July 20, 2017
Ahhhh! The sound of silence in the car means the kids have finally fallen asleep in their car seats on your road trip. You’re overjoyed to have some peace and quiet. But, is it okay? Is it safe? You might have read otherwise. The truth is that sleeping in a car seat can be safe for babies and kids, but you have to choose the right car seat arrangement, while preserving a solid sleep routine for them.
There are two fundamental issues expressed by experts concerning infants and children sleeping in the car. The first concern is to protect their access to oxygen, which is typically a larger concern with newborns and younger infants. The second issue is making sure there is adequate protection during a car crash. Safety restraints such as seat belts and car seats are intended to mitigate the impact that smaller bodies face during an automobile accident. When kids fall asleep in the car, they may change the way they sit, increasing their risk of injury.
The problem, of course, is that many kids are going to fall asleep in the car, no matter what experts suggest or what parents try to encourage. Newborns can sleep as much as 18-20 hours a day, and the rhythm of the engine and the rolling highway are as likely to promote sleep as a soft lullaby or a white noise machine.
If your baby is especially young, was born prematurely or has known breathing conditions, ask your doctor about ways to allow them to breathe fully while in a car seat. Avoid moving young children into a booster seat as long as possible, because a car seat’s five-point harness will help to keep their heads and necks in place better. Once your children are old enough to sit in the car without a car seat, discourage them from shifting the seat belt around for sleep.
Another issue with sleeping in the car is that it can really mess up a good sleep routine. On long trips, this may be unavoidable. But in general, you want your children to do the vast majority of their sleeping in a bed.
If you are headed to a place where your children can sleep very soon, try to discourage them from falling asleep in the car before you get there. Sing songs or offer soft toys or a book to distract them. These practices will help to promote better sleep routines at home, without forcing you to drive down the road with a screeching, overtired child.
There are a lot of after-market products to help with sleeping in the car, but you should be careful about the ones you choose. Many items that are designed to attach to the car seat may make it more dangerous in the event of an accident. Contact the manufacturer of your car seats to find out which options are best. Some people like to use something like a head strap for car seat, which holds a child’s head in place, even if they fall asleep. However, such products may ultimately become a choking hazard, especially if they are loose enough to be pulled down. The best way to help cushion the head and neck for a younger child who is sleeping in the car is to keep them in the most secure car seat that will fit them by age and size.
All you want is a good trip – and screaming kids in the car tend to ruin that. With these tips, you determine how to make it safer and more practical for your whole family.