I can’t tell you how many times one of my children has fallen asleep in their car seat. I have three kids and driving home from church on Sunday always seemed to coincide with naptime.
Sometimes, my wife and I valiantly try to keep them awake. Other times, though, we let them slump in their car seats and catch a few winks.
I never imagined it could be dangerous. But a report out of Aledo, Texas, shows that having an infant snooze in a car seat is anything but safe.
Lisa Smith was like most busy moms, simultaneously trying to raise a family and hold down a job. Fortunately, she had a babysitter who she trusted.
Every day she would leave her little toddler, Mia, in the sitter’s care, always without issue.
But when Mia was about 18 months old, Smith got a terrible call. There was something wrong with her baby.
“I got a call while I was at work,” she told WFAA. “Worst call I’ve ever had in my life.”
“‘Drop everything. Mia didn’t wake up from her nap.’”
The babysitter had done something that seems quite normal to most of us: She put Mia down for a nap in her car seat.
According to Fox News, Mia must’ve slumped down in the seat while she slept. That slumped position likely cut off her airway and led to suffocation.
“There’s nothing about the car seat that’s designed to sleep,” said Sharon Evans, a coordinator for trauma prevention at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.
A New York-based children’s agency agreed.
“Because babies don’t lie flat in car seats, they can suffocate when their heads (which are very heavy compared to the rest of their bodies), tip forward, blocking their airway,” said the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. “These products are not made for babies to sleep in and are dangerous because babies are not sleeping flat on their backs.”
Even medical literature has precautioned not to allow little ones to nod off in their car seats.
“It is undisputed that car seats save lives. Like any other consumer item, however, they are only safe when used as directed,” read an article in the July 2015 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.
Examining data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the article identified 47 children under the age of 2 who passed away while sleeping in a car seat. More than half of them weren’t in a car at the time.
Heartbroken, Smith hopes that other people will learn from her horrible experience.
“(Mia) was our first born, our only child, and she didn’t deserve what happened to her,” she said. “But other families don’t deserve this to happen to them either.”
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