Updated December 2018
For infant seats, the key to keeping baby warm in the car seat is simply to cover the seat itself with a “shower cap” style cover. Unlike “footmuffs” that go inside the car seat (i.e., between baby’s back and the back of the car seat), these covers do the trick without interfering with the crash dynamics of the car seat itself.
This is the same reason we recommend against wearing thick coats or snowsuits in a car seat. While it may look allll squishy and safe, it’s not. In fact, if you take baby’s thick coat off and re-buckle him with the straps in the same position, you will notice all the empty space between him and the harness. Empty space is bad because it allows the head to travel farther forward in a crash.
The same principle applies for toddlers and preschoolers, but it’s a little harder because they don’t fit nicely in a tiny bucket. We have some items that will work for them — or you can just put a warm blanket on top.
Keeping Baby Warm in Car Seat
Car Seat Covers – For Infants
If you have an infant, the JJ Cole Car Seat Cover is a top pick. This machine washable seat cover is made of weather-resistant nylon with soft fleece on the inside. You can zip down the flap (or remove it altogether) to control the temperature.
While this cover is great for mildly cold temps, it is not the warmest option available. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon, keep reading…
A step up from the regular Jolly Jumper Sneak-A-Peek, this Canadian company makes an ULTRA warm infant car seat cover that has an additional blanket underneath, shaped perfectly to keep baby extra snug.
Cold weather mommies who have owned many seat covers swear by this one. Its thick, fleece-lined water repellent fabric protects baby from rain and snow, and dual zippers allow easy in and out.
*Note: May not fit larger car seats well, like the Graco SnugRide 40lb model.
3. 7 A.M. Enfant Nido ~ $69
The unique design of this cover eliminates layers between the car seat and baby’s back while allowing full access to the five-point harness. Safe, cute, comfy and warm.
*Better for very cold weather (below freezing).
4. Woolino Sleeping Bag ~ $99
Cross-posted from Best Wearable Blankets, this Merino Wool sleeping sack safely goes from crib to car seat.
The Woolino is made from premium hypoallergenic Australian merino wool. This one-size product fits babes 3m – 2yrs, so you’ll get a lot of mileage from it.
Car Seat Covers – For Toddlers/Preschoolers
1. The Car Seat Poncho ~ $39+
Created by a car seat technician in 2005, the car seat poncho is the darling stay-warm product of the car seat tech community.
Put the poncho over your child before heading out to the car, then drape the back of the poncho over the back of the seat [as you put him in], fasten your child’s harness, then zip it back down. Great for convertible or combination car seats (i.e., any seat with a harness).
2. Buckle Me Baby Coats ~ $79+
Buckle Me Baby Coats have a built-in flap that makes them safe for use in the car seat. You unsnap the front of the coat and move it to the side so the harness still fits snugly over baby (see below), then snap the front of the coat back over the harness for warmth. It takes a bit of extra finagling to tuck the coat out of the way of the harness on either side, but if you don’t mind that, the Buckle Me coat is a clever solution to the car seat/winter coat dilemma.
The inside is made of polar fleece and an intact panel of fill which is quilted in so there are no “leaky” spots where cold air can seep in. Comes in sizes 6/9 months through size 8.