By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Correctly buckling up a young child in a car seat is crucial to their safety. But did you know that what the child is wearing can make a difference?

If a child is wearing a puffy, bulky coat, you may not be able to get the car seat straps tight enough, so they won’t be secure during a crash. Well a New England start-up is offering a solution. It’s called Buckle Me Baby Coats, and WBZ found out how it works.

“This coat just makes it a little bit easier for them to get in and out of the seat, safely and easily,” says Dahlia Rizk.

Buckle Me Baby Coats is Rizk’s brainchild. She’s developing it at her New Hampshire home. She wants her coat to enhance safety, because safety organizations have a warning for parents.

Buckle Me Baby Coats (WBZ-TV)

The American Academy of Pediatrics says: “Bulky clothing including winter coats and snowsuits should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat.”

“That’s really difficult for parents,” Dahlia says.

Especially in the winter when parents don’t want to take off their children’s coats every time they put them in a car seat. “I designed a coat that you can actually keep the coat on and use the car seat at the same time,” she says.

Dahlia demonstrated the problem by putting a child with a puffy coat in a car seat and snugging up the snaps. It looks secure, but you’re not taking into account that the fabric can compress in a crash.

Buckle Me Baby Coats (WBZ-TV)

Then she puts the same child back in the same seat without a coat. There’s a lot of slack in the straps.

“When you’re talking about injuries in a car crash you’re talking about a question of millimeters, so any amount of space is dangerous,” she says.

Dahlia’s design eliminates the space. The front panel pulls to the side and the shoulder seams are set back. “The straps are under the coat. They’re on the chest where they belong and there’s no excess fabric in the way,” she says.

Dahlia hired a university crash test center to compare a mannequin wearing her coat, to one wearing no coat. “We have side by side footage showing that as the sled moves forward, the head movement on our child with no coat on, and the head movement of the child with our coat on, is almost the same,” she explains.

Buckle Me Baby Coats just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and has begun taking orders. Coats cost $85, and will ship starting in September, so people will have them for next winter.

Paula Ebben


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