Research warns that infants under four weeks shouldn’t travel in car seats for more than 30 minutes.

Last year we shared a study conducted in the UK at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital revealed that putting babies in an upright position in a car seat may cause breathing difficulties.

The study showed a significant drop in oxygen levels due to the position of the infant in the car seat.

Most car seats are designed to fit a baby who is over three months old.

Professor Peter Fleming says newborn babies could be at risk of suffocating when taken on long car journeys.

He recommends avoiding long journeys for young babies.

The research also concluded  “Taking regular breaks when driving long distances is also recommended. As well as giving a baby a chance to move out of their car seat, it will also help keep the driver alert and reduce the risk of accidents.”

‘Ideally, a second adult should travel in the back of the car with the baby and a mirror should be used so the driver can keep an eye on the baby at all times.

‘If a baby changes its position and slumps forward, then parents should immediately stop and take the baby out of the car seat.

A recent study, carried out by Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation showed that the upright position of rear-facing seats, along with the movement of the car, could cause breathing difficulties for an infant.

Researchers analysed the heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen saturation of 40 babies – aged under two months – lying in car seats at a 40° angle in a vehicle simulator that mimicked the vibrations of a moving car.

This was compared to information collected from the babies when they were resting flat in a cot.

The results revealed that all the babies showed ‘significant signs of potentially adverse cardiorespiratory effects,’ when in the upright position in a car seat.

This means their heart rate and breathing rate increased, while blood oxygen levels decreased.

Professor Peter Fleming, from the University of Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine, said:

‘Placing an infant at the more upright 40° position, along with the vibration experienced in a car, leads to significantly increased heart and respiratory rates, and decreased oxygen saturation.’

‘If possible parents should avoid any long trips.’

‘Car seats should never be used as an alternative to a cot or a crib. Newborns aren’t very good at remaining in an upright position for extended periods.’

A US couple called for strict guidelines on infants sleeping in car seats after loss of infant son at day care. Read their heartbreaking story HERE.

Did you avoid long trips with your newborn?

Share your comments below.

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  • My babies never sat upright in a car seat they are always reclined. The laws must be very different in Uk then Australia.


  • I think more research is needed into different car restraints. We almost only want what’s best for our little ones and knowledge is power.


  • Really great article and advances in safety research.


  • Obviously need to avoid long trips with such a small baby as they can’t fit in the upright position which is not good . They can get hurt.


  • Our hospital did oxygen tests in car seats on both my babies before I was allowed to bring them home. They had to pass at being able to breathe 100% for 2 hours in a car seat.


  • Beside avoiding long trips, someone should come up with a safer design car seat for newborns as well.


  • My grandson isn’t yet 2 yo. I don’t remember him being in an upright position in his tiny baby car seat, I’m sure he was more laying down


  • Yes, makes sense, it is also a worry these capsules that babies are left sleeping in for ages, from the car to the pram to the house! And the brands selling them promote that!


  • Interesting article and with babies there are always lots of stops as they have so many needs when they are so little.


  • I couldn’t even sit in the car for half an hour in the first four weeks.


  • We had a couple of unavoidable long trips.


  • What parent wouldn’t be checking on their newborn every five minutes – even on the shortest trip! :)


  • Fortunately we didn’t travel for longer than half an hour each trip.


  • These findings should be made widely known.


  • Babies under 6 months old are normally laying in the capsule setting not sitting upright unless they are quite long for their age. Obviously the laws in Great Britain are different to what they are here.


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