When preparing for a new baby, we all do our best to know everything we can about car seat safety. We research car seats and their features, learn how to properly install the seats, or even take them to a certified technician who can correctly install the seat for us. But, one significant safety concern that’s often overlooked is how to keep a baby warm in a car seat.
Keeping your baby warm in a car seat can be a real struggle in winter, depending on where you live. Just this last winter, we had many days where the high temperature was -15, or even colder with wind chill. Talk about rough!
It is crucial to know how to keep your baby safely warm in their car seat, no matter where you live. Whether your winter months give you temperatures in the 40s or the negatives, you’ll want to keep your baby warm without risking their safety.
In this article, you’ll find all the best tips for keeping your baby warm (and safe) in a car seat. Plus, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions from other new parents.
Let’s get started!
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Dress Baby in Thin, Well-Fitting Layers
One of the easiest ways to keep your baby warm in a car seat is to dress them in layers. When dressing your baby in layers, you’ll want to ensure that the clothing you choose is thin and snug-fitting.
If the layers you dress your baby in for the car seat are thick or too loose, you will have the same problem you’d have if your baby were wearing a thick coat. The car seat straps wouldn’t be able to tighten sufficiently, and your baby would not be strapped into the seat correctly.
Now, while you’ll want to dress your baby in layers, you don’t want to go overboard. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers you wear plus one extra layer.
One of the best fabrics to dress your baby in to stay warm is fleece. Fleece is a warm fabric that can hold onto heat while not being too thick and bulky. Having a fleece bunting like this one for your baby is a great option to keep them warm in the car seat. Just ensure it fits them well and isn’t oversized.
Also, many parents wonder if wearing sweaters or thin jackets in the car seat is okay. The answer to this question can be yes, as long as they aren’t bulky like a winter coat.
Place a Blanket Over the Car Seats Straps
Many parents wonder, ‘can you put a blanket on a baby in the car seat’. The answer is yes, as long as you do so safely.
Blankets are great items to keep in the car for winter emergencies. But they’re also great for babies and kids to use while in their car seats. The biggest thing to remember when children use blankets in the car seat is that the blanket should never go under their seat straps.
Once you buckle your baby into their car seat, lay a small blanket over their lap, on top of the straps. When using a blanket to warm a younger baby, I always ensure that the baby’s arms are on top of the blanket so they can’t lift it toward their face.
My kids keep blankets like these ones in the car during the winter. They work well at keeping them both warm and comfortable!
Use a Car Seat Poncho
Another great way to keep a baby warm in a car seat is to use a poncho. When your baby wears a poncho in the car seat, they are essentially wearing a blanket and a jacket in one.
To use a poncho in the car seat, you’ll buckle your child into their seat and then put the poncho on them over their car seat straps. If the poncho has a hood, you can set the hood on your child and then drape the back of the poncho over the back of their car seat.
Then, you can lay the front of the poncho over your child’s lap, and you’re ready to go! If you’re interested in this option, this poncho is a great choice! It’s thick, warm, adorable, and machine washable, making it easy to keep clean.
Use a Warm Hat, Gloves, and Booties
It’s crucial for babies to wear a warm hat, gloves, and booties whenever they go out of the house in the winter. Babies lose a lot of heat through their heads, so wearing a good-quality hat will help keep them warm.
A simple beanie, mittens, and socks might do the trick if you live in a cooler climate where the temperature doesn’t get freezing. But if you get a lot of snow and freezing temperatures, you might need some accessories that are a little more heavy-duty.
I love this hat and mitten set because they are made of fleece with sherpa lining. And the hat has a closure to help it stay on your little one’s head. Also, if you need booties, these fleece ones are super warm and have velcro to help them stay on little feet.
Now, if you already know your baby will not keep a hat on their head, opt for dressing them in a hoodie! Not only can a hoodie be a great second layer, but the hood will be more challenging for a baby to take off in the car seat.
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Use a Winter Car Seat Cover (If It Doesn’t Go Under Your Child)
It’s beneficial to have a car seat cover when it’s time to take the carrier portion of the car seat out into cold weather. But not all car seat covers are created equal!
As I’ve said above, you never want your child’s car seat straps too loose. Some car seat covers go under your child in their seat, which can prevent the straps from being as tight as they need to be.
That’s why finding a cover that attaches to the top of the car seat is crucial. Typically, these covers have an elastic band to keep them in place, similar to a shower cap. These covers keep the elements off your baby while ensuring they are strapped into their seat tightly.
We have this car seat cover, which we have used with both of our children; it’s very high-quality! I love that it’s very thick to keep cold wind, rain, or snow out. And it has a flap that easily opens so you can quickly check on your baby.
Put Baby’s Coat on Backward (Over the Straps)
Our next way to keep a baby warm in a car seat is to put your baby’s coat on backward. Using your child’s coat backward is an excellent option if you don’t want to use a blanket or invest in a poncho, as it’s similar.
To use this option for keeping your baby warm, you’ll first strap your child into their car seat and secure it as you usually would. Then, you’ll put their coat on their arms backward, so the back of the coat lies over their chest and lap.
One thing to remember is that using a coat without a hood is better for babies, as you don’t have to worry about the hood covering their face. If your child’s coat has a hood, test this method beforehand to ensure the hood won’t be in the way.
Keep the Car Seat Carrier Indoors
One of the simplest ways to help keep a baby warm in a car seat is to store their car seat carrier indoors. Keeping the carrier inside will prevent the plastic and fabric cover from becoming cold.
Then, when it’s time to strap your baby into their seat, the seat will be room-temperature, and your baby’s body temperature will stay the same.
Warm Up the Car First
One thing that can be a great habit to start in the winter is to warm up the car before you leave for the day. It can take a little longer than expected to heat the car the first time you start it, so you’ll want to ensure you give yourself plenty of time.
Another good thing to check is that all air vents are open in the car, not just in the front seats. If you have a larger vehicle with vents in the back seats, you’ll want to ensure they’re open too.
Once the car is warmed up, getting in the backseat where your baby’s car seat is can also be beneficial to see how warm it feels. Then, you’ll know for sure if the car is warming enough for your child.
Remember: Don’t Overdo It
One thing to always keep in mind is that you don’t want to go overboard on keeping your baby warm in the car seat. Your baby can overheat in a car seat in the winter!
When looking through these ways to keep your baby warm in the car seat, you’ll only want to choose one or two options that make the most sense for your baby and the weather where you live.
If you’re unsure how to tell if your baby is too warm or overheating, check out this article from Happiest Baby.
Keep an Emergency Bin In Your Car
While keeping an emergency bin in your car won’t help you every day, it will be vital in the event of a travel emergency. And, in the cold winter months, you won’t regret having an emergency kit if you need one!
You don’t need a whole lot in your emergency bin. The essential items to keep in your car are blankets, extra sets of warm clothing, extra hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks/water bottles.
FAQs for How to Keep Baby Warm in a Car Seat
Why is wearing a coat in a car seat dangerous?
Wearing a winter coat in the car seat is dangerous because, in an accident, the coat compresses and creates space between your baby and the harness. This space could lead to your child being injured because of not being securely fastened into the seat.
What kind of coat can a baby wear in a car seat?
When it comes to children wearing coats in their car seats, you’ll want to avoid anything thick, oversized, or puffy. Winter coats are often filled with some kind of stuffing, making it so you can’t tightly buckle your child into their seat.
Coats that are thin, for example, windbreakers or light jackets, are typically safe to wear in a car seat. But, no matter the size of the jacket, you’ll always want to check and ensure that the car seat straps are still getting tightened sufficiently.
Can a baby wear a snowsuit in a car seat?
Like winter coats, you’ll want to avoid having your child wear a snowsuit in a car seat. The snowsuit will likely add too much room between your child and the seat straps, making it unsafe.
And there you have it; how to keep baby warm in a car seat! I hope these tips have helped relieve some of the stress of traveling in the car with a baby in winter. You can have peace of mind that your baby is snug and warm while staying safe.
Before you go, check out these related articles:
- The Ultimate Guide for Baby Proofing Your Home
- Signs It’s Time To Ditch the High Chair
- How To Calm a Newborn During Bathtime
- What To Do When Your Baby Hates the Swaddle
- How To Get Things Done With a Baby at Home
What was your favorite tip for keeping a baby warm in a car seat? I would love to know in the comments below!