Safe Transport - Car Seat Safety
It might be reasonably assumed that the majority of families go home from hospital by car; either by driving on their own or by getting picked up by family or friends.
In several countries it is regulated by the national law that children must use an approved car seat, which is fastened with the seatbelt or firmly attached with the seat basis. Parents are obligated to use a suitable, rear-facing baby car seat on every drive, even if it is just a short one. Parents should also be instructed in several safety issues of a car seat. This include among others, that the baby car seat should never be used in the front, especially if a passenger-seat airbag is installed. Second-hand seats are not safe unless parents know its history. Additionally, parents should never leave their child unattended in the car seat. If possible, one of the parents should sit next to the baby in the back of the car while the other one is driving.
Sometimes, it is also possible to borrow or hire a baby car seat, for example from social services. Parents should try putting their baby in the car seat before going home to make sure that the care seat is suitable and safe and that the baby feels comfortable.
They should also practise how to fit the seat into the car. The health care team can assist parents when they try this for the first time.
Due to the special curved position of a baby in the car which is caused by the construction of baby car seats, small preterm babies can have difficulties to breathe properly if the seat does not fit appropriately or if they stay in a car seat for a longer period of time.
Parents should be advised by the health care team to keep traveling by car to a minimum in the first few months and to only use the car seat in a vehicle. The car seat should not be used for sleeping or feeding. Very small babies may need special equipment to add to a normal car seat, for example supporting pads for fixing the baby’s head or extra-padding for the inside of the seat. Parents should find out if their health care tam can test for apnoea while the baby is in the seat prior to discharge.