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How harmful is it really for babies to sleep in car seats?

(17 Posts)
owl13 Tue 06-Mar-12 01:33:49

DC2 will ONLY sleep if held upright by a cuddly person, or if in her car seat. It's not a motion thing, car seat doesn't need to be going anywhere, more a posture thing. I know babies aren't meant to spend much time in their car seats, but would a couple of sleeps per day in her car seat do irreparable damage? Sometimes it seems preferable to a 24/7 shift/rota system of babyholding for myself and DH, enabling us both to get a couple of hours' kip at night... Also advice on weaning her off car seat/ cuddle dependance would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

pinkpeony Tue 06-Mar-12 10:00:50

My friend had 2 DCs with bad reflux as babies, and paediatrician recommended that both of them sleep only in car seats in the early days. Said there was no problem for their backs/development.
Weaning off cuddles on the other hand - both my DCs are toddlers now and they still love their cuddles! Don't think they'll ever wean off those.

lizzywig Tue 06-Mar-12 10:02:14

My DD now almost 17wks was a complete car seat addict. She would refuse her crib during the day (was fine at night), initially she would only sleep on us and then one day I popped her in the car seat and she learnt to get herself to sleep and was even able to self settle, that's how it began. When she got to about 10weeks (I think) I realised that this could be a bit of an issue when she went to nursery, abeit not for a long time yet. So I started to google how to get your baby out of car seats. I came across some information about how it is bad for their spines (MIL has spinal problems so it made me think) and also how it can effect their breathing because they chins are quite close to their chest. How true this is I don't know but for me it was just more fuel to the fire to get her out of it, whether it was true or not. DD would nap for almost 3 hours (twice a day) and so I just didn't want to risk it.

So I decided to go for the same tactic as I had used to get her into a bedtime routine. At 6 weeks we started bath, massage, milk and bed and it took 7 days to complete and by the end she would just drift off to sleep at night most nights. The first time we tried it it took us about 5 hours to get her to sleep and it was exhausting, it gradually got better. So at nap times I would take her up to the crib and pop her in, I tried it for a week and had no luck, the most she would nap for was 30 mins and she was exhausted. I was getting a 30 min nap out of her each day and no amount of singing, rocking, patting etc would soothe her. After that week I was exhausted, run down and got very unwell, lets face it, you spend a whole week trying to get a baby to sleep it's going to knacker you out!! DH came home put her in the car seat and she slept for 4 hours! It was sheer relief, so we went back to the car seat and for 3 or 4 days she slept for long periods while she caught up on her sleep but then all hell broke lose. She literally stopped napping, she wouldn't nap at all in the car seat or anywhere else, it was like she'd forgotten how to nap. It was horrendous because I'd take her for long walks and nothing, I'd stand rocking her for and hour and nothing. One day she screamed with me trying to calm her how for an hour.

I felt like I'd destroyed all of her good habits by taking her out of the car seat. DH was off work for a week and so we decided to tackle it together but it got worse. I think that could have been due to our inconsistant approach though (he did one thing I'd do another). So when he went back I thought right I've got to tackle this. I did some more research and someone had made a comment that if you're trying to get your baby to nap and not having luck then do what you do at bedtime. Now this will obviously be harder for you if you LO just won't let you put him down. Now obviously I wasn't about to bath her at every nap time but I realised that at bedtime she is fed before she goes to sleep. So I tried BFeeding her with no luck, she still screamed the second I put her in. Then I realised that at bedtime DH gives her a bottle of (6oz)formula and she was obviously panicking that there was no bottle. So I made up 1oz of formula and gave that to her and followed it by a BF. Once she was dozy I would pop her into her crib and she just knodded off!! I was quite stunned. She knew exactly what she wanted, it just took me a while to work it out.

I must admit that I'm now stuck in a different rut...feeding to sleep. It seems to me that with some babies each time you find a solution you step into a new problem! So I'm gradually going to witdraw the formula and just BF and then hopefully BF a while before nap time. haha like that's going to work but I keep trying.

My advice to you would be to start a bedtime routine. You don't say how old your DS is? We started ours at 6 weeks and it was painful at first but now she LOVES bedtime. If you can get that to work then hopefully naps should follow if you follow the same process for naps. It's entirely up to you of course, I know bedtime routines aren't for everyone and lets face it what I'm having to do isn't ideal so I hardly advocate it for other people to do. It's all swings and roundabouts. The best piece of advice I am learning is that you do what you have to do to get through it. I stopped worrying about what I thought I should do and suddenly everything got so much easier.

Good luck.

worldgonecrazy Tue 06-Mar-12 10:05:19

The reason car seats are not recommended for long periods is because it can affect the level of oxygen in the blood and may increase the risk of SIDS. You don't say how old your baby is. Needing a human being to snuggle up to in order to fall asleep is something that babies do grow out of eventually. My daughter started being able to fall asleep without feeding at around 3 months, but we did use a dummy to provide some comfort.

owl13 Tue 06-Mar-12 20:35:13

Hi both. Thanks for your comprehensive answers. Dc is 5 weeks old and I'd love to get a routine going. As I type she's asleep in her pram, so fingers crossed she stays there for a couple of hours. I'll let you know how it goes...

Avonbabies Tue 06-Mar-12 21:38:32

Hi, at the hospital where I gave birth I was advised not to let a baby sleep in a car seat for more than two hours without waking them because of the increased risk of SIDS. I had the babes in March and, very sadly, there had already been 5 deaths in the UK that year. This seems to be the new advice on car seats. Good luck with the sleeping! x

KateShmate Tue 06-Mar-12 21:59:51

I know that being in car seats for too long isn't good for their bones - especially their spines, as their bones are too immature to be put into that position for so long. Its just not good for them being so scrunched up.

As some others have said, its the oxygen issue aswell. Our triplets were premature and before they left SCBU, the nurses put them into their car seats but left the oxygen sats machine on. Was really surprising how much their sats went down once they were in their car seats. Obviously it wasn't dangerously low, but it clearly showed that it was restricting their breathing.

One of ours loved their carseat (others despised) but we never kept her in there simply because of the 'test' in SCBU. When I spoke to their consultant about it, she said that it horrifies her when other consultants or GP's advise people to leave their baby, especially overnight, in the car seat because of reflux or if they are unsettled.

owl13 Wed 07-Mar-12 23:34:01

Update: since my last post, dc has had2 night-time sleeps in her pram which feels like good progress. Despite being put down for daytime naps in the pram too, dc had no sleep at all between 10am and 1930pm today, which can't be normal for a 5 week old can it? Any hints specifically on daytime naps?

MyLittleMiracle Wed 07-Mar-12 23:50:23

Daytime naps, i used to put my little one in the car seat. and in fact my midwife told me when i said it was the only place i could get him to sleep and only then for a couple of hours, to let him sleep there if he would, but it was only for a few days, and then he went into his cot. You could try (not nice i know) Sleeping with one of their teddies under your arm pit for a couple of nights and one of their sheets over you and then put that on their bed (not nice) and giving them the teddy, with some quiet music on during the day, it worked for my LO, and he is now a brilliant sleeper, He goes to bed between 7.30 and 8 every night and very rarely does he get me up during the night (is atm, cos he has a cough and cold). So it did work, just dont allow them too for too long, or its the getting them out of the habit.

Also at first i used to put him down asleep, then moved to almost asleep, then to sleepy, and now, its just its bed time, same kisses and cuddles, mummy loves you very much as i shut the door and leave him to settle himself!AND he always does!

owl13 Thu 08-Mar-12 06:04:46

Sounds good, Mylittlemiracle, thanks.

MyLittleMiracle Thu 08-Mar-12 08:45:59

No problem, at lot of people have helped me on here, and its nice to return some advice,

MadameChinLegs Thu 08-Mar-12 08:57:37

Have you tried swaddling?

Flisspaps Thu 08-Mar-12 09:09:08

What about in a sling (one that's fairly rigid so it holds her upright) in the day?

owl13 Thu 08-Mar-12 23:14:58

I have used a sling with some success, but would prefer to be able to put dc down for daytime naps. Not much luck with swaddling as yet, but will keep trying. Thanks all.

StateofConfusion Thu 08-Mar-12 23:22:29

I had a carseat loving dd also, well not really had, she still does.

I got one of those "body support" pillow things, had two tubes which were on a strip of cloth you could adjust so it cuddled her and had a small memory phone pillow at the top to cocoon her head, also elevated her crib with books. It worked to a degree.

But I'm too soft and she's too spoilt, she's three and the ultimate treat for her is us travelling at bedtime she dumped her maxi cosi for her britax evolva grin

StateofConfusion Thu 08-Mar-12 23:23:19

I did once --or twice or a lot more than that-- fall asleep and not wake up for 5hrs because she was sound asleep in her carseat.

Snugg1ebundl Wed 20-Apr-16 12:55:18

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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