Updated on October 18, 2018
Baby Parka Toddler Coat Review
I received this item at no cost to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.
Winter car seat safety is something that I take very seriously. I live in a part of the world that typically has freezing temperatures for 6 or more months of the year. We get snow, we get ice, we get wind, and yet we still have to carry on with our lives. I’m all for products that make surviving winter with kids easier. I want my kids to be warm when they are in the car. I really do. I also want them to be safe when they are in the car. Wearing winter coats or snowsuits under the harness straps of the car seat is NOT safe. Period. The good news is that there are options available that allow you to buckle the car seat harness correctly and keep your child warm in winter. I’ve recently had the pleasure of trying out the Baby Parka Toddler Coat which allows your child to stay warm in the car seat without the hassle of removing their coat. Here’s how it works and what I think about it.
The Baby Parka Toddler Coat is a winter weight coat with zippers that run along both sides of the coat. Those zippers can be fully unzipped turning the coat into a poncho. When those zippers are open, the back of the poncho can be lifted up over a convertible or child car seat so that nothing sits between your child and their seat. The side zippers start at the hand openings and run down to the bottom of the coat.
The zipper in the front makes it easy to get the coat on and off. When putting your child into their seat, you can unzip the front of the coat so you have full access to the harness buckles. This makes it really easy to secure your child into their seat. If it’s super cold and you haven’t had a chance to warm up the car, you can close the front zipper to keep the child warm.
The toddler coat consists of three layers. The outer layer is wind and water resistant, and there are reflective strips along the back, front, and hood of the coat. The middle layer is a thermal Powderfill, and the inside of the coat is an anti-pill fleece. The Baby Parka Toddler Coat is also made in Canada!
How It Works:
The Baby Parka Toddler Coat fits The Heir quite well. He is 3 years and 4 months old, 39″ tall, and somewhere around 30-31 lbs. The coat comes down to his knees, and the sleeves are long enough that he may still fit into this coat next winter (I’d say there’s a good 2-3 inches before it would be too short in the arms). As is often the case with a three year old, he wasn’t exactly keen on wearing it at first (in defence of the Toddler Coat, he isn’t keen on wearing anything new). Once we renamed it (it’s now called his Darth Maul coat), he was more than happy to put it on and pose for pictures! The Heir prefers to wear it with the sleeves zipped closed (as a coat) rather than as a poncho, and I prefer the look of the Toddler Coat when the sleeves are zipped closed too. Unzipping the sides and making it a poncho makes buckling up the car seat a breeze. I find that I don’t even need to unzip the front of the coat to secure the harness. I can reach underneath it to get his arms in and tighten the harness so it passes the pinch test. I do, however, LOVE that unzipping the front is an option because sometimes you just need to be able to see what you’re doing! The back of the Toddler Coat lifts up over the back of the car seat with ease, so you know it’s completely out of the way of the harness.
How warm is the Toddler Coat? Very. Usually around this time of year, the temperature is well below zero… As luck would have it, the day the Baby Parka Toddler Coat arrived a huge Chinook rolled into Calgary. If you’re not from Alberta, a Chinook is a warm wind that turns our sub-zero temperatures into warm weather (usually a shift upwards of 10-20 degrees Celsius). I waited and waited for the Chinook to end, but it’s still not back below freezing here. Despite the “warm” temperatures, I wanted to give the Baby Parka Toddler Coat a try! I can tell you that this coat is really warm. It’s so warm in fact, that I would suggest keeping it unzipped in the car if you’ve already warmed it up. If your child is able to undo the zipper him/herself, then you can leave it zipped, but it’s warm enough that your child will probably want to be able to open it up once they are comfortable and toasty in the car. For playing outside, The Heir was plenty warm with just a long sleeve t-shirt underneath when it was hovering around 3 degrees Celsius (that’s 37F). With an extra layer underneath, I am confident that The Heir would be warm in the Toddler Coat well into the double digits below zero. The folks over at Baby Parka have heard from customers who use this coat outside when the wind chill dips the temperature down to -40C/F. So when I say it’s warm, I really mean it!
For playing outside in the snow, you definitely want the Toddler Coat zipped into a coat. I found that it caught the wind a bit when it was unzipped into a poncho. That’s not a huge deal for quick trips between the car and your destination, but for play time in the snow, zipped is better. I also want to mention the shape and style of the coat as it is a bit unusual. The shape of the arms is angled (sort of like a squirrel suit) which is what allows it to function as a poncho. At first, the shape seemed really odd, but once it was on The Heir, it actually looked okay. It’s probably not styled in such a way that it would replace The Heir’s regular winter coat on days when we aren’t taking the car, but it’s totally fine and functional for the post-preschool play time outside, or wearing at the zoo in the winter time (or anywhere you need to drive to!).
I really like that this coat comes with reflective strips. It gets dark so early in winter, so we are often navigating parking lots in the dark. For those early evening grocery trips, the reflector strips are great. I know that other drivers can see The Heir when we are crossing the street or walking through a parking lot. That’s awesome.
One thing that didn’t work so well for The Heir was how high the front zipper goes. If you zip it all the way up, his mouth is fully covered. I never thought I’d run the risk of catching his lips in a zipper, but the zipper goes just a bit higher than I’d like. It’s not a major problem as I just don’t zip it all the way up, but is something that could be improved. I do wish the coat was waterproof and not just water resistant. That would make it possible for the coat to replace a regular winter coat, as you wouldn’t need to worry about wet snow soaking through.
The Baby Parka Toddler Coat is a “one size” coat. Since I only have one child that would fit into it, I borrowed a friend’s toddler! Meet H. She will be turning two years old in two weeks, is 34″ tall, and 29 lbs. The Toddler Coat just fits her. It goes well below her knees, so it’s not something she could really wear for playing or walking outside. It would, however, still work just fine in the car for her. As a bonus, the Toddler Coat can fit a child from H’s age for a good 3 years and could be passed along to younger siblings.
The Baby Parka Toddler Coat washes up really well too! There was a minor incident the first time The Heir wore it, so it needed to be washed. I followed the directions on the tag, washed it in the washing machine and dried it in the dryer, and it came out good as new! I love that it’s machine washable, because, well, toddlers.
- Wind and water resistant.
- Zippers under the arms open the coat all the way up into a poncho.
- Safe to use as a poncho in a convertible or child seat as nothing goes between the child and their seat or harness.
- Warm enough for freezing temperatures.
- Front zipper makes adjusting the car seat harness easy and allows the child to open the coat up if they get too warm in the car.
- “One size” means it will fit for a few years and can be passed down to younger siblings.
- Made in Canada!
- Not waterproof.
- Front zipper comes up a bit too high.
- Very long on younger toddlers (under 2).
- Doesn’t really replace a regular winter coat.
The Baby Parka Toddler Coat is a nice option for keeping your kids safe and warm in their car seats without adding bulk under the harness or between the child and their seat. The cost is a little high at $110 CAD, but it is made in Canada and will fit for at least two winters (if not three). For those reasons, I think the cost is justified. The Baby Parka Toddler Coat is available to purchase from Lil’ Monkey Cheeks and directly from Baby Parka and ships for free within Canada.