Placing infants in carrying devices such as car seats, baby slings/swings, bouncers, and strollers for naps may put them at risk of death or injury, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sleep-related deaths are the most common cause of death for infants up to one year old.
In a new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers led by Erich K. Batra, MD, of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, describe how using alternative sleeping environments, such as carrying devices, instead of cribs can be deadly for infants. The researchers reviewed 47 cases of deaths of children under 2 years of age who died while in a device designed for sitting or carrying. All but one of the cases were attributed to asphyxia (positional or strangulation). Two-thirds of the deaths involved car seats; over half of which were due to strangulation from straps. The remaining deaths occurred in slings, swings, bouncers, and strollers. The time elapsed from when the infants were seen alive to discovered dead ranged from eleven hours to only four minutes.
Contrary to popular belief, the restraints and design of infant carrying and sitting devices are not intended for unsupervised sleeping. According to Dr. Batra, Many parents use sitting or carrying devices, not realizing that there are hazards when they do this. He also warns that children should never be placed in a car seat with unbuckled or partially buckled straps.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their back on a firm mattress, without loose bedding.