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My son was born in December and is now about a year old and was born during a pretty heavy snow/cold spell. We bought a huge snow suit for him to take him home from the hospital but we couldn't get my snow suit wearing newborn son to fit in the car seat and we ended up putting extra clothes on him and covering him with a couple blankets.

My question is, on a normal day to day basis, how do you transport a child in and out of a car into a building in freezing conditions whether using a car seat or not to traverse from the car to build. Are there snow suit/car seat combo's that work or am I trying to keep my son too warm?

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    For infant car seats (bucket seats where you take the seat out of the car, typically), there is a number of covers/bunting you can buy, such this (I have not used any myself): smile.amazon.com/JJ-Cole-Seat-Cover-Graphite/dp/B00511J6BM/… – Ida Oct 9 '14 at 17:46
  • Important detail: is your car typically parked outdoors or otherwise in an unheated environment, or is it indoors in a heated (or at least somewhat insulated) garage? – Joe Oct 9 '14 at 21:03
  • Typically the car is in a garage that is not very well insulated. But we can heat it up before leaving (with the door open of course). The only time really that the car would end up cold is while we are inside church. – DemiSheep Oct 9 '14 at 21:28
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A one year old is too old for a carrying car seat, or will soon be. Most of those max out at 30 inches or less; in the US, a boy will reach 30 inches on average on his first birthday, with a 95% range of 8 months to 16 months, and a girl not too different from that, according to the CDC Growth Charts. We're talking about a sitting-up carseat here.

The biggest problem is coats/snowsuits, as those are too bulky (and when worn under the buckles may be somewhat unsafe - carseats are intended to be securely strapped to the child, and strapping it as tight as it ought to be will be very uncomfortable.

One solution is to not wear the coat on the way to the car. Obviously, the child will be cold, so to solve that problem we dress them somewhat more warmly minus the coat.

In our case, the easiest solution is to take the cotton clingy pajamas and use them as long underwear. From sometime in October (a week ago here where I live) to sometime in April, most days our children wear two complete layers both top and bottom. They have fun Elmo or whatever pajamas on the bottom, on top of those their regular shirt and pants, and then on top of that a sweater. This keeps them quite warm - these are very tight pajamas, as they're cotton and not fire retardant, so they do a good job trapping warm air underneath. With this setup they often don't need a coat at all, unless they're playing in the snow, or the temperatures are very low; certainly the trip from the house to the car isn't long enough for them to get much of a chill.

There may still be a few days where you need to add a bit of warmth (if it's blizzarding outside!); for those days, either take the extra few minutes to don and doff the coat, or more easily, carry the child in a blanket to the car. That has the added bonus of a blanket that can be draped over them while the car warms up, particularly if it's not in a heated garage. Much faster than a coat to remove.

  • A cursor check turned up this website where various laws in the United States require more than 1 year old and more than 30lbs (I think you meant lbs, not inches). Some of the laws are ridiculous and cover kids up to 8yo! I am not asserting the accuracy of the report, only that laws may vary in one's locality. – Sylas Seabrook Oct 10 '14 at 2:18
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    @JeremyMiller Actually, he probably did mean inches, not pounds. Car seats fit children based upon weight and height, as both factor into whether a child fits properly, and infant carriers typically safely accommodate infants between 5 and 22 pounds, or up to 30 inches. Once they exceed one of those two constraints, they transition to a forward-facing upright car seat. When they graduate to a booster seat is again determined by height and/or weight. Ensuring that the seat belt fits properly across the chest, without going across the neck, is more a function of height than weight. – user420 Oct 10 '14 at 12:16
  • @Beofett Fair enough. I was going only by the list of laws I saw and laws, ofc, are not necessarily logical or based on reality. – Sylas Seabrook Oct 12 '14 at 3:23
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    The most important part of this answer is regarding how unsafe it is to put little ones in card seats with bulky/puffy clothing. Doing so increases the risk of not having the belts actually tightened enough to securely keep a child in the seat in the unfortunate case of an accident. – Pete Oct 14 '14 at 5:04
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We wound up adjusting the straps at the beginning of winter to accommodate thicker clothes/jackets. Even then, it could be a challenge to get the straps around my son in his heaviest coat.

The workaround we came up with for the coldest weather was this: Bundle my son up in whatever we thought was appropriate for the weather. Bring him out to the car, sit him in the seat (on top of the straps, and not trying to buckle him in yet), then cover him with the blanket and remove the coat.

Once he was out of the coat, we would strap him in, keeping him covered with the blanket as much as possible. Once the car was warm enough (assuming we were in it long enough), he could push the blanket off himself if he got too warm (or we could reach back and pull it off).

We would reverse the process coming out of the car, recovering him with the blanket, unbuckling him, then transferring him to the coat (and possibly then further bundling him in the blanket as well, if necessary).

Going out ahead of time to warm up the car before loading him helps, too.

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    If the car ride is a long one and you car heating works well, it is important to uncover the baby. Babies will soak themselve in sweat, and then be very cold when coming out of the car. – Vincent Hubert Oct 9 '14 at 20:18
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IIRC, we had a car seat that was also one of those carry things. I think it also may have connected to a stroller?

Anyway I imagine they are expensive (Ours was gift), and while made things easier, not a need at all. I don't think we ever actually put him in a full on snow suit + carseat. That was more for in the stroller/walks/etc.

If he's not outside for a prolonged period, I think the layers of clothes + blankets should be more than sufficient. Maybe warm your car up first? Biggest concern would be the face. I'm not sure how cold it is there, but I bet a little Vaseline or something would prevent damage to nose/lips, but it doesn't sound like he's in any danger of that.

It's good to be concerned about this stuff! That's the important part. You may be perhaps more concerned that you need to be though :) Keep doing what works and just monitor him.

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One thing worth pointing out is that children that young have the brilliant feature where if they are cold they will tell someone about it; they don't get as deeply distracted as older children do. You clearly care about your son and keeping him warm, which means you will respond if he's not happy. If he's ok with being transported to a warm car in a coat then that's fine. If it's really cold and you can't warm up the car first (life happens, it's ok) then leave him warm in the car, but like one of the other answers suggested it is important to check his heat after a while in the car especially if he falls asleep. But you'll do all the checks anyway as it's crystal clear you care deeply for him.

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My wife and I worried about this with our son for his first winter at home. Mainly because only weighed 15lbs at 14 months (preemie), and the temperature was hanging out around 16 Fahrenheit. We tried bundling in winter clothes but he would overheat. If he was going in his car seat the most we could put on him was long sleeve onesie, some pants, and shoes. We just wrapped him in a blanket while outside then lightly draped the blanket over his car seat. After about five minutes he would kick the blanket off cause he was getting too warm. Babies can regulate their body heat pretty well, as long as you keep the wind off them you are probably more likely to overheat them than let them get too cold.
The best thing is just to check their face for being too cold and their armpits for being too hot then make adjustments.

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