Car Seats and Carriers: No Substitute for Crib

New parents know babies can fall asleep almost anywhere. But that doesn’t mean babies should sleep anywhere. Contrary to popular belief, car seats, carriers and other sitting or carrying devices are not meant to be used as alternative sleeping environments. In fact, a recent study suggests allowing infants to sleep in these devices could put their lives at risk. 


Unfortunately, deaths have been associated with sitting or carrying devices. A study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found two-thirds of those deaths occurred in car seats. And in more than half of car seat-related deaths, babies could not breathe due to incorrectly placed straps. Other cases occurred when infants were positioned incorrectly in the device, restricting their airways. 

Strollers, slings, bouncers and swings were also found to have hidden hazards. Deaths from these devices occurred when babies were not positioned correctly in the device and were unable to breathe. 

To keep young children out of harm’s way, researchers made clear that babies should not be left unsupervised in these devices, and they should not be used in place of a crib or bassinet. Parents should always keep a close eye on youngsters in a carrying or sitting device — whether babies are awake or catching z’s. 


To keep infants and young children safe in any sitting or carrying device, follow these tips:

  • Do not leave children in a car seat with partially buckled or unbuckled straps, and never place car seats on an unstable surface.
  • Follow instructions for the device. Make sure your baby’s head cannot slump forward or twist into a blanket, pillow or other soft bedding.
  • If your baby will be spending a lot of travel time in a car seat or carrier, give him or her occasional breaks from the device.
  • In bouncers, swings and strollers, keep in mind that infants can move into dangerous positions even if straps are used correctly.
  • When using a sling, make sure that your infant’s face is
    “visible and kissable” at all times.
  • During naptime or bedtime, it is best to place your infant in a crib or bassinet. If your little one falls asleep in a carrier, check often to make sure his or her neck is straight and the face is uncovered.

To learn more about Indiana's Child Restraint Laws, visit the Indiana State Police website.

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