Positional asphyxiation is a preventable tragedy that occurs when a baby is left in a car seat, carrier, swing, or another seat to sleep, only to pass away because a slouched-forward position cuts off the infant’s airway making it so the baby can’t breathe. Daycare providers, babysitters, and other caregivers should be aware of the dangers of leaving a baby to sleep unattended in a seat instead of a crib.
Why Positional Asphyxiation Occurs
The same car seats that keep children safe in the car can become a safety risk during nap time. When properly installed in a car using the provided base or tethers, a car seat sits at an angle that keeps the baby’s head upright, even if the baby falls asleep. The moment the car seat comes out of the car, the angle changes. When a baby falls asleep, the head often tips forward, and this can cut off the airway. Parents and daycare providers need to remember that car seats are designed for crashes, not as sleep environments.
What Is a Safe Sleep Environment?
Preventing positional asphyxiation requires a safe sleep environment at all times for the child. Babies need to sleep on their backs in a crib or playpen, and without any stuffed animals, blankets, or pillows. Any other position or location is not safe for a baby to sleep.
How to Protect a Child While in Daycare
When a child goes to daycare or when a care provider comes to the child’s home, parents must be vigilant to ensure their provider follows proper safety precautions. Parents need to ensure that children are never left unsupervised in a carrying device, like a car seat, whether awake or asleep. Children also should not be placed in a car seat without the straps buckled, and car seats should never be set on a soft, unstable surface. Finally, parents can protect their children by providing a safe sleep environment for their daycare provider or inspecting the center to ensure safe sleeping arrangements are provided.