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How do you prevent children's heads falling forward if they go to sleep in the child seat during long journeys?

¿Cómo evitar que la cabeza se caiga si el niño se queda dormido en la sillita en los viajes largos?

28/08/2018

Summer vacations are a time of long car journeys in the search for a favorite holiday destination. The majority of long journeys are undertaken on highways or freeways, roads that are traditionally monotonous to drive on, with long bends that barely alter the forces noted inside the vehicle.

That is the reason why many children (and many passengers) become very relaxed when traveling to the point where many of them fall asleep within the first few kilometers. Depending on the posture they adopt, they will be more or less comfortable, but it is important to be aware of the possibility, once asleep, that their posture will be incorrect and that their head will fall forward onto their chest, leaning forward more than it should.

Tips for avoiding a child's head leaning too far forward when sleeping during a long journey depends on their age, as would appear logical.

Small babies and newborns

Very small babies sleep for many hours of the day and it is certain they will do so when going on a journey. The fact is that, while the child seat is perfectly suited to the baby's physical characteristics and offers the best protection in the event of an accident, it is not the best place to sleep, especially when talking about the Maxi Cosi variety. 

Cases of postural asphyxiation may occur with very small babies, or else adopting a posture that restricts the correct movement of the chest and abdomen, which amounts to the same thing. If, additionally, the head is leaning over the chest, the baby might have its airflow obstructed and run a severe risk of asphyxiation. That is why it is recommended for them not to spend more than an hour and a half, two maximum in the child seat and even less if they are sleeping. It is also essential to check that their initial posture is perfect before setting off. 

Children that travel in Group 1 child seats

Children able to use Group 1 child seats with five-point harnesses and a more upright position usually travel with the correct posture and also already have the strength to sit upright without assistance and maintain their posture over a long period. However, when they fall asleep it is very easy for them to let their head fall forwards. This is not only uncomfortable but can also restrict their breathing, so it is important to bear a few little tricks in mind.

Firstly, knowing that it is very likely that the child will fall asleep during the journey, it is best to set off with the seat already reclined. That way it makes it more difficult for the head to fall into an uncomfortable position. You can also purchase an appropriate cervical cushion suited to the size of the child, especially if the child seat does not offer sufficient lateral support for their head.

For older children who use Group 2 or 3 child seats

In these cases, although we are talking about older children (around five years old) many child seats have a limited reclining capacity as they are usually fixed to the car seat. We are talking about booster seats with back rests, the safest ones. As these types of seats use the car seat belt to support them, the body is less restrained and it is more likely that the child's head will fall forward when sleeping.  Depending on the brand, there are various solutions for avoiding this, allowing the seat's reclining angle to be increased so that the child's head is supported by the headrest and does not fall forwards.

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