Travelling with babies and children can be tricky, and when they finally fall asleep in the backseat, the silence feels golden!
It may be tempting to leave your sleeping bub settled in their car seat when you stop for a break, or to bring them into your van or RV still in their seat, but this has been shown to increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) and SIDS. While car seats are critical in keeping baby safe in a collision, they are not designed as safe sleep spaces. This is because babies sleeping in inclined (tilted) positions tend to drop their head forward onto their chest. This “chin-to-chest” position can kink off the baby’s airway, blocking airflow.
When you are in the car and travelling, it is important to check your baby regularly. While bub’s car seat is rear-facing, a mirror mounted to the car’s headrest can help you to keep an eye on them from the front of the car. Watch for any signs that your baby is having difficulty breathing, or any changes in their skin colour that might indicate a problem.
While you are checking bub, also be on the lookout for signs of overheating. Heavily padded car seats, combined with sun coming in through the car windows, may result in bub getting too warm, which is a known risk factor for SUDI. If bub looks flushed or pale, or is sweaty, make sure you stop and remove a layer of their clothing, and NEVER leave a baby unattended in a car for any length of time.
Also, remember that babies need rest breaks too! Whenever you stop for fuel or pull over for drink or a driver change, make sure to take baby out of their seat so they can stretch out, even if this means waking them briefly. Importantly, when you reach your destination, remember to take bub out of their car seat or capsule. While your car seat or capsule may be designed to unclip from the base, Red Nose Australia does not recommend using these devices as a sleep space outside of the car. Instead, settle bub in their own safe sleep space. A safe sleep space is a firm, flat mattress (ideally in a portacot, or possibly on the floor), with no additional padding and no soft or loose bedding.
Wherever your adventures take you, remember to follow the Red Nose Australia Safe Sleep Recommendations to keep your bub safe. These include:
- Always place baby on their back to sleep
- Keep baby’s face and head uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free, before and after birth
- Safe sleeping environment, day and night
- Sleep baby in their own safe sleep space in the parent or caregiver’s room for the first 6 months
- Breastfeed baby
For more information, click here – https://rednose.org.au/news/car-seat-safety