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What Is The 2-Hour Rule For Car Seats

Let’s be honest, car seats are a lifesaver, literally. And they are the only reason why it’s convenient for you to run errands or travel long distances with your baby in tow. Some parents even swear by long car rides in order to put their baby to sleep, which tends to happen a lot. Most babies fall asleep in the car seat while on a long drive, irrespective of if that was the intention all along or just a happy coincidence. And most parents just detach the infant carrier from the car when it’s time to get down and let the baby sleep in it rather than transfer them into a crib and risk waking them up. After all, who wants to wake a sleeping baby? And although many sleep deprived parents will agree with this logic, it may not be as safe as you expected to leave your baby asleep in the carrier for long periods of time. Here are some car seat rules that you ought to follow for the wellbeing of your baby and why you shouldn’t let your baby nap in them for long. Read on to know more!

What Is The 2 Hour Car Seat Rule?

The UK based organization Lullaby Trust states that car seat manufacturers and health care professionals highly recommend that parents and caregivers of babies limit the amount of time they spend in a car seat to 2 hours in a 24 hour long period (1). Moreover, The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds caregivers that babies are not supposed to fall asleep in a car seat as they must sleep in a supine position for their own safety (2). Another reason to avoid allowing your baby to sleep in a car seat for longer than 2 hours is that doing so may lead to a strain on their spine and potentially restrict airflow to the baby’s lungs. Two things you want to avoid at all cost! There is even a 10 year long study of 11,700 sleep-related deaths in infants determined that 348 of those deaths occurred in a car seat or other sitting device (3). The 2 hour rule is just a precaution to avoid anything drastic or dangerous from happening to your baby.

2 Hour Rule Baby Travel Tips

The 2 hour rule may not be the most common baby car seat rule out there, which is probably why you haven’t heard of it before, but it does ensure your baby’s safety and that’s what makes it so important. While the rule’s primary aim is to ensure that your baby doesn’t stay put in one position for too long on a trip, there are also things that you can do to make sure that your baby is safe and sound even at the times when they are sitting upright. One way to do this is to invest in a head support product of some sort in order to help protect your baby’s head from drooping or flopping about. Your baby’s neck is still delicate and can’t hold the full weight of their head, which is why a head rest is needed to give them the support they need to keep their head in place. This way your baby is safe from experiencing any jerks that might restrict airflow while on the road. Many stroller/car seat travel systems already include head support in the infant seat, but keep in mind that good head supports can also be purchased separately.

It’s also important to note that irrespective of the accessories you use, research still recommends you adhere to the 2-hour rule and allow for frequent breaks when traveling with an infant. This could mean that you stop at rest stops regularly and take your baby out of the car seat and into the fresh air. This is also your chance to bottle feed them or change their diaper. Or you could also have to break up a long road trip into multiple days rather than simply driving straight throughout until you reach your destination. Parents have to be mindful of where all the gas stations and rest stops are along the way. It’s also a good idea to mark out baby safe hotels along your map if you need to stop for the night. However, if you are not sure if there will be any such hotel on your way, then you can always opt to bring along a bassinet or a portable play yard with you. This is integral as it’s not safe for your baby to sleep in the car seat for long periods of time.

Another thing to keep in mind is the temperature in the car. It can get pretty hot in the car if you are traveling long distances. So make sure to take a break and roll down your windows to let some fresh air in and cool down the car. Similarly, if it’s cold, crank up the heat and take off your baby’s padded jacket. This way they are less likely to get ejected from the car seat if you hit the breaks all of a sudden.

Traveling with a baby for a short distance or long can be challenging. But make sure to follow the 2 hour rule so that your baby reaches the destination safe and sound!

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