Is your baby having too much car seat time?

Using a car seat when not in the car and for too long can be bad for a baby’s developing spine.

At Sandford Chiropractic Bridgend, it is my honour and privilege to have a number of new mothers and new fathers under care here. But within the wider community there is something which new mums and dads need to pay attention to with their little one, and as your Bridgend Chiropractor, it is both my duty and responsibility to tell everybody I can what I know for the betterment of your offspring’s spinal health.  

Car seats have become a very popular method of transportation nowadays, and they are convenient. We can simply move the car seat straight from the car and onto the pram. The car seat however is what most chiropractors would term as a “necessary evil” and overuse of these seats can be detrimental to the development of your baby’s spinal curves. While sitting in a car seat, it keeps your baby’s spine from top to bottom in a C shape, which is the opposite to the natural curves which want to develop at the neck and low back. 

 

 What can be done to help? 

Of course, legally we must use a car seat in the car that has been fitted in accordance with the manufacturers instructions, this goes without saying and we at Sandford Chiropractic Bridgend encourage everybody to follow the legal guidelines. But please mums and dads, do not overuse the car seat, ideally, stick to using the car seat for what it was intended, car journeys  – and that’s it.  

The “2 hour rule” should be followed, most manufacturers advise that a baby should spend no more than 2 hours in a car seat within a 24 hour period due to pressure on the developing spine,  and due to reduction of oxygen to the baby’s lungs. This is backed up by the British Medical Journal’s 2016 study titled “Is the infant car seat challenge useful? A pilot study in a simulated moving vehicle” So there really is no reason to use the car seat beyond the car, and you definitely do not want your baby sleeping in a car seat for too long.  

Now new guidance is coming out to suggest that if the baby is less than one month old, then they should be in the car seat for 30 minutes at most. If you are on a long journey you should stop every two hours and remove your baby from the car seat to be able to stretch and move about. 

So, wherever possible, we would always advise you not to push your baby around with the car seat attached to the pram. Always transfer the baby to their pram, lying down flat until they reach an age where they can sit up unaided and then move safely onto the next stage of your pram/pushchair.  

One last thing! 

One more observation this Bridgend Chiropractor has made! Babies cannot regulate their own body temperature until they are at least two years old and even then it’s still rudimentary control. Babies can lose heat out of their body four times quicker than an adult. So, this winter, and even in summer please remember… PUT A HAT ON YOUR BABY’S HEAD!