As if being a parent of a baby isn't stressful enough, trying to travel safely during a season fraught with frigid temperatures and more cars on the road than usual can be overwhelming. Even with a great heating system in your vehicle, you're probably still interested in hacks to keep your baby warm in a cold car. Whether you're going out for a quick trip to the store or you're packing up for a long drive to visit family for the holidays, you'll want to make sure your little one is comfortable despite the weather outside.
It certainly doesn't help that there always seems to be some new piece of advice or warning — each more absolute and urgent than the last — when it comes to what you should and shouldn't do for your baby. From friends and family who mean well to complete strangers and online comment sections, everyone has an opinion. So how do you sift through all this information? First and foremost, I suggest you trust your gut. Your first instinct is often the right one, since every parent's top priority is their child's safety. As always, it's never a bad idea to double check your intuition with your baby's physician. So as you get ready to bundle up and hit the road, check out these ways to keep your baby warm in a cold car.
1. Plan Ahead
This one might seem like a no-brainer to those who are familiar with cold temperatures, but it was light bulb moment for this Florida gal who rarely experiences anything below 70 degrees. If you have the time and ability, Babble recommended you simply turn on your car and get the heater going before you put your baby in their seat. That way the transition from your cozy house to chilly weather and into a toasty car won't be so jarring.
2. Layer After, Not Before
As Consumer Reports noted, bulky clothing isn't safe to wear in a car seat because it could cause the straps not to function properly in the case of an accident So how do you keep your baby warm without turning them into the Michelin Man? According to the experts at Baby Center, you can still dress your child in layers, just put them on after you have buckled them in safely. Putting a winter coat on backwards may seem odd, but it will still keep them cozy during the car ride.
3. Invest In Attachments
Babies are expensive and, if you're anything like me, you try to stretch your budget as far as possible. One item I bought which turned out to be well worth the cost was a protective car seat cover that was detachable, like this JJ Cole weather-resistant carrier cover. It turns out the experts agree that this is an investment that will pay for itself, too. According to the official site for Graco, a top car seat and stroller company, you should "look for insulated sleeping bags that are made specifically to attach to strollers in lieu of blankets." Just make sure to periodically check their temperature because pre-verbal babies won't be able to tell you if they're getting too warm on a long trip.
Since bulky clothing can be both dangerous and possibly lead to overheating, what are some additional ways you can keep your baby comfortable in a cold car? Carole Kramer-Arsenault, a registered nurse and author, told Parents to "top [baby's outfit] off with mittens, a snug-fitting hat, and warm boots." By adding these accessories, you're not only ensuring your baby's warmth, but you're not compromising their safety since their head, hands, and feet won't interfere with a car seat's function.
5. Suit Up
For babies between one month and one year, a convenient solution is to opt for some sleek-fitting gear, like Columbia's infant snowsuit with removable hoodie, mittens, and footies. As Dr. Mark Widome, a professor of pediatrics at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, confirmed to CNN, snowsuits are a safe, warm option for cold car rides as long as the outfit does not have drawstrings or anything that could be a strangulation hazard.
6. Avoid Moisture
Whether you live in an area where it snows or you're simply going to be spending an extended amount of time in the car, moisture is a concern. That's why the experts at What To Expect When You're Expecting recommended you dress your infant in water-resistant attire during travel since wet clothing can lower your baby's temperature. The Easy Mom & Baby Breathable infant bodysuits will keep the heat in and the moisture out.
7. Consider Sleep Conditions
If you're going to be traveling overnight or long enough that your child will likely fall asleep during the ride, it's a good idea to think about how to keep them warm while sleeping in the car. As Dr. William Sears, a baby expert and pediatrician, told Parenting, parents should skip the blankets until around 12 months due to the suffocation risks and try a sleep sack instead. You might consider The Gro Company's Travel GroBag, a sleep sack approved for use with car seats that is endorsed by The Lullaby Trust, a U.K.-based charity organization devoted to preventing SIDS and infant injuries.