Buckle, don’t bundle children in car seats this winter
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
An icy and snowy winter can lead to slippery roads and car crashes. To keep children
safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges families to buckle up young children
in a car seat in the back seat. In addition, children should not be bundled up in
bulky clothing because it can be hard to keep the car seat harness tight.
The AAP recommends that young children ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back
seat until they reach the top weight and height recommended by the car seat manufacturer.
Most children can remain in a rear-facing seat until age 2 or older, making it an
easy rule that all drivers should follow, said Benjamin D. Hoffman, M.D., FAAP, an
AAP injury prevention expert.
“Children are safer when they remain rear-facing as long as possible,” he said.
The reason for this is that young children carry more weight in the upper part of
their bodies than adults. Their heads are large compared to their body size, their
backbones are shallower and bones are connected more loosely. This raises their risk
of getting a spine injury in a crash.
When a car comes to a sudden, violent stop, a rear-facing car seat will cradle a young
child’s entire back and spread out the force of the crash. This can help lower the
chance that the child will have serious neck or spine injuries, Dr. Hoffman said.
The AAP also reminds parents to check that their children are buckled in tight in
cold weather. Instead of bulky clothing like snowsuits or winter coats, parents should
dress children in thin layers before buckling them in. It is difficult to secure the
car seat harness over bulky clothes. If the harness is not tight enough, children
can slip out of their seats in a crash.
A blanket or car seat cover can be used over the harness and child. A hat and mittens
can provide added warmth.