Keeping kids safe in their car seats is our main mission. If you’re a parent, it’s probably one of your highest priorities as well! There are plenty of things we can control about our children’s safety in their car seats, but one thing we can’t control is when our kids fall asleep. When your child is sleeping in the car seat, their head can fall forward in a potentially dangerous position. 

As a parent conscience of car seat safety, knowing what to do to prevent this issue can be challenging. So, we’re sharing a guide to handling car seat head slumps from the experts here at Safe in the Seat. Here’s what to do:

What to do When Baby’s Head Falls Forward in Car Seat 

Determine if the head slump is a problem. 

Before you go any further, consider if your child’s head flopping forward is a problem. If your child can sit up and support their head on their own, their slumping head in the car seat isn’t a cause for concern (as long as their car seat is installed properly and the child is harnessed properly). So, for front-facing kids and even many rear-facing children, head slump isn’t a problem. 

However, if you have an infant who isn’t able to sit unassisted, a head slump could cause positional asphyxia. This is why children in infant car seats should not sleep in their seats outside the base. So, if your rear-facing child’s head is falling forward before they can sit up, you’ll need to find a solution.  

Ensure the car seat is installed properly. 

Before you look for other fixes, ensure your car seat is installed properly. Specifically, look at the recline positions appropriate for your child’s age and size. If the manual approves a more reclined position for your child, adjust the angle accordingly. Your seat may even allow a rolled towel or pool noodle for extra recline, always double-check the manual! If your infant can lean back more, this will likely fix the issue! 

However, there could be other issues with your child’s car seat installation. Double-check the requirements for the infant padding, and ensure your child hasn’t outgrown it. We also find it helpful to remove the head inserts whenever allowed. Also, please confirm that you position the harness straps just below the shoulder and fasten the chest clip at the armpits. Here are more common car seat mistakes that may be contributing to the poor fit. 

Ensure the proper position of the harness.

Are you properly harnessing your newborn in their infant car seat? Once your baby is clicked into the infant base in the car, make sure to double-check the infant car seat harness for proper positioning! Straps should come from right at or below their shoulder, buckled in correctly, and at the proper recline. This is important to keep them safe in a car crash and to keep their airways open.

Proper Harness Position

Don’t use any aftermarket parts. 

Aftermarket head supports feel like a good solution to your baby’s head-slumping issue, but these items are extremely dangerous. In a crash, anything around or behind your child’s head and neck could increase the risk of injury or death. Only approved items from the manufacturer can go on your car seat. As a general rule, you should not attach anything to your car seat if it doesn’t come in the car seat box.

Don’t hold your child’s head upright.

Another way parents try to fix the head slump issue is by holding their baby’s head up. This seems harmless enough, however, this puts your body inside your child’s car seat space. In a car accident, this would be a safety risk, because of the potential for your limbs to collide with your child’s body. 

Consider a new car seat. 

If you’ve fixed the car seat installation problem, and your baby’s head is still falling forward, it might be time to consider a new seat. Some infant car seats and rear-facing car seats have limited recline positions, which prevents you from getting the proper angle. Additionally, some car seats with no-rethread straps can push your child’s head forward. Opting for a seat with traditional rethread harness straps may fix the problem. 

Here’s a list of our favorite infant car seats and convertible car seats

Car seat head slumps can be fixed with these tips. 

It’s scary when your infant’s head falls forward in the car seat. However, you can remedy the problem (if it is a problem at all) by adjusting your car seat and confirming you have a good fit. For more on sleep safety in car seats and other vehicle safety information, browse the Safe in the Seat blog

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