Your car seat doubles as a crib
You pull into the driveway from your ride to nowhere, routed specifically to lull your oh-so-cranky baby to sleep. And voila—it worked. Chancing a transfer from car seat to crib gives you hives, so you bring the infant carrier in, unbuckle the straps so he’s more comfy, and let the sleeping giant snooze while you attempt to empty the dishwasher and vacuum without making a sound. No judgment, we’ve all done it. But we should all stop. Researchers at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center looked at 47 reported cases of children under two years old who died in sitting and carrying devices, like car seats, swings, or bouncers. Most of the deaths occurred in car seats—about half due to strangulation by the straps, the other half were caused by suffocation from improper positioning. Your baby is at very little risk if he is properly buckled into a properly positioned car seat that is properly secured in a car. But out of its intended context, the seat could topple over from an unstable or elevated surface; unfasten the restraints, and things can turn hazardous. Never leave your little one unattended in his car seat—awake or asleep; keep him buckled in until you’re ready to pick him up; and outside of the car, the carrier should be placed on a firm, stable surface. Ultimately, the safest spot for your baby to sleep is his crib. Oh, and about that crib…
You (still) use crib bumpers
Yes, those padded pieces of fabric cushion the slats a little. And they make the crib look cozy and coordinate nicely with the rest of the nursery décor. But seriously, who cares? You have absolutely heard the advice to dump crib bumpers, and here is yet another reason to heed it: 23 babies died because of them over a seven-year span between 2006 and 2012—that’s three times higher than the average number of deaths in the three previous seven-year time spans, according to data reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Babies either got their face caught in the bumper and couldn’t breathe or got wedged between the bumper and something else in the crib. The significant uptick may be in part due to more awareness among doctors and reporting by states, but overall the authors believe these numbers are still “substantially” under-counted. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to use any bumpers—that includes thick, thin, or the newer, mesh versions. Instead, they and other experts recommend a minimalist approach: just a firm mattress covered in a tight-fitting sheet, without any pillows, blankets, bumpers, toys, stuffed animals, or positioning devices. Your baby should sleep on his back, in footy pajamas if he’s cold.