Study Warns Against Letting Babies Sleep in Car Seats

baby sleeping in car seatThey're made to transport baby, but car seats have evolved into a makeshift nap area for snoozing babies. Many parents can agree that after the baby has fallen asleep in their car seat, it becomes much easier to let them nap there rather than move them into their crib. But the Journal of Pediatrics is encouraging parents to kick that habit and warns against letting kids sleep in car seats as well as slings, swings, bouncers, and strollers.


According to the study from the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, the leading cause of death in babies up to 1-year-old is sleep-related. And their new study shows that the incorrect use of car seats, strollers, and toys like swings and bouncers, can lead to death.

After analyzing 47 death reports that were associated with these devices, they found that the leading reason for death was asphyxiaa.  More than two-thirds of these cases involved car seats -- mostly used outside of the car. According to their findings, the straps that help hold the baby in while they're in the car can actually lead to tragic results outside of the vehicle. In fact, the reserachers concluded, "Car seats should not be used as sleeping areas outside of the vehicle, and children should never be in a car seat with unbuckled or partially buckled straps."

The rest of the deaths happened in the other types or carrying and sitting devices -- slings, swings, bouncers, and strollers -- and researchers were able to determine that it can take as little as four minutes for the deaths to occur.

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The biggest alternative is to supervise baby, and move him or her from their device for nap time. They should sleep in their cribs, on their back, on a firm mattress, and without any loose bedding or toys.

Dr. Erich Batra, the study's author, and his team of researchers, recommend the following tips to parents who are using these devices:

  1. Do not leave children unsupervised (awake or asleep);
  2. Never leave children in a car seat with unbuckled or partially buckled straps;
  3. Car seats should never be placed on a soft or unstable surface;
  4. Infants in bouncers, strollers, and swings may be able to maneuver into positions that could compromise their airway; straps on these devices may not prevent infants from getting into hazardous situations;
  5. Ensure that infants cannot twist their heads into soft bedding or slump forward in a seat; restraints should be used according to manufacturer’s instructions;
  6. Slings are particularly hazardous because of their design and the ease with which an infant’s airway can be collapsed. If used, the infant’s face should be “visible and kissable” at all times; and
  7. Do not place more than one infant together in a swing meant for one infant.

Remembering to follow the instructions that accompany the devices, and following the protocol of experts is the best way to ensure that baby's nap time remains peaceful and safe. 

And consider this bit of good news for moms -- the study showed car seats used properly inside a car are usually safe for sleeping babies, noting, "The problem occurs when car seats are used as sleeping devices in the home."

Do you let your baby sleep in their car seat?


Image via herjua/shutterstock

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