The real risk of coats in car seats--could someone give me resources. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I live in Northern Canada, and have recently heard that people are not putting their children in carseats in coats. I have heard that they could compress and fit (shoulders and all) through the head hole and be ejected.

 

So I don't understand exactly how a child would fit through the head hole.

 

My other concern is....is it doable to not wear a coat in -40C weather? Is the risk of hypothermia more of a risk than risk of being ejected?

 

What are my options.

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#2 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 09:32 AM
 
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http://www.justmommies.com/blog/2010/11/im-guilty/

 

And, yes, it's dangerous for adults to wear coats in the car for the same reason... your seat belt will not be snug against your body, and will not hold you as well in a crash.  If you have the heater on in your car, your child will not get hypothermia.  If it is warm enough for you, it's warm enough for your little one.  After buckling, you can always layer on warm wool blankets if necessary.  

 

Even if the child isn't 100% ejected from the seat (though that is possible), they are still at risk of major injuries.  A FF child will be thrown violently forward, putting great strain on the neck and spinal cord.  Since the loose straps would allow for much more movement, his head could hit the seat in front of him, as would his arms and legs, at speeds that easily break bones.  A RF child will be thrown up and back.  If the straps are loose, she could easily ride up high enough in her car seat for her head to be thrown back over the top of the seat, resulting in major head and neck injuries.

 

Even if it was a choice between hypothermia and broken necks/spinal injuries, I'd choose the hypothermia hands-down.  Hypothermia is treatable.  Of course, hypothermia is easily prevented, even without coats in the car.


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#3 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 10:07 AM
 
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Here is one video I saw on FB a couple weeks ago that showed it:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNGT9eBL_gg


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#4 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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You can wear long underwear, then clothes with fleece over the top - as long as you dont have to loosen the straps to put the kid in, then its ok.  

 

Instead of a coat, use a double layer carseat poncho on-top, or a coat on backwards (over the harness after its buckled tight), or just pile on blankets and when you get where you are going (the car will be warmed up at that point), get out of the carseat and put the coat on and then open the doors.  

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#5 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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We buckle the child into the seat, and then put the heavy coat on backwards, over the buckles, tucked in around the child. The child is safe, and warm, and there's not any hypothermia risk-- the child is only out of the coat for a few seconds.

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#6 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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nak

 

i'm trying to figure out how to keep my baby warm too.  when it's -40 out my car doesn't warm up to freezing even, so i need to figure out how i can strap him in then bundle him so that he stays bundled (he's an escape artist).  I may need blankets...

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#7 of 68 Old 12-08-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Sonja View Post

Here is one video I saw on FB a couple weeks ago that showed it:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNGT9eBL_gg



Thanks for that video link... a fb friend recently posted a picture of her little boy harnessed in with a big leather coat on.  I'm going to post this video on my fb!


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#8 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 04:17 AM
 
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Also, note that belt webbing (like in the harness) stretches during a crash.  Not like elastic, but surely the head-hole will be larger that it started out with.  The force of the child's body will force the chest clip down and the "head hole" will become bigger.

 

Think of putting the coat in a space saver bag- it will greatly decrease the volume that it takes up.  Same goes with crash forces- they will compress the coat, the air will come out, and your harness won't be as "snug" as you once thought it was.

 

If you have to loosen the harness to accommodate a piece of clothing, the piece of clothing is interfering and is too thick/bulky.

 

And yes, I know it's a pain.  I'm  a Chicagoan and it gets cold here too !


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#9 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:08 PM
 
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I don't intend to be a jerk here, but are there documented cases of children being ejected because they were wearing winter coats? My two children in car seats have very flat dense (think wool) coats that wouldn't be able to compress that much and I tighten every time I put them in. I tighten a heck of a lot more than that lady in the video. I have to loosen it back up every time to be able to get it buckled and then re-tighten. My oldest has a puffy coat, but it is easier with a booster and a 7 year old to work around it. It takes me longer to buckle all three of my kids in (3 across so hard to reach) and warm and de-ice the car than it does to drive them to school. The entire time, we are outside in the freezing cold with the door open (no way I can assist them without standing outside). They'd be freezing their asses off if they were not wearing coats during that whole ordeal. As it is even with coats they are complaining about the cold. And we don't even live in an especially frigid area like Canada. For those with the luxury of a garage and a van I guess I can imagine this working, but the rest of us would like to see the proof that being cold and miserable every morning is going to actually pay off if there is a crash.

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#10 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:15 PM
 
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I mean, seriously, the OP is talking about negative 40 degrees and you all are telling her to wear thin microfleece or put a poncho on. Crazy. The risk of hypothermia is clearly higher than the theoretical (which nobody seems to be able to quantify) risk of ejection in the possibility of an accident.

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#11 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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What about buying a remote starter and warming your car up first? I don't see how hypothermia would be a risk then, b/c by the time you have to remove the child's coat for 5 seconds to buckle them in (and then put it on backwards, or use blankets), the heater will be going strong.

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#12 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post

 

And yes, I know it's a pain.  I'm  a Chicagoan and it gets cold here too !



The coldest temp. EVER recorded in Chicago is -33 celsius which is warmer than what the op is talking about.

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#13 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post

nak

 

i'm trying to figure out how to keep my baby warm too.  when it's -40 out my car doesn't warm up to freezing even, so i need to figure out how i can strap him in then bundle him so that he stays bundled (he's an escape artist).  I may need blankets...



I can't even imagine (I live in the desert).   so, the car never warms up past zero the whole time you are driving?  Brrrr. 


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#14 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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Indie (Hey! orngbiggrin.gif) I have been looking and looking for documented cases of excursion or ejection where the fault lay or where additional damage was probably done by a child wearing a winter coat. So far I haven't been able to find anything. Lots of theory and explanations (which I get!) but no actual cases. Anyone else have actual documented cases?

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#15 of 68 Old 12-09-2010, 08:47 PM
 
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I do know of a situation where some kids were buckled in and died of hypothermia (didn't have their coats on, high school kids driving desolate winter roads in Wyoming).  The parents were told that the kids would have lived if they'd had their coats on to keep them warm 'til their wreck was noticed.  They didn't die from their injuries, but from hypothermia (coupled with broken limbs or etc. preventing them from doing anything to GET warm).  They were friends of my cousins. 

 

.... I think layers with fleece and bringing the winter coats along is a good option - start the car to warm it up before you go and bring the winter coats with you if you're going to an outdoor activity (meeting friends at the sled hill or whatever).  Bringing a warm blanket to toss over kids once they're buckled but doors are still open/vehicle is cold, is also a good idea (I had a drafty old car that I used to drive with a blanket over my lap and legs, when I was in high school and college!). 

 

Thanks for asking the question, and for the blog link.  I was a little skeptical 'til I read the link - and showed my dh and thought he'd be skeptical but he's all for changing how we do things.  I'm not worried about hypothermia or exposure if we get in a wreck while we're running errands 'round town! 

 

ETA:  Where I grew up, high in the mountains in MT, I remember regularly (nothing anyone every commented about, it was just the normal winter thing) temperatures of 40 below (F and C are the same at that temp) - sometimes lasting for a couple weeks without ever cracking above 0 and they never calculated the wind temperature on the forecasts they'd just say "plus windchill.")  So, wanted to clarify that while OP is talking about cold weather and probably has longer periods of cold weather than those of us to the south, there are parts of the Lower 40 that still can become very cold.  That said, it never got that cold when I was by Lake Michigan - lake effect, I don't know?  ;)  I think my solution is one I'd use, even at those very cold temperatures - layers, fleece on top, warm blanket to bundle 'round them while whisking into vehicle as quickly as I can, and preheat the car before we go anywhere so it has a chance to warm up.  The blankets are also nice because when it is that cold, no matter how good the car's heater is, there is a cold, cold space near the windows. 

 

And, the cold is also a major reason we went with a bucket system for our infant seats.  We would use one of the fleece covers on the bucket seat, load her in the house, tuck 1-2 blankets around her, fleece cover over all - they never got cold - by the time the cold would have penetrated, the heater was warm enough that they were fine. 

 

Most of the time when I'm traveling, I'm in town so if there were a wreck, hypothermia wouldn't be a concern - there'd be people right there to help immediately, so the fleece and blankets would be fine.  When we do longer road trips on winter roads (which is frequently) we always have winter coats and blankets right by the kids so we can cover them quickly and we do so if the roads get dicey.  We travel a lot on isolated roads ....

 

I do think it's important to also remember, snow boots and hats are still going to be keeping a lot of heat retained on kiddos.  If they're wearing a good warm hat and their boots (and maybe mittens) that will help a lot with the cold temperatures as the car is warming up more while you're driving.  We lose a TON of heat through our heads, the hats help! 


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#16 of 68 Old 12-10-2010, 06:16 AM
 
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In such freezing temperatures, you could use the "coat trick" or put the coat on backwards after strapping the child in.  The "coat trick" is demonstrated in the first link I posted and at around 2:45 in this video.  


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#17 of 68 Old 12-10-2010, 08:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2soren View Post

In such freezing temperatures, you could use the "coat trick" or put the coat on backwards after strapping the child in.  The "coat trick" is demonstrated in the first link I posted and at around 2:45 in this video.  


In temperatures like the OP is describing, this is what I would do. It eliminates the issue entirely-- even if the risk of compression and ejection is theoretical, the "coat trick" solves both problems-- the child is wearing the coat, and the child is in the seat properly.

I don't know that this is the kind of thing that IS documented. All you'll find, I'm pretty sure, is anecdotal stories-- because there's no agency out there with the mandate to collect this kind of information. There's a good discussion of that here:
http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=150956
Just like you won't find many "documented cases" of three year olds being ejected from boosters they were too small for, either-- and yet you will find the anecdotal stories of that, too. Nobody's collecting the information, and sorting accidents based on these risk factors. So what we have is the theoretical risk, based on what we know about the way car seats perform in crashes and crash tests.

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#18 of 68 Old 12-10-2010, 09:01 AM
 
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Okay, so are there crash tests where dummies are wearing coats and then not wearing coats?

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#19 of 68 Old 12-10-2010, 09:21 AM
 
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I have not been able to find any. It seems, from what I'm finding out, that they haven't been done.

That doesn't negate the potential danger. Nobody's done crash tests to find out what happens if you get in a crash with a case of beer on your lap either (to my knowledge!) but I think my common sense can supply the answer.

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#20 of 68 Old 12-10-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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It's not something that the government tests, because it's in all the manuals anyway.  

 

I live in Alaska, and we get similar temperatures.  Of course we worry about cold temperatures, and want kids to be comfortable, but also want to reduce their risk of injury or death.  

 

You can test the coat--strap kid on with the coat, and tighten the straps.  Then take the coat off, without tightening the straps, and buckle the child again.  Push the chest clip down (as this happens in a crash) and see how much room there is between the coat and the child.  ANY amount of slack introduces risk of injury or death--more movement is more risk of spinal or neck injuries, head injuries from impacting the side of the car or other objects, etc.  

 

There was a case here last year where a baby was ejected from the car and lived (miraculously).  We also had a 6yo die last month from being ejected, but who knows what the circumstances were.


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#21 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 04:04 AM
 
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just wanted to add, with a younger child (older than bucket seat age though), you can get larger bunting bags. they fit on strollers and convertible carseats too. we have one, it is really warm (like a big sleeping bag) with a removable panel on the back for the straps. so i bundle my dd up in it, take her out to the car, lift off the back panel and then only have to unzip the sides a little bit to get my hands in there and do her straps up... her back is firmly against the car seat, but she stays nice and warm while getting buckled in. we live in montreal and have street parking, so heating the car up beforehand is impractical, and we occasionally have to walk far enough to our car that just a couple of blankets aren't going to protect her from the elements.

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#22 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 06:11 AM
 
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I'm only in New England, where it gets cold, but no insanely cold. My son wears a hat, a little fleece vest or pull over and nothing else. I wrap him in a warm blanket while we're outside, put him in the seat and then tuck the blanket in over him, not near the straps. He seems comfy. 

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#23 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 06:16 AM
 
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I thought it was ok to wear a coat that is fleece because it doesn't compress (I think I read it here?) and in another video that she does, she uses a wool coat and does the test and says that because of the space left after taking him out that it isn't safe either.  The wool coat is very dense like the fleece.

Any opinions?


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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverFish View Post

just wanted to add, with a younger child (older than bucket seat age though), you can get larger bunting bags. they fit on strollers and convertible carseats too. we have one, it is really warm (like a big sleeping bag) with a removable panel on the back for the straps. so i bundle my dd up in it, take her out to the car, lift off the back panel and then only have to unzip the sides a little bit to get my hands in there and do her straps up... her back is firmly against the car seat, but she stays nice and warm while getting buckled in. we live in montreal and have street parking, so heating the car up beforehand is impractical, and we occasionally have to walk far enough to our car that just a couple of blankets aren't going to protect her from the elements.


thank you, silverfish!  a montrealer understands the cold :)  would you mind posting a link for the type of bag you are talking about?

 

and to the pp who asked about the car not warming up to zero... yup!    i have an older car, outside parking just like silverfish, and it gets cold .  i have to wear gloves to drive or my hands get so cold they hurt.  the heater blows cold air for a good 30 minutes.  Even the antifreeze freezes at times!  you know it's cold when you have to plug your car in.cold.gif

 

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#25 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 12:16 PM
 
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Bunting bags are no-nos but the type that go over the seat (the shower cap style ones) are safe.


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#26 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indie View Post

I mean, seriously, the OP is talking about negative 40 degrees and you all are telling her to wear thin microfleece or put a poncho on. Crazy. The risk of hypothermia is clearly higher than the theoretical (which nobody seems to be able to quantify) risk of ejection in the possibility of an accident.


Yeah, we deal with -40 and WIND. It'd blow straight up underneath a poncho. 

 

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What about buying a remote starter and warming your car up first? I don't see how hypothermia would be a risk then, b/c by the time you have to remove the child's coat for 5 seconds to buckle them in (and then put it on backwards, or use blankets), the heater will be going strong.


We have a remote starter AND plug in our car at night (engine block heater) and still can barely get our heat on by the time we get to our destination (granted, the longest drive in our town is 15 minutes away). Gas is well over $5 a gallon and we'd have to run it for a LONG time at idle for it to get that warm.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2soren View Post

In such freezing temperatures, you could use the "coat trick" or put the coat on backwards after strapping the child in.  The "coat trick" is demonstrated in the first link I posted and at around 2:45 in this video.  



A few of my FB friends have posted this, and I've wondered... what the heck is the kid wearing while the parent puts the coat into the carseat? We don't have a garage. DS would have to wear his coat out to the car, take the coat off, climb into the car (remember it's not warm at this point, and windy, so he's in a still-mostly-cold car with the wind blowing in the door), and sit there shivering while I fiddled with his coat?


I WANT to go coatless in the carseat. I DO, in Wisconsin, and even in Anchorage. That kind of cold is totally do-able. -40 with wind blowing off the treeless tundra (we live on the edge of town; not even any houses to block the wind), when you don't have a garage, is a different challenge and I can't formulate a plan that would actually work. Heck, I feel bad taking him outside without snowpants, which are even more a no-no. Maybe buy another coat (a size up so he can use it next year as his main coat?) and keep it in the carseat, so the switch-out is faster? He'd still be coatless outside, though, which seems cruel. *I* can't imagine taking *my* coat off outside. I wear my puffy down parka whenever I drive when it's really cold.

 

So if anyone has any experience in keeping a kid warm doing this in REALLY cold conditions with no garage and a fairly crappy car, I'd appreciate the guidance.


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#27 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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I live in cold, and I have no garage :)  and I have three little kids to get in the car. 

 

This is my routine:

 

Big girls (3 and 5) are dressed in tights under their pants, long sleeved shirts, fleece, hats, mittens, and their big puffy coat over it.  I take them both to the car, load them in, and have them get in their seats and take their coats off.  I usually just open the door long enough to get them in, and shut it so they are not in the wind.

 

DS (18m) usually wears a fleece jammie and a fleece one-piece suit over it, mittens, hat, boots.  I load him last, usually just run out, buckle him in, buckle in the girls who are already in their seats with their straps on, and then they get their coats tucked around them.  DS gets a blanket tucked over him.  

 

If it's really cold and nasty (like during the 75mph wind storms) I'll climb in the front seat holding DS, and turn around and plunk him in his seat, and buckle him from there so I don't have to stand outside in the wind and nobody inside gets blasted by the wind.  But sometimes that's not an option (like I just had shoulder surgery so I can't be twisting around or even carrying the kids).

 

DD1 goes to a Waldorf school and as soon as they get to school they go outside for an hour-long walk (unless it's below -10*).  My routine with her is to park, reach back and unbuckle her, and have her climb into the front passenger seat.  I then take off her boots and help her into her snowsuit, put her boots back on, and get her puffy coat on.  


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#28 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 01:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indie View Post

I mean, seriously, the OP is talking about negative 40 degrees and you all are telling her to wear thin microfleece or put a poncho on. Crazy. The risk of hypothermia is clearly higher than the theoretical (which nobody seems to be able to quantify) risk of ejection in the possibility of an accident.


Yeah, we deal with -40 and WIND. It'd blow straight up underneath a poncho. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post

What about buying a remote starter and warming your car up first? I don't see how hypothermia would be a risk then, b/c by the time you have to remove the child's coat for 5 seconds to buckle them in (and then put it on backwards, or use blankets), the heater will be going strong.


We have a remote starter AND plug in our car at night (engine block heater) and still can barely get our heat on by the time we get to our destination (granted, the longest drive in our town is 15 minutes away). Gas is well over $5 a gallon and we'd have to run it for a LONG time at idle for it to get that warm.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2soren View Post

In such freezing temperatures, you could use the "coat trick" or put the coat on backwards after strapping the child in.  The "coat trick" is demonstrated in the first link I posted and at around 2:45 in this video.  



A few of my FB friends have posted this, and I've wondered... what the heck is the kid wearing while the parent puts the coat into the carseat? We don't have a garage. DS would have to wear his coat out to the car, take the coat off, climb into the car (remember it's not warm at this point, and windy, so he's in a still-mostly-cold car with the wind blowing in the door), and sit there shivering while I fiddled with his coat?


I WANT to go coatless in the carseat. I DO, in Wisconsin, and even in Anchorage. That kind of cold is totally do-able. -40 with wind blowing off the treeless tundra (we live on the edge of town; not even any houses to block the wind), when you don't have a garage, is a different challenge and I can't formulate a plan that would actually work. Heck, I feel bad taking him outside without snowpants, which are even more a no-no. Maybe buy another coat (a size up so he can use it next year as his main coat?) and keep it in the carseat, so the switch-out is faster? He'd still be coatless outside, though, which seems cruel. *I* can't imagine taking *my* coat off outside. I wear my puffy down parka whenever I drive when it's really cold.

 

So if anyone has any experience in keeping a kid warm doing this in REALLY cold conditions with no garage and a fairly crappy car, I'd appreciate the guidance.



You don't have to take his coat off to do the "coat trick".  Google it or go on youtube and watch some videos. 

 

I live in Northern Ontario and it gets pretty cold here.  DS2 is easy, he has a one peice fleece snowsuit from Land's End.  DS1 just wears his fleece/coat sweater or we do the coat trick with his big coat, depending on the temp., whether or not the vehicle has been running, if we are taking the truck that has been in the garage and where we're going. 


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#29 of 68 Old 12-11-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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'K, I'm going to give it a try. We take the boys out pretty infrequently; there's not much for them to do, usually. 


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Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post

'K, I'm going to give it a try. We take the boys out pretty infrequently; there's not much for them to do, usually. 



Here's one:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLTVPqn0aR8 


Jamie, busy Mama to my sweet little O Man, loving wife to Brian, and very excited about our new addition, the J Man, here after ourh20homebirth.gif
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