Which? offers safety advice for parents following the death of four-month-old Lily Aiken from Derbyshire. She died of natural causes after sleeping in her child car seat indoors for an extended period of time.
Lily’s parents said that Lily regularly slept in her child car seat, sometimes overnight, as she wouldn’t settle in her carrycot.
The postmortem examination found nothing to explain her death, concluding it was a case of sudden infant death syndrome, which can be caused by unsafe sleeping positions
Using a child car seat safely
Which? child car seat expert Victoria Pearson says: ‘Child car seats should not be used for extended periods of time or as a replacement for a cot bed. However, you must always use a child car seat when travelling with your child.’
At Which? we take the subject of child car seats very seriously – our independent crash tests are the best in Europe and more stringent than official tests. To become a Best Buy, a car seat must protect the child in severe front and side crashes and must have no major weaknesses – such as being difficult to install correctly – that might lead to it not protecting your child properly in a crash.
If you need to buy a new child car seat, find out which ones we recommend in our child car seat reviews, which include 12 Best Buys and 10 Don’t Buys.
Child car seat risks
Although there was no direct link found between sleeping in the child car seat and Lily’s death, studies published on medical website Pediatrics have found that, because of restricted airways, oxygen saturation levels (the amount of oxygen in your blood) are lower when children are in child car seats.
The average oxygen saturation level declined to 95.7% when a child spent 60 minutes in a child car seat, as opposed to 97.9% in a cot bed, with the lowest average level being 83.6%. Doctors have said that these levels do not pose an immediate risk, but are a good reason not to use a child car seat for anything other than travel.
- Discover the lengths we go to in testing child car seats
- See our tips on choosing a child car seat
- Find the best cot bed and see our advice on buying a cot bed