Homegrown with Hope: How to stay warm in car seats

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The meteorologists have spoken; the cold is here to stay. I've been dreading this for a number of reasons. Mostly because as the temperature has been dropping, I've had more and more practice with a special dance parents of kids in the Midwest are forced to do.

It's a tango to get into the winter gear, a quickstep to hurry everyone out the door, and a shimmy to buckle into the car seat without the bulky winter coats interfering with the safety of the harness. If this, too, has turned your family's transportation experiences into a "hustle," I found a mom with experience and answers to take the lead in this Homegrown with Hope.

Tanya Nelson says she's learned a lot over the years, raising two kids and battling North Dakota winters. She's trained her family to get suited up and out the door in the winter in a timely fashion, but says she still plans about 10 minutes extra to get going. State car seat safety experts say children's bulky winter coats aren't safe for car seats, because they compress in a crash and leave too much space between the child's body and the harness.

Tanya's key to solving the issue is dressing her children in layers. Leggings, fleece and thin sweatshirt will get her children through the garage into their car seats.

"We just leave our coats in the car and we bundle up in whatever layers we need so they aren't thick layers. Not puffy. We hop in the car. We buckle in. If it's really cold, I'll pull a blanket over their laps. They can pull it up if they want to," Tanya said.

She says it's particularly handy for a quick exit, as in a school drop-off line.

Other parents might put the winter coat on backwards while making their way through the cold and into the car. Though it can be tempting to just loosen the straps the fit the coat, experts say even the short trips can present a risk. The North Dakota Department of Transportation reports seven out of 10 car seats are used wrong. So, drop by a car seat check up for more advice. For more information on car seat check ups, click here: http://www.ndhealth.gov/injuryprevention/childpassenger/Info/CarSeatCheckups.pdf

Some parents create a type of poncho made from a blanket, or fleece. Make a hole to fit over a child’s head, maybe even fashion on a hood, and the child can wear it from the house to the car since the blanket will fit over the car seat straps.