The winter car seat safety tips all parents need to know

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Baby in car seat

Car seat safety is always important, but it becomes more important than ever when we have little ones travelling in the back.

With winter looming, there's one terrifying winter car seat safety hazard that not all parents may be aware of, but is a tip so important it could save your child's life in the event of an accident. And it's all to do with the coat your little one is wearing.

According to safety experts, many parents out there are making the common mistake of strapping their children into their car seat with their winter coat still on - an act which could, if you were to have a car accident, endanger the life of your child.

Here, we explain everything you need to know about winter car seat safety and how you can protect your child from this common car seat blunder...

Avoid bulky, thick coats when your child's in their car seat

The straps of the car seat must fit snugly against your child's chest to keep them secure in the event of a crash, or if you have to brake harshly. But wrapping your kids up in thick layers means that you are creating a much bigger gap between the straps and your child's chest.

If you were to strap your child in while wearing a winter coat, and then remove their coat from under the straps, you'd find that the straps are shockingly loose, leaving enough space that could potentially mean the baby could come free from their car seat during an accident.

These alarming clips, from Good Egg Child Safety's YouTube video, demonstrates the horrifying gap your child's coat could be creating between them and their all-important car seat straps

At first glance, this image of a child strapped into her car seat whilst wearing her coat doesn't appear out of the ordinary

But after removing the coat, you can see the gap the padding had cerated between her and her car seat, rendering it far less effective in the event of a crash

Watch the video in full:

To prove this point further, another viral post has surfaced on Facebook being liked and shared by thousands of parents showing how dangerous wearing a winter coat in a car seat can be.

This post was shared by a mum and similarly to Good Egg Child Safety shows the large gap created by a winter coat to the important safety straps of a car seat.

How to keep them warm and safe

Well, whilst you might worry that they'll be too chilly without their coat on, don't forget that apart from newborns, your kids don't need to be kept any warmer than you do. Warming the car up for five minutes before you leave the house and keeping the heating on throughout the journey should keep them plenty warm enough.

Fleece jackets, under-clothing thermals and gloves are all warm, but thin enough to still enable you to settle little ones into their car seat securely.

If you're still worried,  put the coat on backwards on the dash to the car, get them in their seat and remove the coat before you strap them in. For really little ones, wearing a hat and a snuggly blanket on top of the straps (not tucked under) should keep them warm, toasty and most importantly, safe.

What the experts say...

Estelle Salter, Customer Care Manager for child car seats manufacturer Maxi-Cosi, says, 'When fastening your little one into their car seat you need to ensure the harness is suitably secure to your baby's body, so no thick coats or snowsuits as they will restrict how tight you can actually adjust the straps.

'Remember, if you can fit more than two fingers under the harness at the child's shoulder bone, the coat is too thick and is not safe for use with the car seat.

Continued below...

'If you're worried about your little one getting cold, why not cover them with a snuggly blanket and tuck them in?'

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Margaret Melkonian

So rear facing is a goof thing OK . I was a bus driver and in the summer I stopped at a light n yes the baby was rear facing and the sun was beating on baby's face now what I could see baby was hot now what


All children under four years should be in a rear facing car seat, I hear people going on about no leg room,and how they would break legs in an impact. The harsh reality is broken legs can be fixed broken necks can't.

Frances Silver

We have a car seat that will rear face until 25kg, which is approximately six years old. Our son is currently just over 2.5 years and fits in it just fine, he has plenty of room for his legs to grow still. Even when there is less room (different seats in different cars will produce different amounts of leg room), children are much more flexible than adults and will just bend or fold their legs (which is perfectly safe when rear facing in a harnessed seat). If you want to see examples just do a google image search for 'rear facing children' and you will find many photos of how they can sit comfortably in their seats :)

Frances Silver

Still not right! You can buy car seats which only rear face that go up to 25kg - such as the Axkid Minikid. You can also buy car seats which can face either way that go up to 25kg - such as the Britax Two Way Elite. You've also mentioned 'retainer clips' which UK car seats don't have, and your main photo is of an American car seat. With something SO important I really think you ought to have spent a bit more time getting it right...

what what

Yes I agree with you they are illegal in the uk. Shame an article which claims to correct car seat mistakes is so inaccurate. All the photos are us car seats


Retainer clips - presumably the chest strap you can see in the photo? Are they not illegal in the UK?

Gemma Chandler

Hi Lynds, We had just included UK government guidelines on rear-facing only seats, but you're absolutely right, forward/rear-facing seats - that can be fitted either way - now go up to 18kgs. Thanks for pointing out, we've updated accordingly! The goodtoknow Family team x


This isnt factually correct. The maximum weight for rear facing in the UK is not 13kg. Isofix is 18kg. And a lot of seats can now be used up to 25kg rear facing when secured with a seatbelt


You can now buy rear facing seats suitable for up to age 4 ( the stage 2 seats) they usually have the facility to rear or forward face. The law in the UK is soon changing to insist on rear facing for all children up to 15 mths. At the moment they are only available at a few retailers and are quite expensive but should become more available next year when the new law comes into play.


My heart goes out to Holly Wagner, every mums worst nightmare. But how can you put a 2 year old in a rear facing carseat, my grandson would be bent double if he were sat that way, & they say a child should only be in a rear facing seat up to a certain weight.

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