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Are coats and covers safe to use in car seats?

During the winter, you might be tempted to use covers or inserts in your child’s car seat to keep them cozy and snug. But are these coats and covers safe to use in car seats? We asked Lorrie Walker, Safe Kids Worldwide training manager and technical advisor.

Are car seat covers safe?

The short answer is no. Car seat manufacturers advise parents not to use any product in the car seat if it isn’t made by the manufacturer.

“There are a lot of aftermarket products that don’t meet flammability standards,” says Walker.

Can my child wear a coat in the car seat?

Walker says it is very difficult to secure your child if he is wearing a winter coat or lots of layers. “You can’t get a good fit in the harness with a puffy jacket. You’re restraining the jacket and not the child.”

She recommends draping your child’s coat over the car seat, after you have buckled him in securely.

How can I tell if the car seat is secured properly in the winter?

Walker suggests a simple exercise to test your child’s car seat:

  1. Put your child’s jacket on and then put him in the car seat, buckling and tightening the harness.

  2. Unbuckle the harness without loosening it, and remove your child from the car seat without adjusting the harness.

  3. Take your child’s coat off and put him back in the car seat and buckle him in.

If the harness is loose without the coat on, your child is not being restrained properly. While this process takes a few minutes, it’s an easy way to check.

How can I keep my child safe in the car during winter?

If possible, you should warm up the car before putting your child in during the extremely cold winter. You can also drape coats and blankets over your children AFTER tightly securing their car seats.

Finally, you should keep a few items on hand, in case you get stuck for long periods of time. Walker recommends the following items for your cold-weather emergency kit:

  • Diapers

  • Snacks

  • Water

  • Warm clothes

  • Blankets

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