I feel that now’s a good time to write up this post as a reminder of correct etiquette for jackets and swaddling kids in car seats as we come into the colder weather.
When placing an infant into their car seat it’s important that you harness them in their seat unwrapped. They must be able to sit correctly with the harness over their body, arms and legs through the correct section of it, then a blanket can be tucked in over them.
Solutions to this include:
1. You can place a thin blanket under them, buckle, then wrap the blanket over the child, (see image/s below).
2. You can place the child into the seat as per normal, and then tuck a blanket over your child.
3. Purchase a “shower cap” style cover that sits over the top of the car seat, with a wee peep hole for your child to see out of.
Where a child is wrapped first, then placed into the car seat, chances are they won’t remain in the harness, they become a possible projectile and due to their naturally fragile state, are unlikely to come out unscathed, more often than not the outcome is fatal.
An outcome Elizabeth Cardwell’s family would now change in a heartbeat, if only they’d known how to keep their child warm, safely. Her daughter, Isabella, was fatally injured as a result of being placed into her car seat, wrapped, with an ill-fitting harness. You can view their story here.
For a car seat harness to function correctly, keeping the child restrained and impact forces dispersed evenly over the child’s body, it needs to be used as per the manufacturers specifications, thus, being over the shoulders, over the hips, between the legs. A child wrapped in a blanket, is unable to sit with their arms and legs through the harness correctly. It’s much like strapping a sack of potatoes into a car seat. It just does not work correctly.
Neither of these solutions affects the fit of the harness when done correctly.
It’s cold, we want your children to be warm, but we also want them to be safe.
When a child is placed into their car seat, while wearing a thickly padded/puffy winter jacket, the harness fit can be compromised due to the bulk of the jacket. It can cause the harness to sit incorrectly over the child, especially over the shoulders, and just as bad, the jacket can be compressed considerably under force, welcoming unwanted room into the harness, room that can be detrimental to your child’s safety when in an impact.
Solutions to this issue include:
1. Thinner/warmer jackets, or layering. Micro fleece is great. It’s thinner than Polar fleece, and just as warm.
2. Place child into car seat as per normal, then place jacket over child, so that the back is on their front, and the zipper side towards the child’s back.
3. Place child into car seat with jacket on, but unzipped, place harness over child as per normal, do up jacket, over the front of the harness. As per this video.
4. Use the cars heating.
5. Purchase a car seat poncho for older children.
6. Keep a throw rug in the car for older kids to over themselves with as the need be.
Neither of these solutions affect the fit of the harness when done correctly.
“Jackets over the harness, what about in an emergency, wont this slow them down?”
Thank you for your question. In all reality in an emergency most crew will not remove a child from their car seat, rather they will remove the seat with the child remaining harnessed, travelling to hospital while still in the seat. This keeps the child’s head secure in case of suspected head or neck injury.
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