Are parents putting their newborns at risk by using car seats?

Are newborns at risk in car seats?

You’ve strapped them in, secured the belt and faced the car seat away from the airbag. But could your newborn still be at risk?

According to research for Churchill, more than two thirds of new parents are not aware that – if used incorrectly – car seats have the potential to cause breathing difficulties in newborn babies.

Research by the Lullaby Trust shows that travelling with newborns in a car seat for journeys longer than 30 minutes can cause increased heartrate and lower blood oxygen.

Car seats are ‘not designed’ for sleeping babies

A poll of 2,000 adults found that only 31% are aware that car seats have the potential to be dangerous for newborns.

If travelling long distances, it’s usually recommended to stop every 30 minutes to adjust the angle of the car seat and move the position of the baby’s head.

Parents are also advised to consider their child’s clothing and to use seatbelt covers to minimise pressure on their baby while travelling.

Professor Peter Fleming, Lullaby Trust researcher, said, “Although it is very important for parents to always use an appropriate car seat for young babies on car journeys, the baby should always be taken out of the seat and placed in a suitable sleeping place such as a cot or moses basket after the journey.

“Car seats are not designed for longer periods of infant sleep. In the first four-to-six weeks after birth parents should try to avoid car journeys of more than 30 minutes for their baby, and whenever possible an adult should travel with the baby in the back seat of the car to keep a check on their position and well-being.”

Still the safest option for driving

While there are risks associated with car seats, Alex Borgnis, Head of Car Insurance at Churchill, urged parents to remember they are still the safest way for newborns to travel.

He said: “Driving with newborns is usually unavoidable and parents shouldn’t be worried every time they need to do so – after all, the safest way for a baby to travel in a car is in a car seat, and it is also required by law.

“There are some simple steps parents can take to help reduce any potential risk. Avoid driving for long distances with a newborn baby as much as you can and if you need to, remember to stop regularly and, if possible, have an adult in the back of the car to keep an eye on your baby and check it isn’t slumping forward.

“It is also important to remember not to use car seats as sleeping aids, however tempting it may be to leave a baby sleeping.”

Want to find out more about driving with children? Check out our guide on all the laws to do with carrying your bundles of joy in the car here.

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