How long should a newborn be in a car seat?

How long should a newborn be in a car seat?

Ensuring your baby’s safety and security always comes as your first concern. Your little and delicate baby always needs special care to remain safe and secure, and although a mom’s arm is the safest for a baby, sometimes you need to be extra cautious to avoid any accidental discomfort or serious health hazards of your baby.

Accidents in motor vehicles and subsequent deaths of neonatal and babies under the age of 13 is a very common incident all over the world. While in most of such cases, a lack of proper usage of car seats or removal of seat-belts remains the main cause, there is a serious lack of awareness about the safety of their child during traveling in a car. Some of them think their arms are a much safer place for their child while others fear frequent accidents related to car seats.

But studies suggest that such cases are related to misuse of car seats for long hours or misconceptions while installing the car seats. If you are interested to know the know-how of car seats and as a new parent, if you are thinking of owning one, you have come to the right place. The discussions regarding the proper car-seat and materials will help you to choose smartly for the safety of your baby.

How to choose good car-seats?

The safety and security of your child not only depend on buying a car-seat but a proper car-seat with proper installation. So once you go for a car seat for your little one, keep some points in mind.

  • Avoid buying any second-hand car seat. These may come with some cracks or manufacturing defects that might be harmful and will not last long. Make sure that the product comes with clearly stated manufacturing and expiry dates. If not, contact your seller for this information.
  • Buy those seats that meet stipulated safety standards in a country. If it shows any mark of wear and tear, do not use them.
  • Make sure you install the seat properly. Most of the good branded products come with an installation manual. Follow online guides also. If grandmothers or nurses are installing it, make them perfectly aware of safety precautions.
  • Try to buy car-seats with a five-point harness and make sure to properly attach them during your rides.
  • Visit a car-seat inspection station for a better understanding of safety norms. Don’t just depend on product description guidelines while using them.
  • Always use proper belts and try to keep the right reclining position according to age. A wrong reclining position may hamper the normal development of your child’s immature spine. At the same time, it also may hurt your child’s brain and neck during collisions.

As using car-seats is not a very easy job, parents avoid using them and depend on taking them on their lap. But these are not recommended. Baby car seats are specially made and manufactured, keeping the special needs and safety measures in mind. Using a proper car seat for the little one may lessen your worries a little and make the journey a happy and comfortable journey for the child. 

What are the safety measures that I need while using a car-seat?

Using a car-seat already saves you from several security hazards during your journey. But if you want to be free from worries, follow some tips by renowned child physicians and experienced moms for the better safety of your child during driving.

  • Avoid taking your child on your lap as, during accidents, your arm may not help your little one against the dangerous speed, and you may miss hold of your child anytime. 
  • Safe installation and removal of car-seat is a delicate job. So a responsible adult should manage the whole task so that the baby does not get hurt during the process.
  • Avoid using child head-gears or snow-suits as babies already find the car a little warmer than outside.

How long can you keep your baby on a car seat?

  • If you are using a car-seat, try to maintain two-hours of maximum time in a day. If it is not possible or you are on a long journey, give your baby a break after every half an hour. You may plan the route accordingly so that you get enough places to feed and change your baby.
  • Use your car-seats only during traveling. Research says that many parents use the car seat as both a pram-seat and car seat and even let their child sleep there at night without disturbing them. This may lead to serious respiratory or bone problems. The best place for the baby to sleep is always a hard mattress with proper air-flow. Don’t keep your baby in the car-seat during sleeping time.
  • It is okay if your baby sleeps in the car seat. But make sure that you lay your baby properly on a cot as soon as you reach the destination or home. Many parents let their child be on car seats for longer hours during travel or as a stroller seat and in-home. This should be strictly avoided.
  • If the baby falls asleep in the car, make sure the straps are tightly tied, and the baby’s head does not flop forward.

Why should I avoid long hours on car-seats?

While it is easier to keep an eye on the child during travel, it may be dangerous to let the baby sleep for more time without your supervision. The reclining position in a car seat is not suitable for babies for a long time as it needs to be laid flat. Staying in the wrong position may harm your baby’s health. We will discuss that. While there is no definite time-limit for babies to keep on the car seats, it is recommended to keep your baby 2 hours a day at a stretch to avoid some health complications.

  • As new-born spines are not fully developed, staying in an upright or half-reclined position may harm your baby’s spinal development and may prove to be strenuous.
  • If the baby’s head flops forward, it may create difficulty in respiration and can cause serious breathing problems.
  • Keeping the baby in the wrong posture may also show an adverse impact on the baby’s overall physical development.

The baby’s safety on a car seat is not always dependent on the number of hours, but the parents must choose the correct car-seat according to age and weight so that your baby does not feel any discomfort while traveling.

Choose car seats smartly.

A proper car seat, properly installed with the right weight-bearing capacity for your baby, can give the little one safety, security, and comfort whenever you are in the car. Though it is suggested to use a car-seat after your baby has reached seven weeks of age, if you are carrying your premature baby in a car, be more cautious as along with fears of the accident, wrong reclining position in a car-seat may hamper the natural growth of its spine or can cause a serious respiratory problem.

So once you have decided to buy a car seat, choose smartly. There are specific car-seats for different age groups.

  • Infant-only seats: These are designed especially for babies up to 20 to 25 pounds of weight. While your baby is likely to cross this threshold within a year or two, it is suggested that we use it until your baby reaches the weight limit. These rear-facing seats are the safest option. 
  • Forward-facing only seats: These seats are designed for the weight limit of up to 80 pounds and are recommended for children up to the age of 5. These seats give you the provision to see your infant with a rear-facing window while your baby too can see you and the environment. But make sure you use seat-belts and lap-belts correctly. 

Some parents prefer to use convertible seats for better usability.

  • Convertible seats can accommodate a child from birth to up to 80 pounds weight. Thus it saves more money than buying different seats for different weight groups.
  • This is also a good option for grown-up babies. They can use it even after they have crossed the stipulated weight-barrier.

Car seats and restraints thus are very useful in keeping the baby safe while traveling. But keep one thing in mind, children get bored and become fussier during long journeys. So keep them engaged with talks or give them a little more attention. Make sure that they do not open or play with the belt and fasten the belt perfectly every time the child tries to open it. Children very often try to open car doors. Use a child-lock for better security. Your little steps can save your child from mishaps. Happy journey, folks!


Purvi Kothari founder of shishulife is a mother of one beautiful girl and growing her well giving her experience on how to tackle the kids.  She holds a degree in MBA and CS and currently pursuing PhD in business communication. Apart from writing a blog in shishulife her worlds revolve around photography, family, and baking.

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