat. I devised a plan to use the spare key to lock the doors manually. That was working but I have to say, it's really cold and another added step to the numerous steps it already takes to get out the house is just . . . exhausting.

So what I've been doing is just getting to the car, hurriedly turning it on, while we just sit in our coats. Then after I get the engine warmed a little, I turn on the heat full blast, take the kids' coats off and proceed to strap the kids in sans the bulk. They usually have a fleece jacket on underneath their bulky coats and I have fleece blankets to cover them up with.

But let me tell you, yesterday it was bitterly cold. The wind was whipping around. I did not want to be fussing with taking coats on and off (although I did) and so I've just been thinking about a better way to go about this while keeping the kids the safest.

I did a google search and (surprisingly) didn't find many "official" sources on the dangers of bulky coats in car seats. Nonetheless, it makes sense to me that the coat would compress in an accident and I'm always surprised to see how much space there is in the harnesses if one of the kids was wearing something bulky the day before and is wearing something thin the day of.

In doing my google search, I found this:

And here's another good link with pictures how safely wearing a winter coat in the car seat should look.

I think it's a good compromise. All you have to do is make sure the harnesses are as tight with the coat on as they are with the coat off. So I think I'll try this safer way to wear jackets in the car seats.


Anonymous said...

This is SUCH a dilemma for us and since I live near you do, i KNOW how cold it was yesterday.

I so badly want to just loosen the daggone straps since we always have Amaya with her coat and snow pants on, but my partner is against it and I understand why,.

I saw the tips you've posted but what do you think can be done for snow pants? She goes to the sitter and usually needs to wear something thinner so wearing heavier pants is a pain.

Sorry for all the questions but I'm so happy you posted this topic!

The Original Wombman said...

Hmmm . . . I don't know what can be done for snow pants but if you're willing to put out a little extra money . . . a year or so ago, I scored while thrifting a Patagonia snowsuit ( If you click the link I linked to in that post, you'll see it retails for almost $100 but it is so warm as to be unbelievable and very, very thin. That's a good option. Other than that, the only thing I can think off is long johns. At Amaya's diaper change, it would be easy to take them off.

Such a conundrum!!! Let's all move to San Diego!

Anonymous said...

Today I tried unzipping the coat and sort of putting it through the straps and it worked like a charm!!! Since she was home with us today (I saw all the snow while I was getting her ready for the sitter and decided to keep her home), she didn't need the snowpants because we were going to be in the car instead of the train or stroller. Instead, I just put thick tights under her pants.

Thank you SO MUCH again for this post. It has truly helped.

The Original Wombman said...

LibT, I'm so glad it was helpful to you! I've been doing this method since I found it and I am quite happy with it too. Yahoo!! :)

Dee said...

This was quite helpful! I just had all my seats checked by AAA last month since we had trouble getting the babe's seat installed properly. The tech recommended nothing between the child and the seat, but really, how is that practical for extremely cold days? We do warm up our car before everyone gets in, but I hate to deal with putting on coats right before getting out in the winter. PITA.

Melanie Harris said...

geez that looks aweful.

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