Using car seats for more than 30 minutes puts babies at risk of suffocation, experts warn

Newborn babies shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes in a car seat, experts have warned.

Doctors say very young babies, whose neck muscles are not strong enough to stop their heads falling forward during a car journey, could stop breathing if in a car seat for too long.

Dr Peter Fleming, a paediatrician at Bristol University, carried out research in a laboratory to simulate the effect of a baby sleeping in a car seat during a car journey at 30mph. After 30 minutes, the amount of oxygen in the blood of babies under two months, had fallen significantly.

Dr Flemming, who helped stem a cot death epidemic (sudden infant death syndrome) by discovering that babies would have a better chance of survival if they slept on their backs, is now advising that babies should travel in a properly secured child seat for a maximum of 30 minutes.

He says an adult should sit next to the baby to make sure they are breathing properly.



Dr Flemming also advises that parents “try to avoid unnecessary car journeys for babies”.

Researchers conducted the study at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital where they discovered putting babies in an upright position could cause breathing difficulties.

Manufacturers currently advise that babies of any age not be left in their car seats for more than two hours at a time.

In light of the findings, the Baby Products Association has issued the following advice:

  • Try not to use a car seat in the first four weeks of a baby’s life for periods of more than 30 minutes either inside the car or a combined period of time as part of a travel system.
  • If it is essential for young babies less than 4 weeks old to be in a car seat within a vehicle for longer periods, it is recommended that an adult sits in the rear of the vehicle with the child to regularly check its comfort. On long journeys, take regular breaks, at least every 30 minutes, removing the baby from its seat for a short period of time before continuing the journey.
  • Do not use a car seat after the age of four weeks for longer than two hours inside or outside the car or for combined periods.