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Winter car seat guidelines for your baby

Baby in a car seat in winter.

We know having your baby was love at frost sight. But now that winter is here, it’s important to make sure your little one is safe at all times – especially in the car.

Winter typically means bundling up your baby and children to keep them warm in the cold. However, when it comes to putting them in their car seat, bundling can be dangerous.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is a general rule that bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of the car seat. Layering your baby in thick or puffy coats before getting in the vehicle can actually prevent the car seat from working properly.

There are different guidelines for putting your baby in a car seat in the winter. The Mother Baby Center is here to share the safest way to bring your little ones wherever you go.

Tips for keeping your baby warm and safe in a car seat

Healthy Children, from AAP, updated their car seat safety tips in 2019. See their guidelines below:

Use thin layers.

Dress your baby in thin layers instead of bulky ones. For example, start with thin, close-fitting clothes like, leggings or tights. Then add a second layer of pants and a warmer top. Layering helps your baby have options if they get too hot or cold.

AAP recommends: “As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and a coat on, your infant will probably need a hat, coat, and blanket.”

You can still keep them warm.

Even without a bulky winter jacket, you can keep your baby warm in their car seat. After their buckled, you can put their jacket on backward (over the buckled harness straps) but don’t zip it up in the back. Also, bring blankets in the car and lay it over their lap or on top of them once they’re buckled.

Warm up the car first.

It’s helpful to start your car before getting into it. This will warm up the car and lessen the need to dress your child in their winter coat during the drive.

Fit the car seat snug.

It’s important to make sure the car seat fits snuggly. It could be dangerous to have a gap or lose fit.

“Even if your child looks snuggly bundled up in the car seat, multiple layers may make it difficult to tighten the harness enough,” according to AAP. “If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child’s chest.”

Car seat cover rules.

You should only ever use a car seat cover if it does not have a layer underneath your little one, or between their body and the harness straps. AAP urges you to remember: “Many retailers carry car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in a car seat. Just because it’s on the shelf at the store does not mean it is safe!”


Here is a full list of AAP’s recommendations for car seat safety for your little one. There’s snow place like home, so make sure you get there safely!