In cold weather, we bundle our children up to prepare them for the elements. But a bulky coat and a car seat can be a dangerous combination.
Consumer Reports' Emily Thomas says the harness might not be tight enough to secure your child in a crash.
With the help of 5-month-old Ben, she demonstrated a quick way to check if your child's coat is too big and bulky to wear under the car seat harness.
They first put Ben in his snowsuit and properly secured him into his car seat so there was no slack in the harness straps.
Then they removed Ben's coat and put him back in the seat to see how loose the straps were, and sure enough, there was a significant amount of extra space.
Emily says, "In the event of a frontal crash, all this extra room means that there's so much space for Ben to be able to ride up, and for his head to be outside the protection of his shell, which means he could have a head injury."
You can use the same test for bigger kids to see how much room their puffy coat puts between them and their harness.
Emily says, "In addition to not wearing a coat, always make sure that your child is properly harnessed every time. You should not be able to pinch any fabric, and their chest clip should always be at armpit level."
But how can you keep your child safe and warm in the car? For a baby, Consumer Reports recommends first securing her into her seat and then putting a blanket on top of the harness. And for bigger kids, teach them this cool trick of wearing their coat over the harness for riding in the car.
You can also get ponchos or capes that are made to fit safely with a car seat.
Consumer Reports also suggests you periodically go to a car seat checkup event to make sure your seat is properly installed. You should do that throughout the year - especially anytime you take a car seat in and out your vehicle.
Ways to keep your child bundled up and safe in a car seat