B.C. Tragedy Highlights Why Babies Shouldn’t Sleep In Their Car Seats

by in Austin Point, Car Seat Safety, Infant Car Seat Safety

A tragedy in British Columbia has reinforced why parents shouldn’t let they babies sleep in their car seats for extended periods.

A 10-month-old baby boy died at his home Sunday after he stopped breathing while sleeping in a car seat.

The baby was being looked after by his aunt and uncle when the couple realized that they didn’t have any more cribs for him to sleep in. They have three children of their own, two sons (7 and 3 months) and a daughter, 1.

At that point they called his mom to come pick him up, but she was unavailable. She phoned later on that night and said she left more diapers outside the door and that she would see them in the morning.

After having a had a hard time calming him down, they let him sleep in his infant car seat.

Austin Point, the uncle, said that everyone finally went to sleep, but when they woke the baby wasn’t breathing. A study we posted a few years ago found that the upright sleeping position puts infants at risk of obstructing their airways, which could endanger their lives.

They looked at nine infants who suffered ‘life threatening events’ while strapped into a car seat where they were left asleep outside the car.

The children were described as “blue”, “scrunched up” and “not breathing”.

Reconstruction of the events using the baby’s own car seat found their heads were bent forward with the jaw pressed down on the chest, which narrowed the airway and caused breathing problems.

Paediatrician Professor Alistair Gunn, who did the study with colleagues at the Auckland Cot Monitoring Service, said car safety seats were essential to protect children from injury or death in an accident.

But they were not meant to be used as a substitute for a cot or bed when the children were not being transported around, he said.


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About the Author

SAHM of 2 boys and founder of GrowingYourBaby.com, World Traveled Family and The World We Share. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

Comments (3)

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  1. Andrea says:

    Yikes. . .my son slept a lot in his carseat until five months old. He always fell asleep in the car and I hated to move him/wake him up when we arrived home, so he’d continue his nap in the carseat near me at our house and was always so content. Same thing for when we were out in public. He preferred his carseat to anything else (even me holding him) and slept the best there until he got larger & mobile — then he wanted room to roll, as well as by then he was too alert to sleep when there was “action” going on. But in the beginning, I could carry him around my house in it and he’d watch me do chores until he’d drift off to sleep. I’ve never had any problems getting my son to sleep and I’ve always said it was because of those early months of him never crying at bedtime because he was always relaxed in the carseat. The best way to get him to stop crying was to just place him in there — it was immediate. . .I never would have thought it was dangerous!

  2. ConcernedMom says:

    This is outrageous, the second death like this within 10 days, the other in Montreal. If these seats are not safe for children to sleep in and let’s face it it is easier to leave them there then move them out, then let’s fix the problem, these seats can be just as effective flat horizontal then the awkward angled seat. Who do we lobby to start making the change, we can’t be forced to use something that isn’t effective to keep our children safe without accidents. What happens on a long trip we need to keep our child safe by staying awake for the full 3 to 6 hours? Let’s make child seats effective, safe and make sense for the safety of the child in and out of the car. I am afraid to have my son unattendend in the back seat of the car, he is too young to have the strong neck muscles to prevent his head from flopping over, I need someone at the back to keep his head against the back of the seat. Crazy way to keep him safe and for us to have peace of mind in the car.

  3. ChildCareProvider and Researcher says:

    ConcernedMom, your concerns are valid but your “facts” are incorrect. It is not “just as effective flat and horizontal” it makes it entirely too easy for the child to slide out of the seat during a high-impact crash. Even with the angle they have now, children are still at risk to slide out of the seat unless the straps are properly tightened. How many of you knew your child was to have no more than one finger to fit between the straps and the child’s chest/belly? Probably not many.. Read up on these things a little more and you’ll become more relaxed, freak accidents happen with everything.. even the “Safest” things in the world are not safe 100% of the time. Nothing is perfect–ever.

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