Tragic death of baby sleeping in car seat sparks safety warnings 7 years ago

Tragic death of baby sleeping in car seat sparks safety warnings

The importance of safety when it comes to babies and car seats are being highlighted this week after news broke about the death of a baby who passed away while sleeping in one.

11-week-old Shepard Dodd from Oklahoma in the US tragically died after his childminder let the infant sleep in a car seat placed in the floor instead of in a cot or bed.

Shepard's parents, Ali and Derek, had dropped their young son in with his childminder, only to get the devastating call about what had happened to him a few hours later. According to the police report, the 11-week-old had been put to sleep in the unbuckled seat and placed on the floor in a room, unsupervised. When the childminder returned to check on Shepard, he wasn’t breathing.

The ‘positional asphyxia’ believe to have caused Shepard's death occurs when a baby slouches down in a car seat or infant rocker and their airway closes.

Newborns and young infants don’t have the neck strength to lift their heads enough to breathe.

This, according to bereaved father, was despite the fact that the minder in question had been spoken to about the dangers of this just days before little Shepard's death in April this year.


Since the tragedy, the devastated parents have been campaigning through the Facebook site Shepard’s Watch to highlight the dangers of letting babies sleep in car seats. Speaking to a local news channel, Ali, who wants car seat manufacturers to display clear warning signs about the dangers of using car seats for sleeping in - explained why she is trying to spread the sleep safe message across the world.

“We want to stress that our mission is not to put any more fear in parents about how to keep their children safe. Our mission is simply to educate them and make people aware of dangers that many of us really didn’t know about before."


The young mother, who also has son Presley, five, explains that when a car seat is properly used, they are not dangerous.

"Car seats are intended for travel purposes only, and if a baby is frequently and properly supervised while in them, then a car seat isn’t a dangerous thing to use."

Despite studies published about the dangers of using car seats for sleeping, Ali has discovered that doctors and paediatricians still tell parents to put their baby in car seats to sleep if they have acid reflux or other similar problems.

"They are misleading and putting lives in danger every time they promote unsafe sleep practices," says Ali.

Everyone with young babies knows who difficult it can be to keep them awake when out and about in the car, but according to experts, car seat naps should be kept as short as possible, and they underline that car seats are NOT recommended for long sleep periods, as an alternative for a cot or Moses basket.

It is advised that babies spend no more than two hours in a car seat at a time, so parents are encouraged to break up long car journeys with frequent stops.

Tell us, did YOU use the car seat for naps or take long car journey when your babies were very young? Were YOU aware of these warnings, or do you think car seat manufacturers need to put a clearer safety warning on their products? Join the conversation with us on Twitter @Herfamilydotie