Don't Let Your Newborn Sleep in the Car Seat: News You Need!

Suzanne Murray
baby car seat sleeping breathing

Photo by stormi2

We've all done it: The baby falls asleep in the car and you don't want to wake him so you bring the car seat into the house and let him sleep. I did this all the time with my daughter! But new research shows that letting your baby sleep in a car seat isn't a good—or safe—idea. While there's no doubt that using a car safety seat can save your baby's life in the car, car seats should never be used as cribs or sleeping devices outside of your automobile. Here's why.

According to a new study in the journal Pediatrics, when a baby is sitting in an upright position in a car seat, the seat can compress his chest wall so that he doesn't get enough oxygen. When a car seat is properly installed in a car, the baby is seated at an angle, but if the car seat is sitting on a floor, the baby is not at the correct angle, and that could prove to be very dangerous. T Bernard Kinane, M.D., the lead researcher on the study, says that breathing problems will occur in about 20 percent of newborns. The study was done on infants who were two days old.

Thus, when it comes to installing your newborn's car seat, doing so at the proper angle is crucial. Each car-seat manufacturer specifies the correct reclining angle for their seat. As long as you install the seat at the right angle, your baby should be in a good breathing position. In general, an infant car seat should sit at a 45-degree angle to prevent the baby from slumping and to keep his airway open.

Be sure to read your car seat owner's manual to get the proper angle information and, as tempting as it is to let your baby sleep in the car seat outside of the car, don't do it. Until car seat are redesigned—the researchers recommend new buckles and a new back—they should be used only for traveling in cars.

If you're not sure if your car seat is installed correctly, take it by your local fire or police station and have them take a look.

Do you let your baby sleep in his car seat outside of the car?

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