Posted in Parenting

Did You Know? Winter Car Seat Safety

A quick note on comments before you start reading this post.  Since this seems to be a touchy subject and that parents on either side of the discussion can be quite, um, passionate, about their point of view.  Because of this, I reserve the right to moderate or delete any comment that I consider to be inappropriate in its tone or content.  We are all adults, it is quite possible to defend one’s point of view in a respectful manner.

Thank you.

***

I’ve been debating whether I should actually write this post or not.  You see, writing it has the potential to earn me a fair bit of flak because it is a subject, just as a few others in parenting, that seems to have two well-defined and opposite camps.  Anyways, here I go.

What you need to know is this: I am not perfect.  I know, shocker, right (*fake gasp*).  I am also known to compulsively follow rules and compulsively read about a subject that grasps my attention until my brain is about to explode.

Did I mention that I was a bit compulsive?

A short (read: very short) while ago, as I was compulsively researching the best harness to booster seat for my toddler (’cause, y’know, the baby is getting just a biiiiiit heavy and big for her bucket seat), I came across a post that made the voice inside my head go: “say whaaaaaat?!?!”

Just like that ^^^
Just like that ^^^

You see, after about 2 years, 3 months, 1 week and 6 days (give or take a few hours) of being a mother, I learned that to properly secure my kids in their car seats, I should strap them in sans winter coat.

Go ahead, say it: “Bad mama!”

(For the record, adults should forgo the bulky coats too).

Now, in all seriousness though, the arguments behind the information that I should not strap my children in their car seats with their winter coats on makes perfect sense (you’ll see why later on).  The revelation, however, has left me a few things that I have trouble wrapping my head around.

1.  Why was I never told this?  I mean, I know it’s my job to be informed about the finer and not so finer points of parenting (ie: safety), but I very honestly had no idea about this.  Granted,  I did not read any of my car seat installation manuals (in which this point is covered) cover to cover.  I read what I needed to make sure that my child would fit in the seat and read what I needed to securely secure in a secure fashion (sorry, sorry, I’ll stop) the car seats in our cars.  BUT, it would seem that it would have been pertinent to know this a little earlier in this parenting gig.  I mean, at the hospital, they talk about shaken baby syndrome, they talk about putting your littles down on their backs to sleep, they make sure you are able to feed and bathe your child properly and they don’t allow you to leave the hospital until they have seen your newborn strapped into his/her car seat to make sure you know how to transport them safely.  But never do they say anything about coats and car seats at the hospital (or anywhere else for that matter).

2.  Why have I never seen anyone do this?  It gets cold where I live.  I’m talking -25 Celcius plus windchill.  And the cold lasts for several months.  Despite the fact that parents seem to be split 50/50 on the subject, never in my whole two years of parenting have I ever seen anyone strap their kiddo in their car seat without their coats on unless it was a baby that was in a bucket seat with a winter cover.

3.  How can I manage this with two young kiddos and, more importantly, do I want to manage this?

Now, I’ve read a few (read: a lot of) articles on the subject recently and they all include tips and tricks to do this.  I thought I’d share some of them with you.

  • Park you vehicle in a heated garage.
  • Buy a cozywoggle (advertised as the only winter coat that is car seat safe) for each of your kids.
  • Put the coat on the wrong side (ie: zipper in the back).  Once in the car, sit your kid, unzip, remove arms from sleeves, buckle up your kid and keep the coat on top of him/her to keep warm.
  • Remove coat once in the car and cover kiddo(s) with a blanket kept inside the vehicle.
  • Dress you littles in enough layers to keep them warm for their trek to the vehicle.
An example of layering.  Photo used with permission.
An example of layering. Photo used with permission.
  • Let your car warm up in the driveway before putting the kiddos in (for those of you who live in a place with anti-idling laws, I’ve read that there is a caveat that allows for idling for up to 15 minutes in a 1h period if the temperature is below or above a certain point).
  • Move to a place that doesn’t have winter.  (It would seem that Malta is one of the most temperate spots in the world)

Now, these are all great tips and I could use any one or combination of them, BUT, do I want to?  I’m trying to imagine the logistics of it all.

If I want to warm up my car ahead of time, that means that I have to leave the toddler and 6 month old alone in the house while I run outside to start my car.

If I want to put their coats on and them remove them once in the car, I still have to expose them to (sometimes) umbearibly cold winds as I keep the car door open to strap them in.  (And though the cozywoggle really is a wonderfully innovative product, I still have to unzip and expose my kids’ arms and torso to the chilly temps as I strap them in).

I don’t have access to a heated garage (unless we demolish the wall that’s separating it in two).

Oy!

In all fairness, I could manage pulling this off when I have a long road ahead of me.  For instance, I am considering (“considering” being the key word in the sentence) doing this when I make the 30 minute drive to and from daycare.  Maybe.

Methinks I can at least get baby girl out of the convertible infant car seat and back into her heavy muscle-making bucket seat, throwing a blanket over her until the weather gets warmer (now that I’ve removed her winter sleep sack, she should fit).

But when I have quite a few errands to run and I am alone with my two littles?  No, I won’t do it.

Food For Thought.

I thought I’d share this with you.  I put Amélie in her winter snowsuit in her bucket seat and tightened the straps until they passed the pinch test.  Then, without loosening the straps, I got her out of her snowsuit and put her back in the bucket seat where she failed the pinch test…miserably…

What do you do, coat or no?  Did you know about this?  If so, how/when did you hear about it?

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Thirty-something year old discovering the joys and bumps of motherhood.

4 thoughts on “Did You Know? Winter Car Seat Safety

  1. Tu fais le mieux que tu peux – pas de culpabilité ou de doute – tu fais le mieux que tu peux…. Je t’M.
    Moi je me fis à ton gros “bon sens”, ce n’est pas inquiétant tu es la meilleure des mamans.

  2. Well, had I known that 3 years ago, I think my life would have been a lot easier. My poor kids were both squeezed into their seats like little sardines in the winter. That makes complete sense.

    1. It does actually make sense. And despite the fact that I was reluctant about the idea, I actually tried it and was surprised that it’s actually not *that* complicated to get the toddler in without his coat (not to mention that I don’t hear him complain that he’s too hot or feels stuck the whole way home).

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