How to Keep Baby Warm in Car Seat
Want to learn how keep your baby warm in a car seat?
Then this guide on best way for keeping baby warm in car seat is for you!
As the temperatures dip down, you start to dread loading up your kids in the car to head to the store. While staying home all winter sounds excellent, it’s not practical, so you have to know how to keep your baby warm in a car seat.
Most parents unzip their baby’s coat and put them in a car seat with their coats still on – we don’t want them to be cold after all! However, keeping kids in a puffy winter coat is quite dangerous and serious no-no.
That means we have to find out ways to keep our kids warm in a car seat, and luckily, it’s not as hard as you might think. Keep reading to learn some practical solutions for staying toasty in the car this winter with your baby.
And if you love this guide on best way to keep baby warm in car seat, then check out our guides on winter baby must haves, how to dress a newborn baby for sleep and when can babies sleep with a blanket. Or even our guide on how to keep baby cool in car seat!
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Why Babies and Kids Can’t Wear Coats in a Car Seat
Babies wore coats in car seats for years, so why all of a sudden is it dangerous?
It’s been dangerous all along, but we had no idea!
A bulky coat prevents a seatbelt or car seat harness from being snug enough to protect your child during a car crash. In addition, the additional layers cause too much space between your baby’s body and the straps, which increases the risk of ejection during a car accident or slamming on the brakes.
Talk about scary!
This is because most bulky winter coats have a lot of air and empty space inside them. During a collision, that air compacts with the force of the harness.
The general rule to remember is that it’s too bulky if you have to adjust the car seat’s harness to fit the coat. Believe it or not, this rule applies to adults and booster seats as well – yes, you shouldn’t even wear an oversized winter coat in the car!
The Pinch Test – Is Your Coat Safe in a Car Seat?
Some coats aren’t nearly as thick as others, so how are parents to know whether or not the coat they have is safe to wear in a car seat? The pinch test is the answer!
Experts say that you should not be able to fit more than two fingers in the space under the harness. If it’s more than that, it’s not truly safe.
Here’s how you do the pinch test.
Put your child into the car seat with his coat on, and buckle him in as you would if you were going somewhere. Then, take your child out of the car seat, remove the coat, and buckle him back into the car seat.
Don’t adjust the straps for this test!
If the straps are loose and you can pinch them between your fingers, you know the coat is too bulky and not safe to wear in a car seat.
10 Tips on How to Keep Baby Warm in Car Seat
We know that taking coats on and off in the car is a bit of a pain in the butt, but it’s an important safety step to take. If you end up in an accident, that single step might be life-saving.
1. Use Blankets
Grab a fabric bin and keep it in your car with blankets for all of your children. As soon as they get into the car and buckle up, cover their bodies with a snuggly blanket. Many kids end up with a favorite car blanket they want to keep with them whenever going somewhere.
Keep your baby warm and cozy while on the go with this 100% organic, GOTS certified stroller blanket! It has a breathable jersey shell and 100% polyester fill for extra warmth. It is reversible and comes in a range of gorgeous patterns and colors.
2. Cover Infant Car Seats with a “Boot”
If your baby is still in an infant car seat, many come with a “boot” or a cover for the winter. These slide over the bottom of the car seat, covering most of your baby’s body and protecting them from the winter weather.
3. Wear Hats!
Humans lose a lot of our body heat through our ears, which is why we often feel considerably warmer when wearing hats. Put a hat on your baby in the car; this simple step immediately helps him feel warmer than without one.
The biggest risk when putting a hat on your baby in the car is that if it’s not sized right, it could slip down over your baby’s nose. So make sure any hat you put on your baby is well-fitting.
4. Wear Fleece Coats Instead
Instead of a heavy winter jacket, consider using a fleece coat instead. Fleece is much thinner than traditional winter jackets, but fleece holds in heat well. Also, since these are thin, you won’t have to adjust the harness straps, making them safe to wear.
Remember, you don’t want to adjust the straps to accommodate the jacket!
Fleece is genuinely the magical winter fabric everyone needs. It might be thin, but it’s water-resistant. The Columbia fleece jackets are an excellent choice; they’re light yet keep kids toasty warm. And if you have a baby, then the fleece jumpsuits from Carters are also great alternatives that will keep your baby toasty warm.
5. Warm the Car Ahead of Time
This might seem like a no-brainer, but warm the car ahead of time when it’s cold outside. Many newer cars come with an auto-start option, and if it doesn’t, turn your car on and let it run for a few minutes.
Of course, if you have a garage, don’t let your car idle and warm ahead of time, but garage-kept vehicles tend to be warmer anyway!
Crank up the heat before anyone gets in the car, so when you get in after warming it, you can turn down the heat, and everyone feels comfortable.
6. Wear Coats Backwards
Here’s one of the easiest ways to keep a baby warm in a car seat – wear the coat backward. Put your baby into the car seat and put their arms through the coat but backward, so the back of the coat covers their torso.
Just a note, if you choose this method, ensure you use a coat without a hood to prevent any chance of the hood covering your baby’s face.
7. Put on Baby Hoodies
Baby hoodies are adorable, and since babies often pull off hats, the hoods are much harder to remove. Put a thin hoodie on your baby as an extra layer of warmth, and then put a hat over their ears. Neither of these will add bulk that will impact the car seat’s safety.
8. Go for Multiple Thin Layers
Layers are a great way to keep a baby warm in a car seat. Layering keeps your body temperature steady, so if it gets too warm in a car, you can remove a layer or two from your baby.
Depending on your baby’s age, this might mean a onesie under a long-sleeve shirt with a fleece jacket and a blanket. On the other hand, it might be a long-sleeved shirt with a fleece jacket and a blanket for older infants.
The recommendation is for babies to wear one more layer than adults feel comfortable wearing. It’s an easy guideline to remember when dressing your baby in the winter.
9. Don’t Forget Booties
Babies and socks don’t go together too well. It feels impossible to keep socks on their little feet, but we want our babies to be comfortable and warm.
That includes their feet and toes!
The answer is to use booties. The Husdon Baby Fleece Booties are strong and have a hook and loop closure around the ankle, so they can’t kick them off. In most weather, they work to be worn alone, but you also can wear these booties over socks for extra warmth.
10. Consider a Car Seat Poncho
Get a car seat poncho for your baby if you don’t already have one. These are warm ponchos, typically made of terry cloth or fleece that kids wear over their car seats.
It doesn’t go under their straps. Instead, you put it on them after they’re already buckled up safely. As a result, they aren’t bulky; the best way to describe a car seat poncho is that it’s a blanket kids can wear as they walk to the car and keep on since it goes over the straps.
A wearable blanket – sounds cozy, right?
Don’t Overheat Your Baby
In your quest to make sure your baby is warm in the car seat, make sure you don’t overheat your baby. They are sensitive to temperature and have a more challenging time regulating their body temp, including overheating.
Watch for signs that your baby might be too hot and need layers removed. For example, flushed cheeks and sweating are two signs that your baby is too hot.
Can a Baby Wear a Snowsuit in a Car Seat?
Snowsuits are unsafe to use in a car seat, just like you can’t use winter coats. They are filled with air, and it poses the same risk of not removing all the air.
Plus, wearing full snowsuits in a car seat could cause your baby to overheat.
Final Thoughts on Keeping a Baby Warm in s Car Seat
If you’re worried that your baby will be cold in their car seat this winter, don’t fret. You now know all the different ways to keep a baby warm in a car seat this winter; it’s easier than you thought!
And if you’re looking for more great baby guides, then check out these guides on how many blankets does a baby need, Graco classic connect vs click connect, and best convertible strollers.
Allison Banfield an experience mom of two, wife, writer, editor, and passionate parenting advocate! Backed with a Masters Degree in Public Health, a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion, a long career in health and safety, and 10 years of hands on experience using, researching, and testing baby products, Allison loves to use her parenting experience to support and encourage other parents.