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New car seat research Advice on travel with newborns

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Singaporean parents are being warned to limit the amount of time a newborn baby spends in the car.

New findings show that very young babies are at risk from suffocating in their car seats. Weak neck muscles mean their heads can flop forwards and prevent them from breathing, with potentially fatal results.

Advice for parents

This news is the latest from paediatric researchers at Bristol University in the UK. Researchers say there should be separate advice for parents of very young babies explaining:

“If you can avoid a journey, it’s probably better to do so. If travel is necessary, try to restrict it to no more than half an hour or so. But try to avoid unnecessary car journeys with young babies.”

Researchers replicated the effects of sleeping in a car seat during a car journey at 30 mph. It was found that after half an hour the amounts of oxygen in the blood of babies under two months old were found to have dropped significantly while their heart rates increased.

Newborns and car seats

The authors stressed, however, that it is still vitally important for babies to travel in a properly secured child seat during car journeys, as is required by law in Singapore.

But they advise that if possible an adult should sit next to the baby to make sure the infant is breathing properly.

The authors warn: 'There have been reports of deaths of infants who have been left in a sitting position, including in car seats - both on journeys, and when parents have used the car seat as an alternative to a pushchair or cot for the infant to sleep in.”

They added: 'If a baby changes its position and slumps forward, then parents should immediately stop and take the baby out of the car seat.”

Safety first

Meanwhile, the general advice is that young babies sit in rear facing car seats. Parents are also advised to take the baby in and out of the seat on the pavement – not in the road.

Finally, rear-facing car seats must not be fitted in front seats of cars fitted with air bags, as this could be lethal in the event the air bag inflates.

Legal requirements in Singapore

Under the Singapore Road Traffic Act, drivers and passengers found not using a seat belt or appropriate restraints could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months, or both.

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