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Early years

14th Jan 2020

Research say that babies should only sleep in car seats when travelling

Trine Jensen-Burke

When in the car, a car seat is obviously the safest place for a child to be.

However, a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study is now telling parents to only let their babies sleep there when actually travelling in the car.

In fact, according to their research, the AAP says that an alarming number of infants who die in sitting devices were in car seats that were being improperly used.

“Using CSSs (car safety seats) for sleep in nontraveling contexts may pose a risk to the infant,” the study warned.

The study’s lead author, pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, explains:

““It really appeared that the deaths in these car seats occurred in the context where the car seat wasn’t being used for its purpose in transporting a child, but instead it was being used as a substitute for a crib or bassinet,” Colvin said to Today.

“A car seat is not a sleeping device. They are not as safe as a crib or bassinet when the child is out of the car and sleeping … There’s a lack of awareness (about this),” he continued. “I think every parent, including myself, has been guilty of doing this at one time or another.”

Which means that the thing that many parents do – bring their sleeping baby in while still strapped into their car seats and let them slumber – could be potentially dangerous.

The AAP used data gathered over 10 years and found that while only 3% of infant sleep-related deaths occurred in sitting devices, a large percentage of those fatalities – 62.9% – occurred while the infant was in a car seat. Out of those cases, the car seat was being used improperly over 90 percent of the time.

The AAP study also indicated that the car seat fatalities occurred less often while children were with their parents. “Compared with other deaths, deaths in sitting devices had higher odds of occurring under the supervision of a child care provider or babysitter compared with a parent,” it read.

But before there is widespread panic every time a child falls asleep in a car seat, Colvin stresses that parents should “absolutely not” be concerned if their baby takes a nap in their car seat while on a drive.

“The car seat is where infants should be always when they’re traveling and it’s the absolute safest place for that infant to be, whether they are awake or asleep,” he said. “But you just have to remember that car seats are for cars and when you get out of the car, the safest thing to do if your infant is still sleeping would be to put them in a bassinet or a crib.”