Study Warns Against Leaving Babies in Car Seats (and other sitting devices) Can Be Deadly

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that leaving infants in car seats, swings, bouncers and strollers for naps may put their lives in unnecessary danger. When parents place their babies in these sitting devices to sleep, the babies are not being monitored for an extended period of time. Based on a study of 47 cases in which babies 2 or younger died while in a device meant for sitting, majority of the deaths were due to strangulation by a strap or the baby was in a position in which their body could not get enough air to breath. The time that elapsed for the babies left alone was anywhere from 4 minutes to 11 hours. Two thirds of these cases involved car seats while the remaining involved babies in slings, bouncers, swings and strollers. Dr. Erich Batra of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center led the study stated “When the baby is asleep, and you don’t have eyes on the baby, they should be ‘ABC,'” meaning they should be alone, on their backs, and in a crib.”

The authors offer the following advice to parents when using infant sitting or carrying devices:

(1) Do not leave children unsupervised (awake or asleep);
(2) Never leave children in a car seat with unbuckled or partially buckled straps;
(3) Car seats should never be placed on a soft or unstable surface;
(4) Infants in bouncers, strollers, and swings may be able to maneuver into positions that could compromise their airway; straps on these devices may not prevent infants from getting into hazardous situations;
(5) Ensure that infants cannot twist their heads into soft bedding or slump forward in a seat; restraints should be used according to manufacturer’s instructions;
(6) Slings are particularly hazardous because of their design and the ease with which an infant’s airway can be collapsed. If used, the infant’s face should be “visible and kissable” at all times; and
(7) Do not place more than one infant together in a swing meant for one infant.