Car seat safety: Never leave your child sleeping in a car seat

Car seat safety: Never leave your child sleeping in a car seat

Last update: 21 January, 2019

A baby’s car seat is one of the most important and indispensable baby products you can own. It’s not only something the law demands during travel and a safeguard for your child’s well-being; it also has the capacity to save your little one’s life.

However, recent studies bring into question the safety of allowing children to remain sleeping in their car seats. At the same time, they advise caution regarding the use of winter jackets when placing your baby in these seats.

By no means should you stop placing your baby in a car seat while travelling. No one questions the effectiveness of car seats when used properly. However, car seats are no longer seen as a proper place to lay your child down to sleep.

We know that most mothers who read this have probably done this, and might be alarmed. But this is a problem that can be solved.

We all know that the car seat’s straps will keep your baby from moving around during your journey. And of course, the straps also provide security, helping to avoid injury in the case of an accident. But the car seat doesn’t watch over your baby. You cannot simply place your child in a car seat and leave him or her unattended.

When you place your child in his car seat while you are travelling, you must keep an eye on him. You need to be sure your child is comfortable, that his diaper is dry, that he isn’t hungry, and that he doesn’t get car sick. And we all know that car rides tend to make children sleep – especially long car rides.

girl sitting in a car seat

How can I keep my child from falling asleep in the car seat?

No mother expects her child to remain awake during a long car ride. The most common and wisest thing to do is allow your child to take a short nap to make the time go by faster and keep her from getting bored.

So of course, it’s practically impossible to keep your child from falling asleep in the car, not to mention inconceivable and unfair. However, your little one’s safety must come first.

Experts warn that the position in which your baby is seated plays a tremendous role in whether or not she is at risk. And of course, if a child were left unattended in her carseat without the supervision of an adult, she could easily lean over enough to block her own airways. 

Every specialist agrees that a safe car seat must be used whenever travelling with little ones. In fact, they insist that car seats must be used even during the shortest of car rides. However, danger arises when a child is left sleeping unattended in a carseat in an inadequate position. 
One particular study, carried out by British scientists, revealed that there is a direct risk of suffocation when children are left sleeping in their car seats. But this scenario is 100% preventable if an adult remains close-by and attentive to the child’s position while in the car seat, making sure that baby is always breathing easily.

car seat safety tips for parents

Sometimes, as parents, we get used to letting our children sleep in their car seats even when we are in the comfort of own homes. This is also a mistake. Sometimes we simply disconnect the car seat and bring it inside the house in order to let our child continue sleeping.

However, in a study of 40 cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), experts found that almost 23% of the children were buckled into their car seats when symptoms occurred. 

In the study, 8 of the 9 children who experienced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while in their car seats had fallen asleep while travelling. These babies had begun to suffocate while in an inclined or semi-erect position, and their symptoms included lack of breathing, weakness of the muscles, and a bluish skin tone.

We want to clarify that, although the babies presented the symptoms of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, they responded positively to the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques performed at the medical center where the investigation took place. Just the same, it’s important to note that the study focused on real life cases of emergency. Therefore, the consequences of these episodes could not be measured completely.


  • It is important to observe your child at all times to make sure he or she does not hunch forward. It is especially important to make sure his jaw is not touching his chest.
  • Avoid keeping your child in the car seat for extended periods of time. This means that you should take your child out of the car seat once you arrive at your destination. At this point, you should take your baby out, allowing him or her to be in a safer position.
  • Experts recommend that, in the case of longer car rides, you should stop regularly in order to give your child a break from the car seat.
  • Your should never leave your child unattended in a car safety seat.
  • In the event that a child presents respiratory problems, you should pat your child’s back lightly and shake him gently in order to resuscitate him. If necessary, take your child to the nearest emergency room.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.