Skip 
Navigation Link
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Resources
Basic Information
Infant Development: How Your Baby Grows and MaturesInfant Parenting: Keeping Your Baby Healthy and HappyInfant Safety: Keeping Your Baby SafeInfant Enrichment: Stimulating Your Baby
More InformationLatest News
Health Tip: Baby's First ToothBreast Milk Combats Growth of Bad BacteriaHealth Tip: Addressing Your Child's Biting HabitPaid Family Leave Helps Keep Babies' Vaccines on Track: StudyMaking the Most of Your Baby's First 3 YearsC-Section Delivery Might Alter Newborn's 'Microbiome'New Healthy Drinks Guidelines for Kids: Skip the Soy, Avoid SugarsTreatment for Very-Preterm Infants May Lead to Antibiotic ResistanceSecrets to Soothing a Cranky Baby SafelyKids in Hot Cars: How to Prevent Heatstroke DeathsEvery Sudden Infant Death Deserves a Closer Look: ReportHow to Protect Your Baby Against EczemaBathing a Baby Less Scary Than It SoundsVulnerable Preemie Babies Often Behind On VaccinesTwins' Deaths in Hot Car Highlight a Preventable TragedySmog Could Land Newborns in Intensive CareHow to Protect Your Baby From Unsafe ProductsExtreme Eating Habits Could Be an Early Clue to AutismTongue, Lip Snip Surgeries May Be Overused in U.S. NewbornsIn a U.S. First, Baby Is Delivered From Womb Transplanted From Deceased DonorU.S. Cases of Infant Gut Illness Plummet After Vaccine IntroducedHealth Tip: Safe Sleep For BabiesAnother Reason Breast Is Best for Fragile Preemie BabiesSwallowing Toiletries, Makeup Sends Thousands of Kids to ER Each YearCommon Infant Vaccine May Also Shield Kids From Type 1 DiabetesFew Days of Formula Feeding After Delivery Won't Harm Breastfed BabiesNursing Moms Who Eat Right Have Slimmer, Healthier BabiesInfant Pain Heightened After Opioid Exposure in WombPutting Your Child to Sleep in a Car Seat Can Be DeadlySwallowed Batteries Should Be Removed to Avoid Stomach Damage: StudyHealth Tip: Physical Milestones at Age OneWhat to Do When Your Child Throws a FitLow Birth Weight Babies a Worldwide ProblemQuieter NICUs a Good Rx for Premature BabiesHow to Soothe Baby's Teething Pain SafelyHow to Protect Your Child From ChokingNearly 700,000 Infant Rocking Sleepers Recalled Due to Infant DeathsBreast Milk Has Biggest Benefit for Preemies' Brains: StudyBabies Still Dying Due to Unsafe Sleep PracticesHealth Tip: Choosing a Car SeatHot-Car Deaths Hit Record High in 2018Newborn's 'Microbiome' Could Give Clues to Weight LaterKids' ER Visits for Swallowing Toys, Foreign Objects Have Doubled Since 1990sHealth Tip: Treating an Infant's FeverPediatricians' Group Calls for Recall of 'Rock 'n Play' Sleeper After Infant DeathsPreventing Kids' Food Allergies Starts in InfancyTen Infant Deaths Linked to Fisher-Price Rock 'N Play SleepersBaby-Led Eating: A Healthier ApproachIs That Medication Safe When Breastfeeding?Fussy Baby May Raise Mom's Risk of Depression
Links
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)

Putting Your Child to Sleep in a Car Seat Can Be Deadly

HealthDay News
by By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: May 20th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, May 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A car seat is the safest place for an infant while traveling in a car. But putting your baby to sleep in a portable car seat at home can be deadly, a new study warns.

Over a decade, nearly 12,000 babies in the United States died while sleeping -- about 3% of them while in an "infant sitting device," such as a car seat, stroller, swing or infant seat, according to the study of U.S. National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention data.

Car seats accounted for the vast majority -- 63% -- of such deaths. And 9 out of 10 car seat deaths occurred while the seat was being used as a makeshift crib outside the car.

"We were very surprised to find that less than 10% of the deaths in car seats happened when the car seat was being used in a car or other vehicle and the infant was strapped in appropriately," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, an associate professor of pediatrics at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

"Instead, we found that the most of the infant deaths in car seats happened in the child's home," he added.

The deaths fall under the umbrella of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and accidental suffocation and/or strangulation in bed.

Rather than get alarmed about car seat safety, Colvin said parents should take steps to protect their babies.

Whether baby is asleep or awake, car seats are the safest place for them when they're in the car. But once babies are outside the vehicle, they should sleep in a crib or bassinet, he said.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines say babies should sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm surface and without soft bedding. AAP specifically "discourages routine sleeping in sitting devices."

The data reviewed -- collected between 2004 and 2014 -- found that almost two-thirds of sleep-related infant deaths during that time involved improper use of a sitting device.

The 348 identified deaths occurred in babies at an average age of 2 months. More than a third (35%) involved a bouncer, swing or similar device, and 2% occurred in a stroller.

The largest number of deaths -- 219 -- involved babies sleeping in a car seat. More than half of these (52%) occurred inside the parent's home. Only 10% of the car seat deaths occurred when a seat was being used "as directed," that is, while protecting a baby in a moving vehicle, the study found.

Colvin's team did not investigate why leaving an infant in a car seat outside a vehicle increases SIDS and accidental suffocation risk.

The researchers outline their findings in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University in New York City, reviewed the findings.

While emphasizing that car seats are not designed as sleeping devices, he said researchers did not prove that improper use causes infant death.

"This study provides some suggestive evidence that improper use of car seats as a sleeping device might pose a risk for sudden unexpected infant death or sudden infant death syndrome," Li said. "But it does not prove that car seats are a contributory factor for these infant deaths, or that sleeping in a car seat is more dangerous than sleeping in a crib or bassinet for infants."

Li stressed that used properly, car seats can reduce the risk of crash deaths for babies and toddlers by more than 50%.

That said, however, he agreed that "it is sensible to educate the general public about the proper use of car seats, and warn parents and other caregivers against using car seats as a sleeping device."

More information

For information about the proper use of infant car seats, visit Consumer Reports.