NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With the cooler temperatures we’ve had lately, we’ve all been breaking out the heavy coats for ourselves and for our children. For the youngsters, that could affect how you strap them in their car safety seat.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says “puffy” or heavy coats shouldn’t be worn by the child while in the seat.

Dr. Holly Hanson, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt explained why.

“When you put a child in a coat and then you put them in a car seat, that provides a sort of a soft buffer that keeps the staps from being snug against a child’s body,” Dr. Hanson said. “If you’re in an accident, that provides room for a child to move and increases the risk of harm, or even in some of the worst cases, ejection from the car seat because those straps just aren’t snug enough.”

So how can a parent keep the child warm safely?

“Strap your child in and then put a blanket over their legs or over their body but never underneath the straps,” Dr. Hanson said. “The straps should go directly over the child’s body.”

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“Puffy” coats refer to not only pleated down jackets but to any heavy padded winter coat or sweater, as well.