A parent has shared an important reminder not to parent-shame this winter if you see a young child without a heavy winter jacket - because it may have to do with safety.
According to the PSA, shared on Reddit and up-voted more than 2,000 times, the explanation for babies or toddlers who appear inappropriately dressed for cold weather often has to do with maintaining the effectiveness of their car seats.
“If you’re out and about and see a parent with a baby/toddler who isn’t wearing a coat, please don’t assume that parent is some kind of monster who doesn’t care if their kids freeze,” the post reads. “New car seat guidelines avidly warn against children wearing coats in car seats - and this makes it really challenging for caregivers (particularly those with multiple small children) to get kids out of the house then in the car then out of the car again and into the destination.”
The post then describes the various solutions parents employ to deal with the issue - such as blankets or lots of warm layers, gloves and hats.
“So what I’m trying to say is, cut parents some slack,” the post concludes. “We’re trying. And we’re doing everything we can to make sure our kids are warm while maintaining our sanity.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): “As a general rule, bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat.”
This is because if a car crash were to occur, fluffy padding would flatten out from the force and leave extra space in the harness, which could allow a child to be thrown from the seat.
Even if straps appear tight on a winter jacket, there is likely excess room that could endanger a child.
The reminder has resonated with many other parents, who have also struggled with the dilemma of properly attiring their children only to have to remove the layers each time they are placed in a car seat.
“Omg! This! I was totally mum-shamed at Costco. It was warm inside and I carried her in wrapped in my coat and a lady had to comment not just once but THREE times,” one mum responded.
Another said: “Thank you for giving me piece of mind. I worried if I was a bad mum by doing this but I’d rather them be slightly chilly for 10 seconds than to be severely hurt if we were ever in an accident and they had their bulky coats on.”
"Thank you. I've been trying to figure this out and getting dirty looks in the mean time. I've tried blanket (what a joke with a squirmy baby), the coat shuffle, and wrapping her in my coat. I've yet to find the perfect solution," someone else commented.
Other parents have shared their tips for keeping children warm in the car and outside while also keeping them safe.
“I ended up taking a fleece blanket and cutting a neck hole for him to wear as a poncho - no sewing involved!” one mum wrote. “Now the only comments I get are ‘I need one of those’ from other mums.”
Another said she made one by sewing together two layers of fleece with a layer of flannel in between - while others suggested brands who make car seat-safe ponchos.
In addition to ponchos, the AAP recommends hats, gloves, and blankets to keep a child warm in their car seat - but reminds parents to put any extra layers on top after the children are secured in the car seat.
According to the AAP, you can generally tell if your child is safely strapped into a car seat by pinching the harness. If you can pinch the straps between your fingers, it needs to be tightened.
Apart from shaming over lack of winter coats, other parents have also added to the PSA, suggesting that parents not be criticised if their children are outside without gloves and hats.
“See also hats and gloves outside. Yes her little hands are cold. Yes I have mittens for her. No she won’t keep them on for more than 17 seconds,” one parent wrote.