Parents advised to double check car seat harness tension this winter

Do the Two Finger Test when using thick coats or snowsuits

Parents are being advised to double check the tension of car seat harnesses, particularly when their babies and toddlers wear thick coats or snowsuits this winter. The advice comes from baby company Morrck, who says many UK parents don’t realise the effect that thick outdoor clothing can have on the fit of car seat harness straps or the potential consequences of straps being too loose.

“Parents may be very surprised at the amount of slack a coat or snow suit can cause. For a car seat harness to work properly, the straps need to be tightly strapped against the child’s chest. When a child wears a snowsuit or thick coat, the straps are usually adjusted to the thickness of the coat, not the chest. If the car was in an accident, the coat could compress, making the straps too loose and reducing the level of protection for the child,” explains Isobel Thompson, mum of three and founder of Morrck, creator of the Baby Hoodie.

To test whether you have correct harness tension when using a coat or snowsuit, Morrck advises you do the two finger test:

1. Put the coat on the child.
2. Strap the child into the car seat and tighten to ensure a snug fit.
3. Remove the child from the car seat – without loosening the straps.
4. Take the coat off the child.
5. Strap the child back into the seat – but don’t adjust the straps.
6. Do the Two finger test. If you can fit more than two fingers underneath the harness at the child’s shoulder bone, the harness tension needs to be tightened or avoid using the coat in the car seat.

See this video on how to do the two finger test.

According to the UK Department of Transport, 60 to 80% of all car seats are used incorrectly, with harness tension being the single biggest failing. Getting the correct harness tension is even more difficult in winter as it is hard to tell whether you have a good harness fit if a child is wearing a thick coat.

“To get the correct harness tension over a puffy snowsuit or thick coat, a parent really has to tighten it substantially, which can make the child uncomfortable as their freedom of movement is restricted. Being tightly strapped in a thick coat can also lead to the child overheating once the car warms up,” explains Isobel.

She continues: “The safest bet is to strap the child into their seat wearing their indoor clothing so you can be assured of the correct harness tension. To keep them warm before the car has had a chance to heat up, parents can place a coat or blanket over the top of their child, or use a product like our Baby Hoodie, which is designed expressly for this purpose. The key is to ensure that whatever is used, still gives you easy access to the harness release button.”

Morrck’s Baby Hoodie helps keep babies both warm and safe as it fits into a carseat, with slots for the harness straps to pass through. The baby is then strapped in as normal with the straps tight against their chest. The hoodie is then wrapped around the baby, keeping them snug and warm, but is easy to fold open once the car heats up. As it has no fastenings, clips, zips or Velcro, it also offers easy access to the harness release button.

Morrck’s Baby Hoodie has been tested by an independent testing facility and it was certified as having passed the relevant elements of the ECE Reg R44.04 car seat safety test. Baby Hoodies cost from £32.95 and are available from