Being pregnant in the winter is tough. Not only do you have to figure out how to get your boots on and off, but your winter coat just won't fit around your belly! You could buy a maternity coat, OR you can go another route by getting a coat extension by Kokoala that'll last you throughout your pregnancy AND while babywearing!!
Kokoala has 7 different types of coat extensions, from waterproof heavy nylon fleece (available in regular 22"-30" zipper for $86-$99 and long 31"-39" zipper for $108-$119) and good for the harshest winters, to a simple lightweight fleece extender ($40) for spring and fall. They even have a mini extension ($30) for the beginning or middle of pregnancy when you're not huge yet but still struggling to get your jacket closed.
For my first child (a Christmas baby), I bought a super cheap maternity coat. It looked nice, and it lasted til the end of my pregnancy and for babywearing as well, but it wasn't warm enough for winter in NYC, so I had to bundle up with 2 hoodies under it to stay relatively warm (still not warm enough!), and baby had to be bundled up as well. So annoying!! The second time around, our twins were born in early October so thankfully I didn't need a winter maternity coat. I didn't do a lot of baby wearing but did on occasion, so this time I wore my regular winter coat (super warm puffy monster) and pulled it tight using a scarf as a belt over the coat and baby. This kept me warm and kept the wind and cold from entering from the open coat, but it didn't keep baby warm since she didn't have any coat around her, so I still had to bundle her up. Suffice it to say, it wasn't a great system and I was very very intrigued by the coat extensions Kokoala had to offer and really excited to try it out!!
Here's how it works. You go on their website and choose the style you want. I went with the original. You then select the color and the type of zipper - the latter is the part I struggled with the most! Some coats are easy to figure out (my husband's for example was very obviously YKK metal), mine on the other hand I didn't really know. I e-mailed them a picture and they helped me make the best choice.
When the product arrives, it comes in 1 or 2 sets. If you have a very standard zipper, you'll get the extension panel with zippers already on it. If you have a less common zipper, you'll get the panel with velcro and a separate zipper set - this is what we got. In this case, you unzip it and zip each half onto your coat. Each half has a velcro strip to which the coat extension will attach to. The diagrams that come with it make it easy to figure out how to wear it - wide side down during pregnancy and wide side up for babywearing!
We got 2 sets of zippers so we could wear the panel on 2 different coats - my husband's and mine. My husband's coat set up perfectly without a hitch. Super easy! Mine on the other hand, no dice. I think in the end the zipper was not a close enough match and I just couldn't get it to work (though it did fit on my spring coat). But have no fear, Kokoala lists a 30-day return period (shipping not included, and return must be pre-approved by Kokoala), just be sure not to remove any tags or labels until you've confirmed your set works perfectly on your coat!
One cool feature is that the zippers and panel are good for a variety of lengths and include a little removable velcro tab so you can fold them over to make it the perfect length for your coat.
Here's the coat set up for pregnancy on the left and babywearing on the right. It also features a 2-point adjustable width so you can get it fitting just right!
So, now that the coat is set up, time to test it out! We didn't realize the panel should have been shortened to be safer for baby, instead we simply folded it back (below right) which seemed to work just fine, but please take note the safety advisory from Kokoala below!
SAFETY NOTE FROM KOKOALA: We do not recommend to cover baby's head with our coat extension (as shown in photo above left - this is NOT safe), instead use the baby hood for that purpose. The coat extension should be adjusted (as shown below) so that the elastic is behind baby's neck (shown below right).
We haven't had a chance to test it out in the extreme cold yet (it's 70 degrees today, ummm... where is Fall???), but it seems like it'll do a great job and it's really easy to set up and use! Did I mention it's waterproof and washable? YES!
Now, some may wonder why one would buy this panel when you could find a maternity coat for pretty much the same price. Well, good question. For my friends down in the South, it's probably not worth the investment. But my sister lives up in Montreal, and I can tell you, they spend a LOT on their winter coats that last them for years and years and keep them warm in the FRIGID weather up there. So, as Kokoala is a Canadian company, I'm thinking this panel is geared more toward those in colder climates who can't afford a maternity coat of the caliber needed, so they can buy this extension and continue wearing their super duper warm coat they love throughout pregnancy and babywearing. It's also great for city-dwellers who simply don't have the closet or storage space for more than one winter jacket - think about all the space a warm maternity coat would take up when stored in between babies! That is valuable space!!
Kokoala also carries a few great babywearing accessories: scarf ($24), baby hood ($19), baby fleece booties ($20), & zipper adapters ($18).
What's more?? The grand prize winner of my $480 value Winter is Coming Giveaway (ending tomorrow night!!!) will receive a $50 credit to use on Kokoala's website!!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive these products free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!