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Pediatricians Warn Against Letting Babies Sleep in Car Seats
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  • With the car seat law being enacted recently in the country, many parents argue that mandating the use of car seats and booster seats for all children ages 12 and younger could be a burden. Car seats are not exactly cheap, more so the models that last from infancy to childhood.

    If you're thinking of saving some bucks by using a car seat as a bassinet or a crib, where your child can stay and sleep even when you're not in a vehicle, you are putting your baby at serious risk, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a recent statement.

    The recommendation to not use car seats when not in a vehicle stems from a large study published on the AAP's journal Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed 11,779 sleep-related deaths of infants younger than age 1 between 2004 and 2014, using data from the U.S. National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention.

    The study found that 219 (63 percent) of the 348 babies who died while sleeping in sitting devices happened in car seats. (Thirty-five percent was due to bouncers and swings, while two percent happened in strollers.) About 90 percent of the time, it happened when the car seat was not being used as intended. More than half of the deaths occurred at home, often with the parent or caregiver not paying attention.

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    "It really appeared that the deaths in these car seats occurred in the context where the car seat wasn’t being used for its purpose in transporting a child, but instead it was being used as a substitute for a crib or bassinet," study lead author and pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Colvin told Today.


    When used correctly, car seats are designed to be the safest seat for your baby when traveling in a vehicle. "They aren't as safe as a crib or bassinet when the child is out of the car and sleeping," Colvin stressed. "I think every parent, including myself, has been guilty of doing this at one time or another," he added emphasizing on spreading awareness about the risk.

    Without supervision and using a car seat out of its original purpose can flip or fall from whatever surface it was set on, and the straps could strangle or suffocate an infant. Car seats are designed to be mounted in vehicles, so it's not as sturdy as many people think it would be when placed on a flat surface.

    "While car seats are always the best place for babies when they are being transported in a vehicle, that doesn't mean they are the safest place when they're sleeping outside of the car," Colvin said. Unless your car seat model is designed to double as a bassinet or a car stroller seat, don't just leave your baby sleeping on a car seat that's not in a vehicle unattended.

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    About 3,700 infants in the U.S. die every year from sleep-related deaths, which include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and other causes. A 2015 study also published in Pediatrics already set a precedent that babies "sitting devices" like car seats, swings and strollers could lead to injury and even death if babies are allowed to sleep in them.

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    The 47 deaths of babies under age 2 that the researchers looked into showed that a baby could die in just four minutes of being left sleeping unsupervised in a sitting device either by asphyxiation, either strangled by the straps, or they couldn't breathe by the way their bodies were positioned, or strangulation.

    Lead study author and pediatrician Dr. Erich K. Batra stressed: "When the baby is asleep, and you don’t have eyes on the baby, they should be ‘ABC’”, meaning when they are Alone, they should be on their Backs and in a Crib." The AAP recommends that babies be put to sleep on their backs on a safe sleeping area without any loose beddings, pillows, or stuffed toys until they reach age 1. Sitting devices should not be used for routine sleep.

    We know how much you want to trim down baby expenses, but often, the high cost of these child safety essentials and abiding by the safety laws set for kids is a worthy investment to secure your child''s life.

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