Fort Worth, Texas,
14:36 PM

It Will Do In A Pinch: Why Not To Wear Coats In a Car Seat

The quick test that can save your child's life

It’s time to pull out the bulky winter coat for the kids. Just make sure they aren’t wearing them in their car seat.

Our safety experts warn against strapping your child into a car seat with a bulky coat because it can affect the ability of your car seat to work properly.

“Winter coats should be put on outside of the harness to prevent extra slack in the harness when the coat is compressed,” said Katherine Rabbe, Community Health Outreach Injury Prevention Coordinator at Cook Children’s.

Safe Kids Worldwide advices parents to take the pinch test:

  1. First, remove bulky clothing and blankets.
  2. Make sure the harness straps are adjusted to the correct height – they should be at, or just below, the child’s shoulders when the child rides rear-facing, and at, or just above, the child’s shoulders when a child is forward-facing.
  3. Then buckle and tighten the harness straps.
  4. Place the chest clip at armpit level.
  5. Now pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

Ensure comfort and safety at the same time. To keep your child warm and toasty after you remove the bulky coat, you can place a blanket over the tightened car seat harness. 

“Car seats are a safety device and the best protection you can give your child in the car. However, you have to use them right, on every trip, every time,” said Sharon Evans, Trauma Injury Prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s. “Putting a coat or thick sweater under the harness of their car seat can cause the harness to be too loose and not protect your child during an a car crash”

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Comments 1 - 2 (2)
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Cook Children's
You are correct Jessica. The harness straps should be at, or just below, the child's shoulders when the child rides rear-facing, at, or just above, the child shoulders when a child is forward facing. A coat can be deceptive because you might think your child is fit snuggly in, but may not be because of the extra padding. Even grownups would be better off not wearing their winter coats for the same reasons.
Wearing the coat in the car seat is a no. I understand that. My husband says it's just for infants in a infant carrier. I tell him it's for forward facing and booster seats as well. Am I wrong?