Updated February 2018
My daughter is very fond of blankets and items that she can use as a blanket. These include but are not restricted to large dish rags, wet bath towels, cloth diaper inserts and now, her Mouse&Hatter Car Seat Poncho.
Her biggest gripe about regular blankets and most blanket substitutes is that they slide off her body when she moves. Imagine her delight when she discovered I could snap her poncho around her neck and she could walk around with a blanket that would never fall off?! Best. Day. Ever.
The purpose of a car seat poncho is not, surprisingly, to appease a blanket-loving toddler. It is to keep a child warm in their car seat without the use of bulky snowsuits, which interfere with the harness straps. If you read the part of your car seat manual that most of us never read, it specifies not to dress your child in thick winter clothing while riding in the car seat. You need to loosen the harness straps to accommodate the extra bulk and that can make straps dangerously loose in the case of a collision.
Here in Calgary, we enjoyed more snow in the first four days of November than we usually experience in the entire month. I’ve had to bust out the big guns to keep the kids warm much earlier than normal. To keep Miss Cub warm in the car seat, she wears layers:
- A long-sleeved onesie
- A long-sleeved T-shirt or thin sweater
- Fleece pants
- Skights thigh-high socks (kinda like wearing long johns but without extra layers at the bum, since her cloth diaper is already bulky enough)
- Stonz Booties or snow boots
- A neck warmer
- A toque
- Mittens (depending on thumb-sucking desire)
- Ski goggles (depending on whether she sees them before we leave and insists on wearing them)
- Her compressible down coat from MEC (called the Cocoon)
- Her Mouse&Hatter Poncho
All of this is in lieu of full-on puffy snow pants and a winter jacket. When I drop her at daycare, I send along her snow pants and winter shell jacket (which fits perfectly over her MEC coat) in case they play outside. That said, not only is she plenty warm enough with her poncho on to go from car to destination, but also to wait for the school bus with her brother or to take transit home after dropping off our car at the mechanic.
The Mouse&Hatter Poncho unsnaps fully down the front. When you seat your child in their car seat, you flip the back of the poncho over the back of their seat, then buckle them in as normal. If you want, you can button the poncho back up. My daughter prefers it open so she can play with her toys and suck her thumb. You can also use snaps inside the poncho to create “sleeves” if that makes your child more comfortable when playing outside.My daughter is just over 2 years old and typically wears size 2-3T. She wears the Size 4 Mouse&Hatter Poncho. It’s a perfect fit, and likely would’ve also worked last year. I expect it will be fine for next season as well.
The poncho is made of a solid or printed (ridiculously soft) minky outer and is lined with anti-pill fleece. Prices start at CAN$75 for the smallest sizes. The quality is obvious and impeccable, and the Mouse&Hatter Car Seat Poncho does exactly what it’s supposed to do: keeps your child cozy and safe in the car in cold weather.
Update: Miss Cub is now on her third winter season using her poncho! She is just over 3 feet tall and is 3.5 years old. She is now riding forward-facing and her poncho still keeps her cozy on frigid days.