One of the most common practices parents do is keeping their babies still in a car seat while they are asleep. That’s because they do not want to disturb their sleep. However, the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended parents to stop this common practice right away.
According to a new study that looked at factors responsible for sleep-related deaths in more than 11,770 infants, 3 percent of the deaths occurred while the babies were asleep in “sitting devices,” such as car seats, strollers and swings, and of those, 64 percent occurred in car seats. The study found that most deaths occurred when the baby was asleep when not traveling.
Lead study author Dr. Jeffrey Colvin told TODAY, “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. But they aren’t as safe as a crib or bassinet when the child is out of the car and sleeping… There’s a lack of awareness. I think every parent, including myself, has been guilty of doing this at one time or another.”
The investigators are unaware of how exactly that happens. However, Dr. Colvin thinks it could be due to the fact that a car seat puts a baby in an angled position when compared with bassinets and cribs that help a baby to lay on a completely flat surface.
A study conducted by the AAP in 2015 found that sleeping in a seat could put babies at risk of asphyxiation (suffocation). As soon as this study was published, a mother shared her heartbreaking story of losing her baby in the same way.
Dr. Colvin, however, pointed out that the current study does not mean you should be concerned if your baby falls asleep in the seat while you are riding the car. He added, “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. 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.”