Safe Sleep in Car Seats
Inclined sleep products are proven unsafe for your baby. On October 31, 2019 The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues a warning to parents and caregivers about the dangers of popular inclined sleep products for infants. The CPSC is basing this warning on a scientific study they conducted. This study is part of a growing body of evidence showing that inclined sleepers do not provide a safe sleep environment for infants.
Study Data on Safe Sleep in Inclined Sleep Products
The CPSC received reports of 1,108 incidents, including 73 infant deaths, related to infant inclined sleep products. These incidents and deaths occurred from January 2005 through June 2019. CPSC hired independent expert Erin Mannen, Ph.D., a mechanical engineer specializing in biomechanics, to conduct the testing. Dr. Mannen measured infants’ muscle movements and oxygen saturation while in various products and positions. These products include a flat crib, an inclined crib, and several inclined sleep products. Dr. Mannen’s findings reveal none of the inclined sleep products her team tested are safe for infant sleep. Dr. Mannen’s report is conclusive that products with inclines 10 degrees or less, with flat and rigid surfaces, are likely safe for infant sleep. Dr. Mannen’s findings also reveal soft and plush-like sleep surfaces pose dangers to infants.
It is not surprising that Dr. Mannen’s study concludes infants should be placed to sleep on a firm, flat surface in a crib or bassinet.
Car Seats and Safe Sleep
So, what is the American of Pediatrics’ (AAP) take on infant car seats? Infant car seats puts infants in an inclined position. We all know infants fall asleep in the car.
The AAP advises against letting babies sleep in car seats, strollers and other sitting devices. In a recent article published in Reuters Health, Dr. Jeffrey D. Colvin of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine told Reuters Health. “Car seats are for cars, and they’re not a substitute for cribs or bassinets,” Most infant deaths in car-safety seats happen when the seat is being used as a napping spot, rather than for transportation.
Ben Hoffman, M.D., chairman of the AAP’s Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee, agrees. “All the data that we have on car seats indicate that there aren’t risks associated with babies sleeping in the car for short periods of time when they’re properly restrained in a car seat that’s been installed with appropriate positioning.”
Car Seat Safe Sleep Data
Colvin and his colleagues reviewed U.S. data on 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths in 2004-2014, of which three percent took place in a sitting device, such as a car seat, stroller or bouncer. Car safety seats accounted for nearly two-thirds of these deaths, and when the sitting devices are being used as directed, less than 10 percent of the time.
According to the study, most deaths occur while a child is at home or at a friend or relative’s home, and while a child is being supervised by a parent or guardian. Deaths in sitting devices are almost three times more likely to occur when a child is being supervised by a child-care provider rather than a parent and are twice as likely when a babysitter is watching the child.
In many cases, infants are not strapped into the seat properly, Colvin notes. “What we are seeing a lot as well, is the infant is being placed in the car seat in the house for hours and hours, and the parent who is supposed to be supervising the child goes to sleep.”
Car Seats are Not For Sleep
Because car seats are safety devices, and the safest place for babies to be while in a car, parents and caregivers may mistakenly believe that the seats are safe for sleep too. Low-income families are often forced to let their child sleep in a car seat because they can’t afford a crib or a bassinet at home.
“All parents, including me, 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.”
Safe Sleep for Infants
The AAP continues to emphasize that the best place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet or play yard. Parents and caregivers should never add blankets, pillows or other items to an infant’s sleeping environment. Babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs.
According to the AAP;s 2016 Safe Sleep Technical report, air permeable surface may be preferable to air impermeable surfaces for infants who roll. There are many safety features of a completely “breathe-through” crib mattress that the AAP recognizes as safe sleep for babies.
You can check www.cpsc.gov often to see if your nursery products have been recalled. If your product has been recalled, promptly follow the recall instructions to receive a refund, replacement, or repair. Consumers who register their nursery products with the manufacturer’s registration card (included with nursery items) can be contacted directly by the manufacturer if there is a recall.