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29 Mar 2013

Safer car seats for premature babies

Lie-flat features on new 0+ child car seats

Two new group 0+ child car seats were unveiled at the Harrogate Nursery Fair that might make it easier to travel with premature and newborn babies.

The safest way for babies to travel in a car is in a properly fitted, rearward-facing baby seat. But premature and low birth weight babies in car seats can be susceptible to a drop in the oxygen level in their blood and breathing problems in as little as 45 minutes.

Two new car seats have features that may help parents who need to transport their little ones when they are particularly vulnerable.

Cybex Aton 3 infant carrier

Although essentially the same car seat as the Cybex Aton 2, which has been tested by Which?, the new Cybex Aton 3 includes a padded liner that fills up part of the seat shell under the baby's bottom, providing a flatter surface to lie on.

As the baby grows you can move the liner, creating more room for the baby's bottom until they lie in the normal 45 degree position. Cybex also claims that this adjustment leaves more space and comfort for bigger babies, which is vital for keeping them in their rearward-facing car seat for as long as possible.

Like the Aton 2 it can be installed in the car with the adult seat belt and on abelted or Isofix base.

Kiddy Evolution Pro infant carrier

Generally we advise that you only use the baby seat in the car with low birth weight children and not on a pushchair frame because car seats do not provide a lie flat position.

But the new Kiddy Evolution Pro may provide an alternative. It can be adapted from the carrying position to a low, flat sleeping position, which can only be used when the seat is attached to a stroller.

A premature baby inlay for the seat is also available.

We hope to test both of these child car seats in the future.

Advice for parents of premature babies

If you have a premature or low birth weight baby:

  • Ask the hospital to assess whether it is safe for the baby to travel in a baby seat before you are discharged (some hospitals routinely do this assessment).
  • Take your baby home in an approved rearward-facing baby seat that is suitable for the car and is properly fitted.
  • Do not keep the baby in the seat for longer than necessary.
  • Recline the baby seat as much as possible when in the car (making sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for fitting and using it).
  • Never leave the child unattended in the seat. Try to have someone else do the driving so you can sit next to the baby to keep an eye on him or her.
  • Keep car travel to a minimum in the first few months.

If in any doubt, consult the hospital or your GP.

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