Baby car seats save lives. You don't have to be an expert in car seat law to know it makes sense for a baby to be properly protected when travelling.
However, in recent years, there has been something of a backlash against keeping babies in car seats for overly long periods.
First of all there was the concern that when car seats were outside the car, as a pram-top seat which clicked into travel systems or used as a baby rocker in the home, the baby's posture wasn't being encouraged to improve. As a result, more buggies now have fully reclining seats to be useful from birth as a cross between a pushchair and a pram.
Secondly, there was concern than on long car journeys, the car seat kept a new baby in one position for too long, and as a result, there are now some car seats which can be fitted to allow a newborn to be safely strapped in whilst lying completely flat.
Now researchers in New Zealand are raising the issue of babies sleeping in car seats where their heads loll forward and affect the ease of breathing.
Researchers who were investigating nine different cases where babies were rushed in for emergency attention to the Auckland Cot Monitoring Service, found that they had appeared 'blue' or 'scrunched up'. Over an 18 month period, nine different babies (in their first six months of life), were seen, and when researchers analysed their sleeping position at the time of the incidents, they found that each had been asleep with their heads tilted forward, in car seats.
Many parents leave their babies sleep in car seats, either in the car or when they are at home. Indeed, as the movement of a car is sometimes what it takes to get a new baby off to sleep, they can be a godsend. However, the optimum position for a baby to sleep, is on his back in a safe, clean and pillow-free cot. Researchers have stressed the importance of being vigilant when a baby is asleep in this position, just to check he is not getting into difficulty breathing.
Be safe but also practical
Parents should not immediately panic that their baby should never sleep in his car seat.
It has been noted that the study looked at just nine babies, and that half of the mothers smoked (parents who smoke increase the risk of 'cot death' or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, none of the babies suffered any further breathing problems or other health issues in the follow 12 months.
As with many of such situations, parents are just reminded to be more awarre of how their baby is doing, when asleep in such a position.
For further information check www.sids.org.uk.