Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Best Start Possible... a very sad addendum, and reader comments

Since the posting of my recent article, The Best Start Possible,” in which I called attention to the potential developmental challenges caused to infants by overuse of car seats outside the car, I’ve received two comments that I’d like to share, and a link to an article about something I truly wish hadn’t happened.

I’ll start with the article. Not long ago a friend shared this link to a tragic story told in the Blackfoot (Idaho) Morning News:

This article arrived in my in-box just a few days after I'd posted my own Blog story. I cried for this infant, who died of airway constriction, from sleeping in an upright position without sufficient support for her head. This is called “positional asphyxia.”

Now, the story goes on. As I began to write this Blog posting, I found I’d mislaid the original link my friend had sent, so I did a Web search. What did I find? I found that article, and many more, all about babies dying when left to sleep in car seats.
I couldn’t open any more than these three links. It was just too sad.

Please spread the word. Babies should sleep horizontally. Babies should sleep horizontally. Babies should sleep horizontally. Babies left to sleep in an upright position can die of positional asphyxia. 

This includes sleeping in baby swings. Please see the journal Pediatrics, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, for their recommendations on infant sleep positions:

Now, I’ll exhale and move on.

I would like to thank the readers of my Blog who posted their own comments in response to my original “The Best Start Possible” posting, about the developmental hazards of overuse of infant car seats. I’m sharing them here with you all.

As a mother of three kids, 2 biological and 1 foster care/almost adopted, I could not agree more. Our 16 month old spent the first 4 months of her life in a car seat before she was removed from her biological caregivers. She has been diagnosed as having a stiff spine which has hindered her speech and motor development. We hope that she will continue to improve in both areas now that she regularly sees a physical therapist and a speech therapist. Parenting this child has required a particular amount of patience and love. I hope others will realize that children need to be able to move and stretch without being strapped down! :)

This child is fortunate to now be in the care of someone who understands her challenges and is in a position to support her with therapy. 

How many children are out there, who are not so fortunate? And, considering all the challenges inherent in this kind of neurological damage, what happens when they hit school age? What kind of learning challenges are educators facing with these children, and are schools equipped to recognize and provide the kind of therapy that these children need? 

Another reader shared this:

I would love to stand on a street corner and hand this [article] out to all the mamas I see carrying "bucket babies.” Hurray to the mom who followed her gut... Have shared with colleagues at a local pediatric outpatient clinic. Maybe they will post in the waiting room!

I know exactly what this correspondent means! I’d like to be right there on that street corner with her!

I cannot make a blanket assumption about every infant I see being carried in a car seat, because I see that child for just a few minutes of its life. I truly hope that, as soon as the caregiver gets where he or she is going, the infant is removed from the car seat and held, or put down on its tummy or back. I wish I believed that this happens all the time.

And consider this: Parents must (unfortunately) assume that anything for sale in the baby equipment store is safe to use. We see babies in these carriers everywhere in our world. Who questions this, let alone makes noise about it?

Perhaps you’d like to join me in envisioning a world where all caregivers know the damage that overuse of car seats can do, and are careful to position babies appropriately and safely for their best development and growth.

And let’s support our vision with action. One way I’m doing this is by writing these postings, and making them available to be shared. Want to stand on a street corner with me?

With warm regards,


P.S. I'd love to know your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Please "Post a Comment" below.
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