Many parents have wondered how their infant can breathe while slumped over in a car seat. Now a new study shows that parents are right to wonder: infants in car seats and car beds have mildly lower oxygen levels than babies in cribs.
Does this mean you should stop using the car seat? Absolutely not, says Dr. Bernard Kinane, senior author of the study and chief of the pediatric pulmonary unit at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. “For safe transportation, nothing beats them.”
But when infants are not in a vehicle, it’s wiser to take them out of the car seat. “The longer you put them in the car seat, the more likely you are to have problems,” Kinane says.
“We found that about 20 percent of the babies (in car seats) had lower oxygen saturations. In car beds, where they’re lying flat, 27 percent had mildly lower oxygen levels,” Kinane says. “So we think it’s sitting up and kinking the head, but also the buckle being too tight.”
Fixing the problem is fairly simple, Kinane says. Parents should loosen the straps when babies strapped into a car seat are placed into something such as a shopping cart. And only use car seats outside of vehicles when absolutely