A recent move from balmy Vancouver Island to my home turf of north-central Ontario — smack in the middle of the snow belt — had me thinking more carefully about how to keep my kids warm and safe in their car seats this winter. My kids were quite used to wearing only a fleece while buckled up, and I had already found two nice cozy blankets to keep in the van (matching of course – who wants to hear arguing about which kid has which blanket?), but I wondered about my other options.
Enter the Cozywoggle, a very innovative car seat-safe coat that looks and performs like a regular winter jacket, yet creatively unzips so there is no interference or extra bulk between the harness and the child. That is the most important message in this post: no interference or extra bulk between the harness and the child. A car seat’s effectiveness depends on the seat being appropriate for the child, installed properly, and used properly — at all times — and close contact between the harness and the child is a key component of that trifecta of car seat safety.
The Cozywoggle coat was invented by a mom of two young kids, out of frustration and necessity, and I first encountered it nearly a year ago when I foisted myself upon the inventor Cherlyn Jenkins asking about her product. I was full of questions, and to be honest, somewhat skeptical about a coat claiming to be crash tested as there are no standards, American or Canadian, for unregulated aftermarket products. Cherlyn, to her great credit, began an in-depth conversation with me, and went so far as to send me the crash test results and report. They showed the injury criterion for the dummy was within all allowable ranges while wearing the coat. And then she sent me a sample of the coat to try out!
I once asked Cherlyn why she went to the trouble and expense of testing something that doesn’t come between the child and the harness and she told me, “I wasn’t going to have it crash tested because it just made sense to me that it would be safe. Then one day I had a little “what-if” thought. What if there was something that I couldn’t foresee? I would hate to put something out on the market that would harm a child so I did it to put my mind at rest. I wanted to be responsible about it.” Music to a tech’s ears!
When seeing the sample coat (navy, size 3T, pictured above left) I was impressed: well-made (I sew, so I notice these details), high quality materials, well-proportioned, and warm. My two year old didn’t want to take it off and pronounced it ‘so cozy!’ The outer shell is a heavy-duty water-resistant polyester, and is lined with cozy fleece on the body, and a slick nylon on the sleeves for ease of dressing. If your kids are anything like mine and freak out if their shirt sleeves pull up when putting on a coat you will appreciate that small detail!
This year we wanted to really try it out during daily use, and in colder weather. Both Laura and I received a coat to test on our kids. First a few pictures of how it works.
This child is harnessed under the coat. The coat unzips along the sides so the back of the coat can be flipped up behind the child’s head, and the front can spread out on the child’s lap. We do this once she’s already sitting in her seat to minimize exposure to the cold. Note that the hood can be removed for those kids who don’t like them.
Under the coat is a well-adjusted harness — no interference at all.
When it’s time to get out of the car seat simply unbuckle the harness and have your child pop their hands through the wrist holes, which are never fully unzipped for quicker re-zipping. Older toddlers can easily learn to do this step themselves.
Final step, either while still in the vehicle or once outside, as you prefer, hand up and one quick and easy zip straight down to do the coat up. And that’s it.
The Cozywoggle works just as well for a forward-facing child.
Don’t worry parents of older kids — it works well in boosters too! Close contact with the seat belt is important for boostered kids and adults, and that applies to you too!
The Cozywoggle is available in sizes 12m, 18m, 2T, 3T, 4, 5, and 6, and comes in light pink, navy blue, royal purple, and red. The navy coat pictured above is a 3T (on a large 2 year old), the red a 5 (on a tall 5.5 year old), and the purple a 6 (on an 8 year old), and the red in the snowy pictures is the same size 5 but on a large 3 year old. They are sized generously enough to accommodate layers for added warmth, but the coat itself is very warm on its own. No need to size up when ordering – if your child wears a 3 now then ordering a 3 will leave room for layers this year and most likely fit next year too. I have to admit I was surprised that my 3 year old didn’t want to wear more than her usual t-shirt on a recent snowy day, even though the 5 is big on her. Those in a cold snap, or outside for extended periods, will want to layer up though, as would be the case with any coat.
The Cozywoggle purposely does not come in sizes smaller than 12m to avoid any risk of the hood or back of the coat pushing an infant’s head forward. Doing so could compromise the airway of a baby, and this product should not be used until a child properly fits the 12m size.
You can watch Cherlyn tell her story and see the coat in action here:
The Cozywoggle retails for $74.99, and can be ordered directly from the inventor. Stay tuned for news of the coat coming directly into Canada to make the product more readily accessible. CJ’s Kids, maker of the Cozywoggle, is giving our readers a $15 discount through January 31st; use the code VITECHS at checkout. Given the flexibility of the coat, longevity of fit, and high quality of the construction we feel that is good value for a great product.
Big thanks to CJ’s Kids for providing two Cozywoggle coats for us to use and try out. All opinions are our own. Go forth and stay warm!