Using Car Seats for Naps Outside the Car is Deadly for Infants

You see your baby asleep in his or her car seat after a long ride. Instead of removing her from the seat and putting her to bed, you decide to detach the seat from the car and let her sleep it off. Sounds pretty normal, right? Unfortunately, this puts her at risk of asphyxiation and possibly death.

According to a study conducted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine (UMKC-SM), many infants have died when the child seat is used as a napping spot rather than for transportation. While sleeping in a properly installed car seat is perfectly fine, the baby is put at risk once that seat is out of the car and not in the proper position.

"Car seats are for cars, and they're not a substitute for cribs or bassinets," the study's senior author, Dr. Jeffrey D. Colvin of UMKSC-SM said.

Dr. Colvin and his fellow researchers reviewed data on 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths in the US from 2004 to 2014. According to their research, three percent of the deaths occurred in a child seat, such as a stroller, bouncer. or car safety seat. The latter accounted for two-thirds of these deaths.

The study also found that the car seats were not being used as recommended more than 90 percent of the time. Most shocking of all, a good number of these deaths occurred while the child was in the presence of a parent or guardian.

In most cases, the infants were not strapped into the seat properly. Death was also more likely to occur when a child was being supervised by a child care provider or babysitter rather than a parent.

"All parents, me included, have been guilty of taking a sleeping infant in a car seat out of the car and not wanting to risk waking them up," Colvin said. "The safest thing to do for a sleeping infant outside of a car is to place them in a bassinet or a crib, but at an absolute minimum, that infant should be directly observed and fully strapped in."

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