New research shows risks posed by leaving infants to sleep in car seats

Newly-released research in the US medical journal, Paediatrics, has shown that allowing babies to sleep in child car seats and capsules in contexts other than usual travel exposes infants to an increased risk of sudden death.

Dad taking baby out of car restraint

Analysing 2004–2014 US National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention data, the researchers found that of 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths during this period, 348 occurred in sitting devices, and of those 348, 62.9 % occurred in a child car seat.

Further, more than half (51.6%) of the deaths that occurred in car safety restraints happened at the child’s home.

These concerning statistics confirm Red Nose’s advice that letting your baby sleep in a car seat, capsule or other sitting device any longer than is necessary for travel is a potential risk for your baby’s safety.

So this Child Safety Week we’re reminding parents that car seats are only designed to be used in the car.

That’s because leaving babies in a curved position for a long period of time, as is the case in a car restraint, means your baby’s neck is flexed forward, putting them in a ‘chin to chest’ position. This can block your baby’s airway and lead to an increased risk of SIDS.

When you use a car seat outside of the car, there’s also a risk your child could fall out or get trapped in the device.

When your baby does need to spend a prolonged period of time in their car seat – for example when travelling for long distances – we recommend taking frequent breaks where you take baby out of the car seat at regular intervals.

For Safe Sleeping and Safer Pregnancy information call 1300 998 698 (business hours) or visit our online advice hub.

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