infant in car seat - how to keep baby warm

How to Keep Baby Warm in Car Seat this Winter – 5 Safety Practices

5 Safety Practices on How to Keep Baby Warm in Car Seat this Winter

Winter, as always, is the coldest season of the year, opposite of summer and you can learn 10 tips on how to keep baby cool in car seat.

In preparation for the cold, you have to learn how to keep baby warm in car seat, or maybe you are pregnant at the moment and will be due in the winter; it is also essential to learn how to keep newborn warm in a car seat. Here’s a guide on when to buy a car seat when pregnant.

The average temperature in winter is just above the freezing point at 33.2 °F (0.7 °C). While in states like Hawaii and Alaska, it averages 67.4 °F (19.7 °C) and 2.6 °F (-16.3 °C), respectively. This is far lower than the optimal range for a baby (between 68 °F – 72 °F). As such, you want to ensure your baby is warm when in the car seat.

How To Keep Newborn Baby Warm in Car Seat in Winter

Being a newborn, their body is not yet developed to regulate low temperatures through body fat which they don’t have yet. They also can’t shiver yet, which helps increase internal heat.

On the other hand, you should only consider going out with your baby when it is very important and when you can safely do so.

warm woolen baby hat and booties
warm woolen baby hat and booties

Safe Practices to Keeping Baby Warm in Winter Car Seat

  1. Take safety first – this is the first step to take. Ensure you are aware of what the weather condition for the day will be like before going out. You should not take your baby out when it gets below freezing.
  2. Consider the type of car seat – while you may have gotten a car seat already, you may skip this but still take note of helpful tips here.

    If you are still planning a car seat to buy while pregnant, consider the type of car seat you’ll be getting. Most parents will want to go for a convertible car seat which has a longer expiration date than infant seats and can be used as rear-facing and forward-facing.

    A good option for the winter will be an infant seat. An infant seat has a detachable base and is lighter and more convenient to carry. An infant seat gives you the avenue to bundle your baby properly in the house before securing them in the seat and carrying them to the vehicle.

    A convertible car seat with a detachable base will be heavy to carry.
  3. Warm up the car – while in summer, you consider cooling the car with the A/C before bringing your baby on, but in winter, you do the reverse. Consider pre-warming the car before bringing on your baby.
  4. The right dressing – the type of clothing matters very much for a car seat. Thick winter clothing like a coat is not recommended for a baby in a car seat. This is because it doesn’t allow the straps to be snugly fit around a child.

    In the event of a car crash, the coat will compress and create a big space between the straps and the baby leaving them prone to injuries. Consider dressing your baby in layers.

    The following steps are how to dress a baby for winter in car seat as recommended by Molly Broder, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY and the American Academy of Pediatrics;

    1. The bottom layer can be snug-fitting clothing like leggings, tights, and a bodysuit.
    2. The next layer can be a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
    3. While the top layer can be a thin fleece jacket, with a hat, mittens and booties for the hands and feet.

So, from inside the house, first, secure your baby in the car seat dressed in two layers and then finish off with the third layer. You can now use a coat or a blanket to cover after you must have secured your baby in the car seat.

Always check up on your child to see that they are as comfortable as possible. When the car must have gotten warm enough, you can remove the blanket or coat, so the baby doesn’t get overheated.

More on types of clothing to keep baby warm in car seat will come soon after these safe practices. Keep reading…

5. Double-check the car seat straps – this is a safety measure you should note. Since the layers of clothing on your child would have taken up some space, you may think the straps are already tight. Do not assume. Double-check the harness to ensure the straps are snugly fit. You can carry out the pinch test, which was described on how to loosen Graco car seat straps. When you pinch the straps at the chest, your fingers should not snap, meaning it is tight enough.

pinch test to check tightness
pinch test to check tightness

Don’t forget to use a blanket or your child’s winter coat backward (with the arms through the armholes) to cover over the harness straps.

how to baby warm in car seat
not the right way – the straps are not tight because of the coat

What Should Baby Wear in Car Seat in Winter and FAQs

Now you have a good idea of safety practices to keep your baby warm in car seat. We will now look into the types of clothing to wear for a baby.

Fleece Jacket – Can Baby Wear Fleece Jacket in Car Seat?

Yes, a baby can wear a fleece jacket in a car seat as it is light and can let the seat straps snug fitly around your child while still keeping them warm without compromising on safety.

Fleece jacket is a lightweight jacket made from polyester synthetic wool, making it a perfect combo to keep warm and use in a car seat.

A good advantage of a fleece jacket is that you don’t need to take it off while in the car seat as much as it keeps them warm enough in the car as you would do for a coat. So, when you dress your baby in a fleece from inside the house, you get to your car, fit the seat to the base, and off you drive. Save some extra time.

For infants (less than 12 months), a fleece jumpsuit by Carter’s will be a good option. Carter’s fleece fits well for car seats’ harness and are really affordable.

While for toddlers and older children (over 1 year), the Columbia fleece will be a preferable choice, and they come for boys and girls.

Snowsuit – Can Your Baby Wear a Snowsuit in A Car Seat?

Snowsuits, supposedly, are the perfect clothing to keep a baby warm in winter, but they are absolutely a NO for a car seat, including the safety seat belt, because the straps will not secure the child tightly. As such, it is not safe to wear snowsuits for children in a car seat.

However, there’s a little hack that can help a bit for older children in booster seats.

When your child is dressed from the house and you get to the car, they can pull down the snow suit to the knee level and be restrained by the seat belt and then cover with a coat backward (that is, with the arms through the armholes).

Winter Coat – Can Babies Wear Coats in Car Seats

No, a baby should not be dressed up in a winter coat when in a car seat. This is because the car seat straps will not secure the baby tightly, allowing the child to possibly move out of the seat in the event of a car crash.

Instead, you should dress your baby in layers and use the coat backward to cover your child after securing them in the car seat.

How to Bundle Baby in Car Seat Properly

  1. Dress up your baby in their winter gear (winter coat) and secure in the car seat.
  2. Tighten the harness straps and do the pinch test (pinch the strap at the chest with your fingers. The straps should not snap).
  3. Unbuckle the strap without loosening it and bring out your baby from the infant seat.
  4. Take off their coat, put your baby back in the seat, and secure with the straps.
  5. Perform the pinch test again. If it snaps this time, the coat is fit to be used in the car seat.
    What Next to do;
  6. Secure your child in the car seat without the coat but in layers, as explained earlier. Ensure the harness is tight enough.
  7. Then use a blanket to cover your baby.
  8. For older children, use the coat backward (with their arms through the armholes) to cover your child.

Consumer Reports has a great video you can watch, and you can also read the article on there on how to secure a baby in car seat this winter.

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