Winter Car Seat Safety for Toddlers

During the winter, layering your children’s clothing is important to keeping them warm and healthy. However, these layers can negatively impact the safety a car seat provides for them. Here, the child education and development specialists at Celebree Learning Centers explain how to keep children both warm and properly secured in the car this winter season.

Wintry weather often means outfitting children in thick coats, vests, scarves and sweaters to keep them safe against frigid temperatures. While it is important for children to be properly clothed for winter weather, it is also important to remember how this will affect their ability to properly fit in their car seat.  When children are dressed in heavy winter layers, their car seat straps cannot properly secure them, leaving them vulnerable should a vehicle collision occur. Understanding best practices for car seat use can help ensure car seats continue to keep children safe and secure.

General Car Seat Considerations

Most children under two years old should be placed in a rear-facing car seat, as these are the safest for small children because they better support a child’s head, neck and spine. If your toddler is rather tall or large for their age, consult the height and weight chart on the car seat. Convertible car seats can be placed in a rear-facing or front-facing position, allowing for flexibility as a child grows. Know that booster car seats are not appropriate for young toddlers, and should not be used until a child has, at minimum, reached four years old, or maxed out the height and weight requirements of their front-facing car seat.

Winter Car Seat Safety Practices

Before securing a child into their car seat, remove any layers that are extremely heavy or puffy–dressing toddlers in several thinner layers, along with a hat and mittens, will allow them to stay warm while riding to their destination. Secure them into their car seat as the manufacturer’s directions state, ensuring that the shoulder straps are at or slightly below shoulders in a rear-facing model, and at or slightly above shoulders in a forward-facing model. Straps should be snug, without causing pain to the child–parents or caretakers should only be able to fit two fingers under appropriately secured straps.

A winter coat can then be worn backwards over secured straps, providing additional warmth. Children can then be outfitted in heavier winter layers after they have reached their destination, and before exiting the car. A car seat can only protect a child when it is properly used, so be sure to consider these guidelines before taking your toddler for a drive this winter.

At Celebree Learning Centers, we believe in providing parents and caretakers practical and critical child development and care information, ensuring our children grow up safe and happy. This also translates into the way we work with children at our learning centers, providing them a safe environment to learn, explore and develop. For more information about Celebree Learning Centers, and our mission to provide a safe environment for child development and education, contact us today!