Many of us have been there. Your baby finally falls asleep in the car and you carry their bucket seat inside, debating whether or not to risk waking them up by moving them. However, the safest course of action is known- for many years now we have heard warnings that letting your baby sleep in the car seat is incredibly dangerous.
Although a car seat is very safe for your baby while being driven around in a vehicle, it is unsafe and can be deadly for your baby when it is used in lieu of a crib while at home. Today cited a study that found that 63% of infant deaths that occurred in seating devices happened in car seats. The stated that of those deaths, only a very small percentage occurred while the child was secured in the car seat while driving. Most of the reported deaths occurred in the home while the child was left in the car seat and unsupervised by the care provider.
According to Today's sources, the risk of using a car seat as a sleeping device is theorized as posing more of a risk due to the positioning and the presence of other components in the child's area, such as safety padding. Recommended infant sleep devices are to be clear of padding and loose items that can pose a suffocation risk, such as pillows and blankets. Additionally, they are meant to be laid in flat position.
Although the car seat is not recommended as a place for sleep, it is the safest place for your infant in a moving vehicle. Once not driving, the safest place for your baby is somewhere else. If your child falls asleep in the car seat while driving this is fine, however when the vehicle stops they should be moved to a safe sleeping area such as a crib. If you or someone you know chooses to ignore the risk and allows the baby to sleep in a car seat while out of vehicle, it is recommended that you check on them frequently and ensure that they are not left unsupervised.
Ultimately the safest thing to do for your child is to follow the recommendations for pediatric safety, and use the car seat for driving, and sleep devices for sleeping.