A: The short answer is: yes! Why is it necessary to take baby’s coat off? If you don’t, the harness might not perform as it should during a crash. A harness should fit snug and comfortably, as close as possible to the child’s body.
If she’s wearing a thick coat, the padding in the coat will not allow you to tighten the harness adequately, so it will actually be too loose on the child. This could cause serious or fatal injuries to a baby, toddler or even an older child.
Let’s face it: Your child will not freeze as you walk from the pediatrician’s office to your vehicle. Unless you will be keeping her out in the elements for more than 15 minutes, she’ll be OK. (Besides, imagine how uncomfortable she would be strapped in while wearing a heavy coat for the duration of the ride. Her body temperature may actually heat up too much with all the thick material and lack of airflow.)
That said, there are a few things you can do to keep your baby warm:
- Heat up the car ahead of time if it is safe to do so, so it’s already warm when you get in.
- Wrap baby up in a blanket as you transport her to the car. Once you’ve secured the harness correctly, place the blanket over baby, and tuck it in on either side of her body.
- Heat easily escapes from the head and feet. Keeping these areas of the body warm will help regulate body temperature as you transport baby out of the house and into the car. A cozy hat and thick socks or booties will provide the extra warmth your little one needs.
- Many infant carrier carseats come with a “warming boot” to put over the baby. If not, one may be purchased from the car seat manufacturer or from another approved manufacturer. Additional covers may be available for wind protection.
—Allana Pinkerton, certified child passenger safety technician and global safety advocate for Diono