Car seats are essential for keeping a baby safe during travel and it’s more than likely that you will need to take your little one on car journeys, so they must be secured in a car seat. Generally, car seats are safe and secure but it’s important for you to know when to put your baby in a car seat, how long is safe and acceptable to do so, and whether you can let your baby sleep in a car seat. This guide will provide you with the answers!
How Long Should Baby Be in a Car Seat?
The main question surrounding baby car seats is how long a baby should be in a car seat for. The dangers of a baby being in a car seat were highlighted when The Lullaby Trust funded a study that looked into the effects that a car seat has on the health and safety of a baby. The results indicated that a baby sitting upright for long periods of time in a car seat will cause a reduction in cardiac and respiratory function.
Their advice is that parents should avoid travelling in cars with pre-term and very young babies for long periods of time. Ideally, a second adult should travel in the back of the car with the baby and an unbreakable mirror should be used so the driver can keep an eye on the baby at all times.
If a baby changes its position and slumps forward, parents should immediately stop and take the baby out of the car seat.
When to Put Baby in a Car Seat
Car seats are essential when taking your baby in the car. Fitted properly, they secure your little one throughout car journeys. Always make sure that the straps are fitted properly as poorly fitted straps can result in your little one wriggling their way out and no longer being secure. Make sure that loose straps are kept out of the way and not near the neck.
Can You Let a Baby Sleep in a Car Seat?
The gentle movements of a moving car can often send a baby to sleep, and parents can be tempted to leave their baby in the seat for the duration of their sleep. However, it is strongly recommended that parents do not leave their baby in their car seat to sleep for long periods of time. Allowing your baby to sleep for the duration of a short journey is okay, as long as you keep an eye on them. When you reach your destination, it is best to take your baby out of their car seat, regardless of whether they are still sleeping or not.
How Car Seats Affect Baby Head Shapes
An additional and potential side effect of prolonged periods of time in a car seat is the risk of developing a flat spot on your baby’s head. Because babies are placed on their back whilst in a car seat, which is imperative for their safety, this means that pressure is applied to certain areas of a baby’s head. Over a prolonged period of time, this can alter the shape of your baby’s soft skull and create a flattening.
By following the advice to limit the time a baby spends in a car seat and not allowing them to stay in a car seat whilst sleeping for longer than a journey, you will also be limiting the amount of pressure exerted to your baby’s head from the car seat. This helps to prevent a flattening from developing or worsening. Read our previous post to read more about the relationship between car seats and flat head syndrome.
Although there are some safety concerns associated with babies in a car seat, parents should not be afraid to use them or take their baby in a car. Being aware of the safety concerns and taking the right precautions is all you need to do to make sure your baby is safe in their car seat!
Take a look at the rest of our blog for more advice on a variety of health and flat head syndrome related topics.