Newborns left in car seats for more than 30 minutes can suffocate, parents warned

6 September 2019, 12:00

Expers have issued a warning about car seats (stock image)
Expers have issued a warning about car seats (stock image). Picture: Getty

Experts have warned that leaving infants in carseats can be fatal

Experts have warned parents that leaving a newborn in a car seat for longer than half an hour could prove fatal, but only a third of parents are aware of the risk.

A survey conducted by Churchill Car Insurance found that just 31 per cent of parents are aware that babies spending long periods of time in car seats are at risk of problems with their breathing and heart rate.

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In addition, a similar amount of parents weren't aware that they should take 15 minute breaks with every two hours while travelling with a newborn.

Parents are advised to take a 15 minute break every two hours when driving long distances with newborns (stock image)
Parents are advised to take a 15 minute break every two hours when driving long distances with newborns (stock image). Picture: Getty

Three quarters of parents were found to be unaware that babies travelling for more than 30 minutes in a car seat can experience breathing problems.

The poll, which surveyed around 2,000 adults, found that younger parents were more aware of the risks than those over 35.

The University of Bristol's Professor Peter Fleming, who helped helped conduct previous research funded by the Lullaby Trust, has said that the dangers arise due to the newborn being in the 'scrunched up' position in a carseat.

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He said: "Although it is very important for parents to always use an appropriate car seat for young babies on car journeys, the baby should always be taken out of the seat and placed in a suitable sleeping place such as a cot or Moses basket after the journey. Car seats are not designed for longer periods of infant sleep.

"In the first four-to-six weeks after birth parents should try to avoid car journeys of more than 30 minutes for their baby, and whenever possible an adult should travel with the baby in the back seat of the car to keep a check on their position and well-being.

"If longer journeys are unavoidable, please take regular breaks in which the baby is taken out of the car seat as much as possible."

And Alex Borgnis, head of car insurance at Churchill, added: "Driving with newborns is usually unavoidable and parents shouldn't be worried every time they need to do so - after all, the safest way for a baby to travel in a car is in a car seat, and it is also required by law.

"There are some simple steps parents can take to help reduce any potential risk. Avoid driving for long distances with a newborn baby as much as you can and if you need to, remember to stop regularly and, if possible, have an adult in the back of the car to keep an eye on your baby and check it isn't slumping forward.

"It is also important to remember not to use car seats as sleeping aids, however tempting it may be to leave a baby sleeping."


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