In the May 2019 issue of Pediatrics Journal, authors reported data revealing that car seats should not be used as a sitting or sleeping device outside of the car for infants. They studied data from the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention from 2004-2014 and discovered that when death occurs for infants sleeping in sitting devices (car seats, strollers, bouncers, swings, etc.), 62.9 percent of these cases happened while the baby was sleeping in a car seat. In contrast, less than 10 percent of these car seat deaths occurred when the car seat was being used as directed. Another interesting result revealed that more than half of the car seat deaths happened inside the home.
In an interview with Today (published May 20, 2019), Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, lead author of the study and a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, said “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, but they aren’t as safe as a crib or bassinet when the child is out of the car and sleeping … There’s a lack of awareness (about this). I think every parent, including myself, has been guilty of doing this at one time or another.”
“It’s not completely clear why car seats aren’t the best place when the child is out of the car and sleeping. A crib or bassinet may be safer because it’s flat rather than angled like a car seat, plus there aren’t any straps or side padding that could potentially serve as a strangulation or suffocation risk”
Colvin added that parents should “absolutely not” be worried if they see their baby slumbering in a car seat during a drive.
“The car seat is where infants should be always when they’re traveling and it’s the absolute safest place for that infant to be, whether they are awake or asleep, but you just have to remember that car seats are for cars and when you get out of the car, the safest thing to do if your infant is still sleeping, would be to put them in a bassinet or a crib.”