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8 Car Seat Essentials for Preemies

If you've given birth to a preemie, you'll need to take special considerations are necessary to ensure his safe transportation. Small infants in car safety seats need to be positioned in a way that can protect baby's respiratory system, while providing protection in the event of a crash or sudden stop.

Here are some specific guidelines for preemie car seat safety:

1. Choose an infant-only car safety seat with a three-point harness system, or a convertible car safety seat with a five-point harness. These systems provide optimum comfort, fit, and positioning for the premature or small infant. A preemie should not be placed in a car safety seat with a shield, abdominal pad, or arm rest that could come into direct contact with his face and neck during an impact. Similarly, car safety seats designed for use only by children who weigh more than 20 pounds should not be used for small infants.

2. Use a car safety seat with a distance of less than 5 1/2 inches from the crotch strap to the seat back. This reduces the potential for baby to slump forward. Try using a small rolled diaper or blanket between the crotch strap and the infant to reduce slouching.

3. Choose a car safety seat with a distance of less than 10 inches from the lower harness strap to the seat bottom. This reduces the potential for harness straps to cross the infant's ears.

4. Position the baby in the car safety seat with his back flat against the back of the seat. You can place rolled blankets on both sides of him to provide lateral support for his head and neck.

5. In rear-facing car safety seats for infants, set shoulder straps in the lowest slots until the infant's shoulders are above the slots. Make sure the harness is snug, and the car safety seat's retainer clip is positioned at the midpoint of the infant's chest -- not on the abdomen or in the neck area.

6. Recline the seat halfway back, at a 45-degree tilt. You can wedge a firm roll of cloth or newspaper under the car safety seat below the baby's feet to achieve this angle.

7. Don't place a rear-facing car safety seat in the front passenger seat of any car equipped with a passenger-side front air bag. All infants weighing less than 20 pounds and younger than 1 year of age must ride rear facing when secured in standard car safety seats.

8. Never leave an infant unattended in a car safety seat.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.