Is a Lie-flat Baby Car Seat Safer?

When we talk about safety in regard to infant carriers/baby car seats, the focus is generally on the impact results the seat achieves in independent crash tests. However, there is also another consideration, how healthy is the position that the baby is in when they are in their car seat?

Let’s start by looking into why the position of your baby would be deemed less safe and pose health risks. The general ‘rule of thumb’ for the maximum duration of your baby being in a car seat is two hours. However, for newborns, this can be as low as 30 minutes.

This is because of the risks posed to the baby being in a ‘scrunched’ up position in a traditional car seat. Without the capacity to lift their head, this creates a scenario where the following risks are present:

  • Oxygen desaturation—less air reaches the lungs, which causes lower levels of oxygen in the blood.
  • Positional asphyxiation—the baby’s head falls forwards so that the chin is on the chest. This cuts off airflow to the lungs, which leads to death

If we consider the usual scenarios when using a car seat, we can pose the following question: How long is your baby in their seat before even reaching the car?

This doesn’t leave long for the accepted 30-minute rule for newborns. We can then add to this the use of the car seat on the chassis/stroller. This all adds to the increased amount of time spent in the car seat. Thus, even the two-hour scenario can come into question.

In addition, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) needs to be considered. The Lullaby Trust, who do some great work in this area, advise on the best position for sleeping and also the optimal temperatures for baby to be sleeping in. A car seat, as you can imagine, can quickly become a warm place for baby to be. So, proceed with caution, as a car seat is certainly a place where babies will catch 40 winks, and shouldn’t be a replacement for a carrycot or lie-flat pushchair seat.

When looking at all the above factors, a lie-flat infant carrier/car seat can go some way to eliminating the risks set out above.

So, when considering a baby car seat, be sure to take into account your lifestyle and potential use of the infant carrier/car seat. These seats have compatibility across a range of strollers as well, so won’t limit your choices.

Top tips when choosing a car seat:

  • Do not buy a used car seat
  • Choose a dealer specialised in childcare
  • Choose a seat with the standards and take into account the leading European independent crash tests—ADAC, Stiftung Warentest and TCS

Looking at the Kiddy Evoluna i-Size 2 specifically (a seat that can lie-flat inside and outside of the car), the diagrams below show the effect of moving baby into a more ergonomic lie-flat position. Meaning babies bum is pushed upwards, in turn opening up their airways and allowing their head to tilt back. This seat, in particular, also incorporates a slatted base that not only helps in absorbing any potential impact forces, but also helps in the ride comfort for the baby.

Does this compromise on the safety of the seat in crash tests? This is certainly not the case, the Evoluna i-Size 2 is a crash test winner with leading European test houses and currently holds a Which? Best Buy.

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