As the weather starts to chill, parents begin to search for ways to keep their infant toasty warm while traveling in the car.
When strolling down the aisle at Big Box Baby Store, a seemingly genius cold-weather solution – the JJ Cole Bundle Me – is a common product parents grab. And, I am starting to see many of these UNSAFE blankets? installed in the car seats brought into my office.
The Bundle Me initially seems like a great idea. It stays attached to the seat so baby won’t kick it off. It is easy to use and install. It even boasts compliance with “FMVSS 213” safety standards. Sounds very official, doesn’t it?
The problem is that the Bundle Me is an aftermarket product. ANY aftermarket product is NOT SAFE to use within an infant’s car seat.
Why is the Bundle Me unsafe?
1. The Bundle Me changes the integrity of the car seat design.
Your infant’s car seat is designed to very specific standards to maintain effective protection. The seats are subsequently subjected to crash tests to ensure safety. Anything that interferes with the design of the seat as tested in crash tests, cannot insure adequate protection.
Specifically, the Bundle Me puts extra padding between your baby and the car seat. Although this padding may not seem like very much, it will compress during an accident and increase the slack of the car seat’s straps. Even a small amount of belt slack can result in your infant not restrained properly, leaving room for your baby to be ejected from the car seat.
In addition, the Bundle Me slits often do not match the car seat harness position. This forces the straps to be re-routed (up or down) to fit through the holes. Re-routing means slack. Slack mean poor protection.
2. The Bundle Me is not recommended by any car seat manufacturer, often voiding the warranty of your child’s car seat.
In other words, if your child gets injured or killed while using this car seat aftermarket product, the car seat manufacturer is not responsible for the lack of protection the car seat provided.
Here is one example from the popular Britax company’s warranty:
3. The Bundle Me can comply with safety standards without full crash testing.
Tricky, huh? The claim on the package on the Bundle Me can be legally made even without complete crash testing data in every car seat design. The Bundle Me may have passed “tests performed on car seats”, but was it your baby’s car seat? Who knows?
The only items that can be confidently used with your baby’s car seat are the items that came in the box. Those items have passed safety tests with that specific seat. Not in the box? Don’t use it.
So, how can I keep my infant warm in her car seat?
1. Keep it simple. Strap in your baby and tuck blankets around her. This will keep baby warm without changing the harness’ proper fit.
2. Use a better alternative. The shower-cap-like car seat cover is a much better choice for cool weather use. The cover fits snuggly over the top of the seat to protect from the cold, but does not interfere with how the car seat functions.
Bottom line: The Bundle Me is a great addition to a stroller, but keep it out of the car seat.
Stay safe out there!