Car Seat Add-Ons More Dangerous Than Supportive, Injury Prevention Experts Say

Photo: (Photo : Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Evenflo)

Car seat add-ons to help babies stay upright and comfortable even if they fall asleep might be more dangerous than supportive. Injury prevention experts tell parents not to waste money on these accessories any longer.

Parents put car seat add-ons, like headbands or straps, when they see their older babies slumped in their position. Parents think these car seat accessories could help their babies sit better when they are worried about positional asphyxiation or air obstruction.

However, Erin Baughn of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital told Today that these add-ons aren't necessary. She said that children are "completely safe," even if their head appears to be dropping forward, especially if they are at an age when they can properly control their neck and head. Positional asphyxiation also rarely happens to kids who have adequate head and neck support.

Another injury expert at the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Courtney Gleaton, also doesn't recommend car seat add-ons. She said that anything that did not come with the equipment and wasn't provided by the manufacturer must not be used, knowing that every car seat model has "very specific instructions and warnings."

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Risks of Headbands or Straps

Baughn added that headbands or straps would prevent the car seat from performing as intended, especially during accidents. A baby with its head strapped on his car seat could acquire more injuries, such as strangulation or decapitation.

Lorrie Walker of the Safe Kids Buckle Up Program is also not a fan of the forehead sling. She echoed Baughn's advice that using these straps may put babies more at risk during a crash. She told Romper that car seats are designed to allow the child to move his head and neck freely as the car absorbs the impact.

The headband might also slide down and cover the baby's nose or mouth, causing suffocation. The straps, on the other hand, are a choking hazard.

The experts also said that, more than anything else, car seats must be age-appropriate because this equipment is specially designed for the baby's age. Thus, newborn baby car seats have a different shape and installation requirements than car seats for older babies.

It's also important for parents to install the seats correctly and securely. If they have trouble with the installation, they can go to a baby store and seek assistance from a child passenger safety technician. They may also locate the nearest certified Safe Kids tech in their area.

Car Seat Recall

Meanwhile, car seat manufacturer Dorel has announced a recall of over 83,000 units of its Maxi-Cosi Pria 85, citing that its design doesn't protect larger kids in a crash. According to the reports, children weighing more than 65 pounds could suffer head injuries if they're strapped in the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 in a forward-facing position.

Testing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that the Dorel car seat couldn't restrain the test dummy, which means that the design didn't conform with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) for a child restraint system.

Child safety engineer Emily Thomas reminded parents that this recall shows the importance of using top tether straps, which are "effective at preventing forward movement" of the child on a car seat.

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