Aspirus highlights hidden dangers of puffy coats, car seats

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – Aspirus Health is offering parents and caregivers information on bundling and buckling their kids up securely during the winter months.

“As the winter chill sets in, parents seek the perfect balance between warmth and safety for their little ones,” Aspirus said in a release. “Puffy coats, while a popular choice for insulation, come with an unexpected danger when combined with car seats.”

Aspirus said it is offering guidance on the subject with collaborative insights from Jaime Oswald, MD, Aspirus Family Medicine Physician, and Safe Kids Wisconsin (SKW).

While puffy coats look like they are going to be really warm and keep a child safe in that regard, they put a lot of space in between the child and the car seat straps, according to Aspirus.

“If you think that you’re cinching down those car seat straps, there’s actually this big gap where the puffy coat is sitting,” Oswald explained.

Oswald. Photo courtesy of Aspirus.

According to SKW, a puffy coat adds four inches of slack to car seat harness straps, which causes the potential for a child to slide around in their car seat in the event of a car accident, which would defeat the purpose of the car seat.

To ensure both warmth and safety during cold weather, Dr. Oswald recommends alternatives to puffy coats in car seats.

“Parents can opt for lighter, thinner layers, such as sweaters, that don’t compromise the snug fit of the car seat straps,” Aspirus said. “Additionally, hats, gloves, boots and blankets provide warmth once the child is securely strapped in and can be an effective substitute for bulky outerwear.”

Oswald said a practical rule of thumb to use when trying to figure out if you’re dressing your kid warm enough for the cold weather is that they should be wearing what you’re wearing, plus a layer.

For instance, Aspirus explained, if a parent is wearing a jacket, the child can wear a jacket and a hat. This ensures that the child stays warm without compromising their safety in the car seat.

“Aspirus said it recommends SKW’s simple coat check to ensure the security of the car seat.

“After strapping the child into the car seat with the coat on, parents can remove the child without adjusting the straps, take off the coat, and place the child back in the seat,” Aspirus stated.

“If the straps still fit snugly, the layer is safe,” Oswald said. “But if the straps become significantly looser, the layer is too thick and poses a risk.”

Aspirus noted that by adopting alternative clothing options and following safety measures, parents can ensure their little ones are snugly secured and protected from both the cold weather and the unexpected dangers of puffy coats in car seats.

For more information on passenger safety, visit

Scroll to Top