LONE TREE, Colo. (CBS4) – Many parents think a car seat is one of the safest places for a baby. But in 2015, the Journal of Pediatrics reported there were at least 47 deaths over a four year period due to infants sleeping in their car seats outside of the car.

(credit: GoFundMe/Eliyah Faith Deal Memorial)

A GoFundMe page has been growing to help pay for the funeral of a baby girl from Denver who died on Feb. 15. The family of 18-month-old Eliyah Deal said she was asleep in the seat when her head tilted to the left against the strap and she slowly lost oxygen.

At Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, new parents are offered a free course in car seat safety. CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh sat in on a recent session. The ‘dos and don’ts’ were surprising to Julie and Joey Allen who were preparing to take 2-day-old Annie home.

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Before Annie was put in her seat, cute toys hanging from the handle came off.

“Most of the time car seat manufacturers don’t want you to attach things to the seat that didn’t come with it,” said Camie Willes.

Willes is a Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor. The next thing she told the Allens to remove were strap covers.

“Soft and fluffy things next to your baby’s face, because they will kind of put their face right there, can actually trap air,” Willes explained. “You don’t want them to re-breathe their exhaled air.”

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“Didn’t know about them,” said Joey Allen.

Much of what the new parents learned was surprising. Willes told them to take off Annie’s little coat.

“It’s one layer of clothing (on a child in a car seat),” Willes said.

The Allens learned how best to buckle Annie in and never to cover the seat completely.

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“You’ve got to have a space for them to get fresh air,” Willes said.

Willes warned a baby should spend just two hours tops in the car seat in the car and should be taken out at home.

“I didn’t know anything about a duration in the car seat. After a few hours, they may not be able to breathe as well,” said a surprised Joey.

“I’ve been doing this for 22 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a parent that knew that,” said Willes.

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Installing the seat was also an education.

“Nice positive click when that goes into the base,” Willes demonstrated.

“Makes you feel safer,” said Joey after the safety course.

The Allens headed home a little overwhelmed, but ready to tackle parenthood! In addition to car seats, other sitting or carrying devices, such as swings or bouncers, are not safe sleeping places for a baby.

The experts say think “ABC” when you think about babies and safe sleep.

A – Babies should sleep alone.

B – Babies should sleep on their backs.

C – Babies should sleep in a crib.

LINK: Colorado Car Seat Safety Page

Kathy Walsh


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