The 30 minute rule
Advice on driving with infants has changed in recent years after a study showed that newborn babies lying in a car seat for as little as 30 minutes can experience increased heart and breathing rates and reduced blood oxygen levels. This is a result of the unnatural angle and ‘scrunched up’ position created by infant car seats – although this provides optimum protection in a collision, it isn’t the ideal resting position. So yes, an infant car seat is an absolute ‘must’ when travelling with a baby, but some parents are exposing their babies to unnecessary risk by keeping them in a car seat far longer than is recommended.
Car seats not for sleeping
When you arrive at your destination to find your baby has fallen asleep along the way, it may seem sensible not to disturb them, and many parents simply lift the seat out of the car and leave the baby resting. But according to experts at the University of Bristol which carried out the research, a baby should always be taken out of their car seat at the end of a journey, and placed in a cot or Moses basket. Parent of infants under 6 weeks old should avoid taking their babies on car journeys of more than half an hour. And whenever possible, an adult should accompany the baby in the back seat to keep an eye on their position.
Top tips for driving with a baby on board
• Make sure your car seat is designed for your baby’s age and weight, and is fixed securely in the car.
• Don’t drive for more than 30 minutes with a newborn baby. If a longer trip is absolutely necessary, take regular breaks and lift your baby out of the car seat when you stop.
• Whenever possible, have an adult sit in the back of the car with the baby.
• If the baby slumps forward in their seat, pull over, lift them out and take a break from driving.
• Do not use a car seat for anything other than transport – never leave a baby sleeping in their car seat after a journey.