Car Seats and Baby Sleep

If you’re anything like most of us, you’ve found that a car ride is often just the ticket to help a fussy baby get to sleep. The combination of the snug hold of the car seat with the noise and vibration of a ride in the car seems to help even the fussiest babies fall asleep. Additionally, the need to focus on the road can help a frustrated parent divert some of their attention from a crying infant.

Very few would find any fault with using car rides to help baby get to sleep. When you get back from the car ride, though, the question becomes whether to leave baby sleeping peacefully in the car seat, or to try to move her to the crib without waking her up. For many parents, it would seem that the obvious choice is to leave the baby where she is as long as she is comfortable and safe.

Not the Best Place

Unfortunately, a car seat is not the safest place for baby to be sleeping, especially once it’s outside of the car. Recent studies have shown that one out of five babies sleeping in car seats have a significant have lower levels of oxygen than those sleeping in a crib. It is believed that the reason for this has to do with the way a baby is positioned while in a car seat.

Young infants have little to no control of their heads. When they are in a car seat, their head can move forward in a way which constricts the airway. While this is not especially dangerous for short durations, or while the car is moving, it’s not a good idea to leave babies stationary in a car seat for too long. Even though it risks waking the baby up, it’s much better to take them out of the car seat once you arrive home and place them into the crib.

Let Baby Fall Asleep Good Before You Move Her

One thing that can help is making sure that baby is in deep sleep before you end the car trip. Babies, like adults, go through periods of light and deep sleep. If you wait until baby is really in a state of deep sleep, you will have a better chance of moving her without waking her up. You will know that your baby is in a deep sleep state when she stops making facial expressions and noises in her sleep, and her body goes completely limp.