Car seats are no doubt an important baby item to buy, but the amount of time an infant spends in one should be limited. While it’s a necessity for car transport and ideal for the on-the-go parent, constantly using a car seat as a substitute for a carrier when not travelling isn’t always the best choice and can even cause harm. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider leaving the car seat in the car the next time you’re out with your baby.
An increase in flattened heads and breathing problems
Research suggest that plagiocephaly, which is the medical term for the flattening of a baby’s skull, is linked to the increased time a baby spends in his or her infant carrier. According to a study called Car Seats, Infant Carriers, and Swings: Their Role in Deformational Plagiocephaly, the constant pressure a car seat applies to “the back of the cranium may perpetuate the deformation.” Additionally, infants who spend an extended time sleeping in their car seats can experience chest compression and restriction of the airways. This can lead to a reduced level of oxygen in the blood. A study published in the journal Pediatrics recommends that a child safety seat “only be used for protection during travel and not as a replacement for a crib.”
The physical strain of carrying your car seat
Many times the baby inside the car seat weighs about as much as the infant carrier itself, which can be a heavy load for any mother to carry. To understand the risk of this: the hormone relaxin is released during pregnancy to help a mother’s body stay loose in preparation for childbirth. It stays in a woman’s body for about nine months after birth. During this time a woman is more susceptible to falls and strains, which provides one reason why some practitioners recommend that a woman not do any heavy lifting until she’s healed from birth. Carrying an 8 pound infant in a 6 pound car seat equals 14 pounds. That’s heavy lifting right after birth!
Infant carriers remove personal touch
All the time your baby spends in the car seat is time they’re not spending attached to you. When you’re shopping, or visiting with friends let the baby be held in someone’s arms or in a different kind of infant carrier like a sling. According to an article posted on Mothering.com, when researchers in a Columbia University study gave new mothers of low socioeconomic status either a “soft, wearable infant carrier” or a car seat, “the babies who had been transported in wearable carriers were significantly more likely to demonstrate a strong attachment to their mothers” just after 13 months.
While the temptation is certainly there after a baby is born, resist the urge to let them stay in their car seat when they’re not travelling. An infant carrier is more ideal and allows a baby to have maximum touching and holding time. Besides maintaining that perfect round head, you’ll benefit from all the added snuggle time.
About Liz Alfano
I write "Dirty Words," the blog about things you should know, but might not. I'm the mother of two elementary school-aged boys and wife of one adult aged man. When not writing, I can be found reading or staring into space wishing I was either reading or writing. Sometimes I'm seen vacuuming...but not often. www.mydirtywords.comWeb | More Posts (53)