Open Accessibility Menu

Car Seat Safety Guide for Minnesota Winter Months

Published in Birthing Services, Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Amy Finck, MSN, RN, CPST, NPD-BC NICU Unit Educator, St. Cloud Hospital

Winter weather has arrived — it’s a good time to brush up on car seat safety if you have children using car seats.

While it may seem appropriate to dress your baby in puffy snow gear to keep them warm during your commute, it’s not recommended and puts your child at risk.

During a crash, the fluffy padding inside snow gear will immediately flatten due to force. That creates extra space under the seatbelt harness, putting your child at greater risk of slipping through the straps and being thrown from the seat.

Even if your child looks tight and secure, it may be difficult to get a safe fit. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened. The straps should fit snuggly against your child’s chest.

Instead, parents should avoid the winter coat and dress their child in tight fitting layers to keep them warm and comfortable. Stack a thin fleece jacket on top of a sweater or thermal-knit shirt.

Keep in mind, it might seem counterintuitive to some people who have not been properly trained in car seat safety. Try not to worry about other people’s opinions. Your child’s safety is more important.

Once your child is buckled in properly, you may add a blanket over the top of the harness straps or put your child’s winter coat on backwards. The top layer should be removable, so your baby doesn’t get too hot as the vehicle warms up.

When possible, you should store your child’s car seat indoors at room temperature to prevent any loss of body heat when it’s time to hit the road.

There are several car seat covers and products on the market that aren’t necessarily safe to use while driving. If the items didn’t come with the car seat, then they have not been crash-tested. If you’re not sure about a product refer to the car seat manual or call the customer support number for the car seat you own.

Several resources are available to people who are concerned about proper car seat installation. The St. Cloud Area Child Passenger Safety Collaborative holds monthly car seat clinics by appointment. You can get one-on-one help from a certified child passenger safety technician. View the 2024 schedule.

Additionally, several local law enforcement agencies will also check car seats for residents in their area. You can look up car seat checks near you on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website.