UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – The winter weather is here but bundling up isn’t always the best option for your little one. When it comes to car seats, less is more. 

“In a car crash, the fluffy and puffy padding in a winter coat immediately flattens out from the crash forces and that leaves extra space under the car seat harness,” Amanda Tiban, Safe Kids and Injury Prevention Coordinator with Aspirus Wausau Hospital. “That is problematic because then a child can slip through the harness straps and be thrown which puts them at higher risk of injury.”

Instead of a puffy coat to stay warm in the colder months, Tiban suggests other options. 

“Thin warm, layers, and once they are in their car seat, you can place thin blankets when it’s cold over them and over the harness,” Tiban said. “When it is an even colder day like today you might use a thicker blanket or even multiple blankets and then, of course, you can always use things like booties, really warm socks, boots, hats, gloves, to keep those extremities warm and those things don’t interfere with the car seat harness.”

Tiban says it is important to remember proper car seat safety year-round and not just in the colder months. Two ways parents can ensure that their children are properly fascinated in their car seat are the ‘pinch’ and ‘inch’ tests. 

“The ‘inch’ test is what a parent would do to make sure that the car seat is attached snuggly enough to the vehicle seat,” Tiban said. “To do that, parents would grab the car seat at the belt path, whether that be at the seat belt or the lower anchor belt path, and move the seat back and forth, side to side, and front to back. If the seat moves less than one inch, the car seat is installed tightly enough to the vehicle seat.”

The ‘pinch’ test is a test that parents can use to ensure that a child is fit snuggly enough in the harness.

“After you get baby strapped in, you pinch the harness at the shoulder straps,” Tiban said. “If you can pinch any webbing, that means it is too loose and you need to tighten those straps more. If you can run your fingers over the strap without pinching any webbing, that means it is tight enough.” 

Tiban also wants to remind people to drive carefully and cautiously.