New study shows risk of letting babies sleep in car seats at home

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parents use car seats to protect kids when traveling, but pediatricians warn it’s not safe for your baby to routinely sleep in one at home as an alternative for a crib.

“If it’s during travel time, that is OK. However, once you get home, they need to taken out of the car seat and put in their own crib alone and on their back,” explains Pediatrician Shirlene Samuel of Austin Regional Clinic.

Dr. Samuel says she was surprised to learn how many babies are dying in car seats at home. In a recent study, The American Academy of Pediatrics analyzed 11,779 sleep-related infant deaths from 2004 to 2014. It found 348 children, or 3%, died while sleeping in sitting devices.

Of those cases, a vast majority (63%) happened in car seats, 35% happened in bouncers and swings and 2% happened in strollers.

“Even though it sounds like a small percentage, we are talking about death of infants. So even that number is staggering to think about,” Dr. Samuel says.

In the cases when a baby died in a car seat, the study found a majority of those deaths happened at home, not in a car, suggesting parents are using the device as an alternative to a crib.

Dr. Samuel says more education is needed to help parents understand safe sleep habits for babies should not only be practiced at night but during the day as well.

“Nap time is a big part where we don’t really think of safe sleep practices. We need to make sure anytime baby’s asleep, they are on a safe sleep surface,” Dr. Samuel says.

Dr. Samuel says a safe sleep surface is flat, like a crib, not a car seat or stroller.

“Anytime a baby is leaning forward or at an incline, we call that unsafe sleep practices. It compromises their airway because they don’t have great head control and that increase the risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome,” Dr. Samuels says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following guidelines to keep a safe sleeping environment for babies :

  • Your baby should always sleep alone
  • Your baby should always sleep on their back
  • Your baby should should always sleep in their crib

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