Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dressing for Winter and Car Seat Safety

I was reflecting today how autumn seemed to slip away from me.  I can't avoid it any longer, after all Christmas is next week and we've already has a few dumps of snow in our neighbourhood.  Winter (or at least winter weather) is officially here.  It's cold.  We're into our mittens and warm hats.
Being Canadian, I take knowledge of how to dress for the weather for granted.  It gets cold, you add a layer, no big deal.  I have a friend who has recently moved here from Pakistan and the weather is quite a shock for her.  She finds the 10 degree (celcius) days of autumn cold.  She finds the -3 (plus a windchill to make it feel like -10) unbearable.  She was over the other morning for tea after we had dropped our sons off at school.  We both have daughters about the same age (1 year).  I undressed my little girl from her hat, mittens, lined fleece suit and boots and let her play.  My friend took a lot longer.  She removed a snowsuit, not one but two fleece suits, a scarf, mittens, and boots before her daughter was free to play.  "Is that too much?"  she asked.  "A little."  I said.  Her daughter may be warm, but also may be too warm and overheat.  So what's appropriate dress for cold weather like this.
Here's what my little one usually wears: a onesie with a sweater or a long sleeved shirt over top, a pair of babylegs (baby leg warmers), a pair of pants, and then either her snowsuit or a fleece bunting suit overtop.  A warm hat (that she can't get off herself) and mittens, socks and boots complete the outfit.  That's really all that is needed.   I'm a little wary of the safety of scarves (they can be tied too tight too easily, or, the end can get caught in a stroller wheel and pull to choke).  If you are out and about with a stroller you can always add a layer by adding a blanket too.
A lot of moms don't realize how big and bulky their little one becomes when dressing them for winter.  This affects the safety of strollers and car seats.  Fortunately, there is a lot more awareness around this issue.  Here's some ideas and tips to help you out.
First believe me when I say that adding snowsuits and layers affects the safety of the car seat.  You can check it out yourself.  Bring your car seat inside your home.  Dress your little one in full snow gear.  Now put them in their car seat.  Buckle them up.  Now take them out of the car seat.  Remove the snow gear.  Put your little one back in the car seat and buckle them up.  Take a look at how much excess seat belt has been pulled out to allow for the snow suit.  Quite a lot!  You may wonder what the big deal is.  Unfortunately there are instances of families being a car crash.  Due to the force of the crash the baby was fully ejected from the car seat because of the amount of room let out to allow for the snowsuit.  So what can you do?  You want your little one to be both warm and safe.
1.  Dress your baby in a lined fleece suit.  It's thin enough to be safe, but warm enough to be warm.  You can always add a blanket on top.  (I've found this to be the best with littler ones)
2.  Have your little one in their snowsuit until you get to the car.  Take the snow suit off and belt them in the car seat.  Then, put their jacket on backwards over their arms. (I do this with my older boy who is three.  He doesn't wear snow pants in the car.  He brings them if we are going somewhere that he needs them, but most of the time he leaves them at home.
3. Little babies in infant seats can use a car seat cover.  You want to get the kind that fits over top of the whole car seat as opposed to the kind that you belt in.  Nothing should be behind your little one in the car seat.  I don't know why they continue to make these things, but they aren't safe!
Winter can be a pain for lots of reasons.  The multi-layer dressing is just one of them.  Give yourself time to do it right.  Lets keep our kids warm and safe this winter!

1 comment:

  1. My #1 tip for car seats and cold weather (and we get *cold* here) is this: unzip the jacket and slide the arms through the straps, and push the jacket sleeves off the shoulders just a bit. With a bit of practice, you can get a completely snug fit with the harness straps across the child while still keeping their jackets over their arms. When straps are done up, pull the jacket closed over their bodies.




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