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Are You Making this Car Seat Mistake?

The calendar might say that it’s still fall for a few more weeks, but in many parts of the country, winter has already arrived. It’s been unseasonably temperate here in Upstate New York, and although my three-year-old is so excited to get outside to build her first snowman, I’m grateful for a few extra days without having to bundle up in our warmest gear just to walk out the door.

Although I’m a lifelong New Yorker and I’ve already made it through three winters with little ones in tow, I think it’s always a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of winter car seat safety before the season is upon us. We caught up with Allana Pinkerton, Global Safety Advocate for Diono, whose car seats are top of the line when it comes to safety. She was kind enough to share her comprehensive list of dos and don’ts for preparing your baby for a ride in the car when the temperature drops and the snowflakes are falling.

Winter Safety Tips for Tots

The BIG DON’T: Never place a child in a car seat with a thick, bulky winter coat because the harness might not be snug enough to perform as it should during a crash.

If your child is wearing a thick coat, the padding in the coat will not allow you to snug up the harness correctly and the harness will actually be loose on the child. The padding in the coat will compress during a crash until it gets to the body which doesn’t allow the child to ride the crash down appropriately.

Car seat manufacturers cannot determine if it is safe to use a thick winter coat because they do not crash test with coats on the test dummies. They do test for misuse, and they can determine if a loose harness causes injury.

DO: Follow the car seat manual for proper harness fit, installation and use. The manuals are written based on crash test data.

DO: Use an appropriate car seat no matter what the weather conditions are outside.

Diono Rainier Convertible+Booster Car SeatDiono Rainier Convertible+Booster Car Seat

DO: If there are no safety issues in doing so, heat up the car ahead of time.

DO: Put a thin fleece jacket on your baby, toddler or older child.

DO: Put a toboggan hat and gloves on your child. This definitely helps retain some internal warmth.

Fleece Jacket and Hat & Mitten Set from GapFaux Fur-Lined Fleece Jacket and Hat & Mitten Set from Gap

DO: For a newborn baby, many infant carrier car seats come with a “warming boot” to put over the baby. If not, one may be purchased from the manufacturer of the car seat or they may have approved the use of one manufactured by another company.

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car SeatChicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat

DO: Throw a blanket around your child when carrying him out to the car to keep him warm. (If you are super nice, you might have even warmed it up in the dryer first.)

Place your child in the harness, and snug it up. Then you can place the blanket over him so it doesn’t interfere with the harness and tuck it in around the child’s sides. To avoid the possibility of suffocation, do not put the blanket near his head.

Thanks so much to Allana for taking the time to share her expertise with us. Make sure to check out Diono’s line of convertible and booster car seats.


Sunday 30th of July 2017

Have to admitt that I do sometimes get a bit lazy and pop my son in his seat with his thick jacket on. Will have to get out of this habit. Thx for posting this.


Thursday 8th of September 2016

I am curious on your thoughts regarding moving from a car seat with a 5 point harness to a booster. My daughter is 4 years and 8 months. She is 102 cm (40″) tall. So far so good, she is too tall for her car seat and the right age and height for the boosters we see in the stores. The problem is that she only weighs 34 pounds and all the boosters we see start at 40 pounds. Do we really need to buy an expensive car seat online that will accommodate her height until she reaches 40 pounds, or can we switch to a booster now?