Babies fall asleep just about anywhere – in their portable swing, in their high chair, and, yes, especially their car seat. There’s something about the movement of a car that lulls a baby to sleep almost instantly. However, only a comfortable, high-tech car seat can provide a good and safe sleep to a child in the car, especially infants. This baby car seat buying guide will help you choose an infant car seat that helps to ensure sleep comfort for your little one.
Infant Car Seat Options
When buying a car seat, things could get confusing right from the start. That’s because there are five different types of infant car seats from which to choose. Here’s a look at each one and a brief explanation to help you figure out the best one for your budget and lifestyle.
- Infant car seats – These types of seats have two parts: the base, which is installed in your vehicle, and a baby carrier with a handle, which can be removed from the base and used to carry along your baby. They are rear-facing only, so with this type of car seat, you will need to purchase another seat once your child outgrows it.
- Convertible car seats – If you want to save money, convertible seats transition from rear-facing to forward-facing as your child grows. Keep in mind with a convertible car seat, the carrier is not detachable, so if this feature is important to you, the infant car seat might be your better choice.
- All-in-one car seats – These are the most economical because you only have to buy one car seat. As the name implies, they transition from a rear-facing infant car seat to a forward-facing car seat and then a booster seat. However, all-in-one car seats are often heavier than other types and do not have the convenient detachable baby carrier.
- Toddler booster seats – They easily transition from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat simply by removing the harness. Toddler boosters are another cost-saving option for those who choose an infant car seat.
- Booster seats – Once your child is older and has surpassed the height and weight requirement of a forward-facing car seat, a booster seat is the last type of car seat you’ll need. It gives your child a boost up so your vehicle’s seat belt system properly fits across your youngster’s chest and upper thighs. Booster seats are offered in two styles: backless, if your vehicle has a high head rest in the back seat, and high back, which gives younger children who fall asleep a comfortable head rest.
Baby Car Seat Sleep Comfort Features
Each of the five different types of car seats come with various features, with some models providing advanced and high-tech options that focus on the comfort of the child while providing ease of use and convenience to parents or caregivers. Some advanced sleep comfort features to look for are:
- Lateral headrests that cushion your baby’s head on both sides and keeps it centered.
Side impact protection with energy absorbing foam for a secure and comfortable fit as your baby sleeps.
- A removable pillow for additional head protection, especially on rough roads.
Extra inner lining padding for long-lasting comfort, a must if you’ve chosen a car seat that transitions as your child grows.
- Side wings or padded sections to provide comfort around your baby’s shoulders and chest when sleeping.
- Fabric padding made of breathable and absorbing fabric to ensure your baby stays dry and comfortable while sleeping.
- Car seat inserts that cradle your baby, especially smaller babies.
- A sleeping position, found on some car seats and toddler booster seats, that is easy to adjust and provides a comfortable napping position. However, for infants, be sure to check the car seat manufacturer’s manual for proper angle installation.
Matching Sleep Comfort Features With Car Seat Types
Which car seat you choose for your baby’s sleep comfort depends on how it will blend into your lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some typical scenarios:
If you make short trips to and from different places, then infant car seats are quick and easy to use, making it a breeze to take your baby in and out of your vehicle without waking him or her up.
Infant seats are also beneficial if you have more than one child and need to fit a slimmer car seat alongside others in the back seat.
If your baby will be riding in different vehicles, then convertible seats offer flexibility and cost-savings, going from rear-facing to forward-facing as the child grows. All-in-one car seats offer long-lasting use and adaptability, providing a safety seat from birth to elementary school age.
Most parents prefer the advantages of convertible car seats and all-in-one car seats. Be sure to look for the highest rated convertible and all-in-one seats, which get top grades in all safety features, government crash ratings and sleep comfort.
Booster seats serve a single purpose, giving your child the lift necessary to sit safely and securely in the back seat. To save money, buy an all-in-one car seat that already includes a booster.
Do’s and Don’ts of Babies Sleeping in Car Seats
DO allow your baby to fall asleep in the car seat while the vehicle is in motion.
DON’T go on long trips with an infant in a car seat without making frequent stops. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that infants should not remain in car seats for more than two hours. Schedule rest stops every 30 minutes and take your baby out of the car seat.
DO wake up your baby if you’re making a stop where you’ll be staying a while, such as a restaurant, shopping, etc.
DON’T let your baby nap in the car seat outside of the vehicle, such as at a restaurant, a home, daycare center, etc. It puts your baby at risk for decreased oxygen levels when the vehicle is not in motion and positional asphyxia.
DO remove your baby from the baby carrier once you’ve arrived home or at your destination.
DON’T use a car seat in lieu of a crib or bed because it can overturn and the harness and the safety straps could restrict a child’s airway.
DO take a break from driving to feed your baby.
DON’T feed or give your baby a bottle while he or she is sitting in a car seat because the harness and safety straps could restrict the airway and cause choking or suffocation.
Keep Napping in Mind When Buying a Car Seat
No matter the age, there’s no doubt your child will take a nap while a passenger in your vehicle. To ensure a sound nap, keep in mind sleep comfort when choosing a car seat for your baby. It’s a small factor that delivers big rewards.