Community Programs Coordinator, REMSA
It’s a common cliché: let sleeping babies lie… In today’s fast-paced society, it may be tempting for parents to leave a sleeping infant in a car seat after a busy day of errands, or to leave a sleeping infant in a swing. However, doing either of these things may pose unnecessary risk to the sleeping infant.
Leaving a sleeping infant in a car seat or swing (both sitting devices) create unsafe sleep conditions for the infant, increasing the risk for Sudden Infant Death and positional asphyxia–suffocation caused by improper body positioning such that it compromises airflow. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an infant safe sleep environment include: a safety-approved crib, bassinette and/or Pack-N-Play; an appropriately fitting mattress; a fitted crib sheet; and that the sleep area remains uncluttered of toys, stuffed animals, and blankets or bumpers.
With the frequent use of infant swings, car seats, bouncy seats, and infant carriers, it is not uncommon for infants to fall asleep in one or more of these devices. Car seats, swings, and bouncers are quick and convenient ways to feed, hold, and sleep an infant. Not out of malice or discontent, but again from the need for quick and easy access to baby care in an already busy lifestyle.
We do not suggest that every time your baby falls asleep in the car seat, that you turn around and go home. As soon as an appropriate sleep environment is accessible, place the infant in that sleep environment. Slightly waking your baby to transfer him or her from the car seat or other sitting device to crib or bassinet is preferable. Only use sitting devices as sleep options when the infant is monitored and under constant supervision.
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued alerts regarding the strangulation hazard for infants and young children in strollers, bouncy seats, and similar equipment when the infant gets caught in the straps or slips into positions that trap him or her against hard parts of these devices.