Can baby sleep in car seat

Can Baby Sleep in Car Seat

Can baby sleep in car seat

Can Baby Sleep in Car Seat


Car seats are designed to be only used for transport and not as a substitute for baby cots. So to address the issue ‘can baby sleep in a car seat’- it’s fine if your baby falls asleep in the car seat once in a while, but this cannot be a regular habit. Babies shouldn’t be kept in the car seat for long periods. They need to be relocated on a firm flat surface as soon as you reach your destination. When selecting a car seat for your children, it is important to consider choosing a lightweight option to ensure ease of carrying with one hand. This will allow your other hand to remain free for attending to your child’s needs. Our “Best lightweight car seat” will help you to choose the lightweight car seat for your budget!


Sleeping in Car Seat While Travelling


Babies, depending on their age sleep more than they are awake. Although their sleeping hours vary, it is an average of 8 hours to 16 or 18 hours. Inevitably, babies fall asleep in the car while traveling. But how long can babies sleep in a car seat? Babies shouldn’t be allowed to sleep for more than 2 hours on a car seat, in a 24-hour day period. If you are on a long day trip with your baby, you should take frequent breaks. Take your baby out of the car seat every few hours to allow room for her to stretch and relax.

More reasons why babies shouldn’t be allowed to rest in car seats for longer than 2 hours are:

  • Harmful For Spines

Car seats are a crucial part of child passenger safety. Babies are delicate and their spine is still developing. The infant car seat has been extensively tested, and its design solely focuses on protecting the baby’s head and spine during a collision. However, being left in a car seat for a long time can put a strain on the baby’s spine.


  • Car Seats are Meant to Be Used Under Supervision

The second reason to not put your baby in car seats for extended periods – even if you can relocate the car seat and lock it into a stroller, is that car seats are supposed to be used under supervision. Parents should observe their babies even when they are strapped to a car seat, and therefore not leave them to it overnight.


  • Restricts Breathing

Infant car seats come with a five-point system for extra safety, proper protection, and positioning. Infants don’t have the strength and reflex to hold their heads straight and not slouch.


Young babies may experience breathing problems if they are kept in a sitting position for a long time. Being strapped to a car seat for a prolonged period restricts airflow in the baby’s lungs. Especially if the baby is asleep with her head flopped forward, which is very common in children because their reflex to hold their head up straight is not developed yet.

Risk of sleeping in car seats


Sleep influences respiratory psychology; body position alters sleep states. Our intercostal muscles work together to limit expiration and maintain lung volume. These muscles are relaxed during active (Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, for short) sleep. The oxygen level saturations are lower than normal in infants during REM sleep. Low oxygen saturation levels in sleeping babies inside car seats are concerning.

Moreover, babies strapped to a car seat are in slouching position, with their head flopped forward while there is sleeping. This causes airway obstruction. Even mild airway obstruction has been seen to be associated with behavior problems and IQ deficits. Worryingly, a review conducted in pediatric autopsy concluded that several deaths that occurred in infant car seats were partly due to airway obstruction.

Car seats are best for child passenger safety but their uses should be strictly limited to traveling only. Babies please in such careers for prolonged periods are always at an increased risk for recurrent hypoxic events. Car safety seats are very important to transport devices for children of all ages. However, even for healthy infants, the risk associated with using such devices include apnea, hypopnea, and oxygen desaturation; which may occur during the prolonged placement of babies in these devices. Therefore the usage of the devices should be restricted to protecting your baby from injury and death in travel events.

Car seats and car beds must not be used as an alternative or replacement for a crib or a sleeping space for a baby. In addition, studies find that respiratory compromise in children has been documented in current models of car seats. This calls for modification and adjustments in car seats to minimize any kind of respiratory compromise.

Conclusively speaking, the risk of respiratory issues in babies increases if the car seat if you keep your baby in the car seat for longer than 2 hours. Once you reach your stop, and your child is still asleep, the best thing you can do is take your child from the car seat and let him or her sleep on a safe, comfortably firm surface; this may include a crib, bassinet, or the best yet- a cot or bed.


Using Car Seat Safely


As a parent, it is important that you note- car seats are designed to be used under adult supervision. Even if you are certain that your baby is strapped into a car seat perfectly and is safe, you still need to monitor the baby. This is particularly important during long drives implying that car seats are not meant to be used as a primary sleeping space and are only safe for traveling.


Car seats are inclined to a position that protects the baby’s head and spine during a collision; that position is not safe to be in for a prolonged period and certainly not safe for sleeping. Neither a car seat nor any other incline sleeper is a good alternative for a crib or cot and should not be used as a primary sleeping place for your baby.

Car Seat Sleeping Safety Tips


Install the car seats properly

Infant car seats are rear-facing and should be installed at an angle that is 30° to 45 °, depending on the design of the car seat. Infant car seats can recline up to the maximum 45-degree mark.

You will want to install the car seat, following your car seat’s manual, and set it at the maximum allowable recline, until your baby gets a grip of his head and neck control. The same goes for convertibles and booster seats. Recline at the maximum allowable angle. Although older babies are less delicate and have better balance and control of their full head neck and torso, they can safely sit up properly, it’s okay if you don’t reach the greatest recline.

Remember the two-hour rule

 Little bodies, whether awake or asleep are not created in such a way that they can spend prolonged periods in a restricted seated position of a car seat. Car seats work the best protection a baby during a crash, unfortunately, it is not a very sweet spot to put your baby while asleep for a long time.

Remember that 2-hour rule; it is not safe and permissible to keep your baby in the car seat, in half upright position for more than 2 hours. This harms the developing bones, spine, and other muscles of the baby and can lead to positional asphyxiation.

 Look out for ‘sleep tools’

A lot of the time car seat comes with ‘sleep tools’. These are mostly unregulated, untested, and unsafe. Contrary to its title, these are extremely dangerous and parents should consciously refrain from using these.

 Relocate your baby as soon as possible

You should always remember that even if your baby falls asleep in the car it is not a safe sleeping space. You should transfer your baby to a crib, cot, or bassinet as soon as you reach your destination.

Dress your baby up well and safely.

Cars and moving vehicles attract heat and get hot very fast. This may easily cause your baby to overheat and eventually become dehydrated. Make sure your baby is not wearing too many layers. You can cover your child with a light blanket when she is sleeping or resting on the car seat. Constantly monitor the baby to ensure she is not getting too hot or feeling any sort of discomfort.


How long can a baby sleep in a car seat?

A baby can sleep in a car seat for a maximum of 2 hours.


Is it safe to let my baby sleep in the car seat?

It is okay for babies to sleep in car seats while traveling, however, while they are asleep, they should be under constant supervision and relocated after 2 hours.


What to do if my baby falls asleep in the car seat?

It is moderately safe for your baby to fall asleep in a car seat while driving. But you should try and keep them awake, perhaps by distracting them with toys, playing soft music, or having the windows rolled down


Final Thoughts

The purpose and usage of a car seat should strictly be limited to a car or a moving vehicle. Babies cannot be left unattended in a car seat and shouldn’t be used as a sleeping place. This also includes using a car seat inside a stroller.

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