Car seat safety is super important. We all know this. This means no wearing big winter coats while strapped into a car seat. That makes sense from a safety standpoint. But as someone who has lived in chilly climates I also know that, well, babies get cold! Ideally we could all warm up our cars and then load our babies, never exposing them to the chill. But that isn't always feasible. I for one spent last winter living in a home with an outside parking place around the corner from where we lived. I had to get a two and half year old and newborn twins out to the car by myself in freezing weather. Even if you do have a warm garage to load up in once you are out you can't just leave your kids in the store while you go warm up the car. So you need to be able to keep kids warm in a cold car. Here are some tips on how to keep your babies warm in their car seats, while still keeping them safe.
1) Thin layers. This is a go to for anyone in cold weather. I loved layering my babies in long sleeve onesies. It added extra warmth without a lot of bulk. If we just had to run in and out of the car try adding a long sleeve tshirt over top. It will be a little extra warmth that is easy to take off when you get in your destination.
2) Baby hoodies. I don't know about other babies, but mine have almost always pulled their hats right off. And before they were old enough to pull off their hats they would manage to twist around enough to get the hats in their eyes or just off anyway. Hoodies help solve that problem. You can find cute, thin hoodies in baby sizes and I love them. Again they don't add bulk that can impact car seat safety, but they offer up some head protection that stays in place. This also works on young toddlers who stubbornly remove their hats.
3) Put your child's coat on backwards. If you are strapping your baby into a bucket seat in your house this is super easy to do there. Just strap your baby in and then put the coat on over the straps. For a toddler in a convertible seat you can put the coat on backwards and just unzip when it is time to hop into the car seat. You have to take the arms out to strap them in, but at least you can take off one arm at a time instead of the whole coat.
4) Utilize the car blanket. When I was pregnant with my son I bought some fleece from the fabric store with the plans to make little blankets for him. Well... that didn't quite happen. But those fleece pieces are just fine as blankets on their own. In the winter I keep a couple in the car. They are cute, warm, and easy to throw in the washer if they get dirty. I like having the fun fleece because my son liked his patterns and was happy to have it on him in the car. It is the ultimate no-sew blanket. Just get about three feet of fleece from the fabric store and you're done! If you know ahead of time you are going to be super cold when you get into the car you can pick up a couple of little hand warmers to keep in the car. Activate one then wrap the fleece around it to keep it from getting too cold in your car while you are at your destination.
5) Consider a bundle me type product. I know, you aren't supposed to add anything to a car seat, but hear me out. For especially cold climates there are products that go around a car seat, kind of like a shower cap. They don't go between the child and the car seat straps, so they are safer. They are great for a baby who kicks off blankets. There are kinds with thin fleece that do go between the child and the seat, forming a little sleeping bag. They are great if you are out and about with your child in their stroller or just carrying the bucket seat around. For babies it is easier to use than a jacket. I also loved that I could tuck my baby's burp cloth, lovie, etc. in it while we were walking about town, like a giant pocket.
These are just a few of the ways I have found to keep my kids warm and safe in car seats in freezing temperatures. Do you have any suggestions on other ways to keep kids warm while maintaining car seat safety?
Kimberly blogs at teamcartwright.blogspot.com. She has a three year old son and twin ten month old daughters. She has spent three winters keeping her babies warm and safe in the freezing Midwest.
You can view more of my car seat safety posts here: