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When a long and uncomfortable drive lies ahead, it's always a blissful moment when you realise your tot has finally fallen asleep in the back, snug in his car seat.

Despite the silent solace that snoozing babies in a car's back seat offers, a new study shows that this might not be the best time for a nap after all. So no more driving around in the middle of the night trying to lull bub to sleep!

A study from the University of Auckland has revealed that when babies fall asleep in a car seat, their heads slump forward, causing prolonged periods of low oxygen saturation that can be harmful to your baby's health.

Dr Christine McIntosh from the Department of Physiology at the University of Auckland said that the study highlights the importance of not using car seats as a place of sleep for infants. This is because sudden unexpected deaths in infants (SUDI) can occasionally occur in car seats/capsules. So while many of us love the convenience of leaving a sleeping baby in their capsule and transferring from car to home, we may need to rethink.

What about those insertable head supports? Researchers also trialled an insert that helps the infant's head rest upright during sleep in a car seat. This feature did reduce the number of stop-breathing episodes caused by obstruction, and reduced the fall in oxygen levels that occurred during an episode. However, the insert did not significantly reduce the overall rate of moderate low-oxygen events - showing that it is not a complete solution to the problem.

Of course, most of us are going to have to take our babies on the occasional long road trip. If you can't avoid a long drive with your baby in the back be sure to include a range of toys and activities that can keep your tot awake and active. Stop regularly to give him a break from the seat, keep him hydrated and do your best to plan naps before or after a lengthy trip in the car.

What do you think about these new findings? Will you change the way you travel with your baby?



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