If you want to make sure your baby is comfortable in their car seat (even if they are wearing a baby booster) you may have to get creative.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that some car seats can be better than others.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio analyzed data from nearly 8,000 babies in five states over the past three years and found that infant car seats are less prone to problems, such as head injury and neck and back injuries, that might arise from their weight.
They also found that car seats that were fitted with a booster were less likely to be unsafe for babies in the same weight range.
“We found that there was a difference in the relative risks for infants who were born with a head restraint in a car seat compared to those who were not,” lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Miller told ABC News.
“We found infants who had a booster in their seat had a lower risk of developing a head injury, for example.”
Miller and her colleagues conducted their analysis by looking at the impact that head restraint manufacturers and manufacturers’ recommendations had on the infant’s safety.
“In general, we found that manufacturers’ recommended seat belts for babies were associated with a lower incidence of head injuries,” she said.
“That’s not surprising, as many of the manufacturers and their customers have made recommendations that their belts should not be used for infants.”
The study did not compare the safety of car seats in general, but it did compare car seats based on infant height.
In that way, it could help researchers determine if the benefits of a car safety seat for infants were worth the risks.
“If you are an adult and you have a young child and you are in a position to ask, ‘If I don’t have an infant seat, what should I do?’ there is a very good chance that the answer is ‘Get a booster’,” Miller said.
“I have a child who is a 3-month-old.
My first thought is that I should buy a booster,” she continued.
“But when I ask myself that question, I realize I am really missing a critical piece of information.”
A lot of the research into infant car seat safety has focused on children under one year old.
However, Miller said that some of the data is still coming in and the data has been getting better.
“When we start getting data from babies, we get data from very young babies, because we can’t really do this at that age,” she explained.
“So, we are very lucky when we get that data, because our data is getting better and we are getting better at understanding how the body reacts to the different things that we do with the child in the car seat,” Miller said of her research.
Miller said that while there is no evidence to suggest that car seat manufacturers should stop recommending infants in the weight range recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, they can still make the best choice for the child.
“When we’re trying to get our hands on data, we have to make that choice,” she added.
“As we look at the evidence and look at what our data says, I think we are seeing the best choices in terms of the car seats for our babies, but we have a long way to go,” she concluded.