My first son was a fussy sleeper and slept almost exclusively in his car seat until he was about 4 months old. Now I have my second son at home and it's the same thing. We tried for about 2 weeks to do the crib thing and no one could sleep. The baby was overtired and sleep deprived and it came to a point where we were balancing some theoretical unknown risk involved in sleeping in a car seat with the known problem of a sleep deprived family and infant.
The study that Dr. DuMond mentions seems extremely questionable. First let me quote from the article describing this study:
"In the study, published in Pediatrics, researchers measured oxygen levels in 200 healthy 2-day-old infants when placed in a hospital crib for 30 minutes and in an infant car seat and infant car bed for 60 minutes."
Right away that's not a valid comparison. It's a fact that oxygen levels in many babies drop while they are sleeping WHEREVER they are, in a crib or whatever. So what possible reason do they have for testing babies in cribs after only 30 minutes of sleep, compared to testing babies in car seats after 60 minutes? My guess is that they could not find any babies that would actually sleep 60 minutes, on their back, in a crib. Regardless, that discrepancy in time alone invalidates the study in my opinion.
Reading further about the study we find this: "The results showed the average oxygen saturation level of the infants in the cribs was 97.9% compared with 96.3% in the car bed and 95.7% in the infant car seat. "
Those values are not exceptional and the difference is slight. And if the authors of the study had tested babies in cribs after the same hour, instead of only 30 minutes, it seems quite possible to me that the numbers would have been even closer together.
So having basically dismissed the only "study" that there has been on the subject, I'm left with a baby who will happily sleep for 3-4 hours in a car seat, compared to 90 minutes or less in a crib. So I take precautions and preserve the sanity of my family and the sleep health of my infant.
Precautions I take that I would encourage others to follow-
first, make sure there are no blankets in the car seat that can tumble, twist, or fall in such a way to cover your baby's face.
Second, prop the car seat at such an angle that your baby's head will not tip forward. My baby is actually less tilted than the 30 degree angle that many "baby safety" sites suggest for tipping a crib. I would estimate that he is at a 15 degree angle. Curious that they talk about tipping a crib 30 degrees but freak out about car seats on the sparse and dubious data available on the subject.
Third, and this is a tip I learned from the nurses in the hospital- fold up a small cloth (for example, I use a tiny cotton onesie) and place it behind your baby's shoulders so that their chin is a little further away from the chest. This further lessens the risk of the head drooping forward and constricting the airway.
Fourth, I tuck my baby's lower body into the car seat in such a way that he is not going to drop down into the seat or otherwise droop. He's snug in there and not moving anywhere. And he loves it! It's amazing that I could even write such a long post- if he was in his crib I would have had to go comfort him twice in the time it took to write this.
To the people who point to examples of babies dying of SIDs in car seats- babies die of SIDs in cribs too. I would guess that in fact many more babies die of SIDs in cribs than in car seats. The fact that it happens is not proof that the car seat is the cause. There are many other things you can do you lessen the odds of SIDs that actually have valid studies done to support them- examples include never smoking in the house, keeping a fan or humidifier in the room to circulate the air, and making sure the baby is on his back when he sleeps.View Thread