The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Maternity Care

Useful advice on baby seats

18 August 2017

Here is some useful advice about babies sleeping in car, swing and other baby seats.

  • The safest place for a baby to sleep day and night is lying down back to mattress, feet to the bottom of the cot on a firm flat breathable mattress.
  • Never leave a baby to sleep for long periods in a car/swing seat or other baby seat or play seat.
  • On long journeys the advice from recent research is to stop regularly to change the baby’s position (at most every 2 hours and take the baby out of a car seat). Check the baby’s back, head and neck position regularly to make sure that they are not slumped forwards.
  • Premature babies and babies under 4 weeks should avoid long care journeys of more than 30 minutes.
  • Preferably someone should sit in the back of the car with the baby and check the baby every 30 minutes. For small and premature babies this should be done more regularly.
  • Swing, play and other baby seats are not designed for sleep, they are for supervised daytime activity.

This advice goes alongside the safe sleep advice that all practitioners will provide.

The Lullaby Trust, which promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep, acknowledges how difficult it is to keep babies awake when out and about, but says parents should avoid car seat sleeps as much as possible.

Lucy Lyus, the charity’s research and information manager, said: "Car seats are not recommended for long sleep periods, as an alternative for a cot or Moses basket. Of course when you’re out and about with your baby, it is difficult to avoid your baby falling asleep. It is advised that babies spend no more than two hours in a car seat at a time, so try and break up long periods of travel, and don’t let your baby sleep in a car seat when not travelling. Lie-flat car seat models are available, which are safe for babies to sleep in. It is also important to make sure babies don’t get too hot in the car, so make sure to remove any thick layers or hats. In general, our advice is that the safest place for a baby to sleep is on their back in their own cot or Moses basket, on a firm, flat, waterproof mattress."

Key points to remember when putting your child to sleep:

  • Do not leave children unsupervised
  • Never leave children in a car seat with unbuckled or partially buckled straps
  • Car seats should never be placed on a soft or unstable surface
  • Infants in bouncers, strollers and swings may be able to manoeuvre into positions that could compromise their airway; straps on devices may not prevent infants getting into hazardous situations
  • Ensure that infants cannot twist their heads into soft bedding or slump forward in a seat; restraints should be used according to manufacturer’s instructions
  • Slings are particularly hazardous because of their design and the ease with which an infant’s airway can be collapsed. If used, a baby’s face should be visible and ‘kissable’ at all times
  • Do not place more than one infant together in a swing meant for one infant

(Source Dr Erich Batra) Lullaby Trust 2016