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Why winter coats and car seats don't mix

As we bundle up our little ones this winter, what may not be top of mind is the effect that bulky clothing can have on a child’s safety when travelling by vehicle. The risk applies specifically to younger children who still require car seats.

When your child is buckled in with a thick coat on, the extra bulk of the material under the harness straps compresses during a sudden stop or collision. This extra slack in the harness straps can make the car seat ineffective in keeping your child safely secured. Worse still, this could potentially cause your child to be partially or even fully ejected from the car seat.

There are simple steps you can take to keep your most important passengers safe and warm. Keep reading to learn more.

toddler putting on his coat

How to safely secure children during the colder months

Step 1

Prior to putting your little one in their car seat, remove their bulky winter coat. Tip: keep them warm with layers or a cozy sweater.

Step 2

To secure your child safely, follow these simple steps:

  1. Put the harness straps over your child’s shoulders
  2. Do the buckle up
  3. Tighten the harness straps so that they are snug against your child’s body. If you can pinch a fold in the harness strap at your child’s collar bone, it’s too loose.
  4. Secure the chest clip level with your child’s armpit

Step 3

Once they are secured, put the winter coat back on backwards, with their arms through the armholes, or cover your child’s body with a blanket and wait for the car interior to warm up.

Padded Car Seat Bags: exercise caution

Also known as bunting bags, padded car seat bags are lined or insulated and are intended to keep kids warm by fitting inside the car seat with slots in the back for the harness straps to pull through. Transport Canada has issued a consumer safety notice stating such products may incorrectly re-route the harness system and/or add unwanted slack. They recommend checking with the car seat manufacturer before using any aftermarket products that do not come with the seat.

Need help?

Visit for information and how-to videos or connect with our BCAA Child Passenger Safety Educators by phone: 1.877.247.5551 or email: