Babies Facing Car Seat Injuries for Accidents Outside of the Car, Study Shows

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Keep car seats in the car. Credit: Getty Images

You know the importance of buckling up your babies each time you load them up in the car, but car seats might not be safe everywhere.
New research shows almost 9,000 infants are sent to the emergency room every year due to head and neck injuries resulting from car seat-related injuries that actually occurred outside the vehicle.

In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, two doctors from the orthopedics division of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center looked at five years worth of data from a national U.S. surveillance system. They found a majority of the infants taken to the hospital for car seat injuries were hurt because they were no longer strapped in their car seats or because the seat was put on a table, counter or shopping cart and fell off.

The news comes as no surprise to Hal Runkel, a licensed family therapist and bestselling author of the book "ScreamFree Parenting."

"While it's fascinating to learn how many car seat accidents are happening, it's not terribly surprising," he tells ParentDish. "The truth is that parents are so overtaxed physically and emotionally these days, it makes sense that they would look for small shortcuts, like leaving a baby in the seat on a table, wherever they can."

Runkel says he finds it interesting that using a safety device for purposes other than for which it was designed is causing numerous incidents.

"I believe these findings simply punctuate what we already know: Parenting is difficult, and it demands we be at our best," he says. "Unfortunately, we parents are making it more so by over-scheduling ourselves, believing the lies about having and doing more, more, more and neglecting to take care of ourselves in healthy ways -- ways that actually help us be more present, more attentive and less in a hurry."

The study concludes that many of these accidents happened because parents are under the assumption that babies can't move, since they have yet to develop good coordination. To avoid a trip to the ER, experts urge parents to never leave babies unattended if they are in car seats and always keep them buckled up.

Related: Infants Shouldn't Sleep in Car Seats, Study Says

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.