Car Seats and Head Support: Everything You Need to Know

By Shannon Gurnee
In Baby Products
April 16, 2019
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Today, on Redhead Mom, we’re talking about Car Seats and Head Support: Everything You Need to Know as part of a guest post with CarSeatsMom.com.

Car Seats and Head Support

Have you ever thought about how important it is to support your baby’s head? Ensuring your baby has proper head support at all times during their first few months of life is important.  Proper head support prevents brain damage, neck injuries, and helps keep the baby stable to make them easier to hold. Babies have little control over their movements during their first few months. Newborn inserts, reclining car seats, and convertible car seats all help ensure your baby’s head gets proper support until they can hold up their head without help. In this article we’ll answer the following questions:

  • When should I take the newborn insert out of a car seat?
  • How do I keep the baby’s head up in the car?
  • When can I stop supporting my baby’s head?

 

When can I take the newborn insert out of a car seat? 

If you’ve bought a car seat that has a newborn insert, check the manufacturer’s suggestions. Follow them, and don’t take the newborn insert out of the car seat until the baby reaches the maximum the manufacturer suggests. If you take it out too soon, they may not get the support they need.

How do I keep my baby‘s head up in the car?

It’s important for babies’ heads to stay upright in the car, at least until they can start supporting their own head. The head doesn’t need to be stationary; it can move to the side. It’s important to remember that their airway is very narrow, so they need protection for several months. To make sure their airway stays open, follow the specific instructions for the car seat manufacturer about the proper recline. All rear-facing seats have some way to recline them. Nearly all have an indicator on the seat to show the proper amount of recline.

Reclining the car seat also keeps the baby’s head from slumping forward. This position can cause your baby‘s airway to be blocked. Many convertible car seats are safe in the forward-facing semi-reclined position, as well as in the fully upright position. Also, if the back seats of your vehicle recline, you can use that to recline the car seat even more. Some companies also make forward facing pillows, and others make vests that you can use to keep your baby‘s head upright.

Another important thing you can do to keep your baby’s head up in the car seat is to have a certified technician install the car seat. If you install the car seat yourself, you may end up installing it wrong. Properly-installed car seats reduce injuries from the baby’s head flopping forward. If you’re determined to install the car seat yourself, at least have a certified technician check the car seat to make sure it is properly installed. You can find certified technicians here.

When can I stop supporting my baby‘s head?

Developing strong neck muscles is an important newborn milestone because it allows them to hold their head up. All of your baby’s movement development is based on this milestone; once they can do that, they’ll have an easier time learning other important skills, such as rolling over, crawling and walking. Good head control also helps the baby learn about their world. Understanding developmental milestones in the first few months may help you understand when to stop supporting the baby’s head.

Newborn

When they’re first born, they have weak neck muscles. If you try to make them sit without head support, the head will flop back. You’ll need to use your hands to provide head support at first.

One month old

They may try to pull their head up briefly when they’re lying on their stomach. They might their head slightly to one side before the head falls back to where it was. From around 4 to 12 weeks, they may start raising their head when they’re lying on their stomach, kind of like they’re doing a small push up.

Three months old

They should be able to lift their head and top of the chest up, and use their hands for support when they’re on their stomach. They probably have enough strength to hold their head up when sitting in a car seat by this time.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to wait this long when taking the head support out of a car seat. Take the head support out of a car seat once you feel that they’re able to support their head well enough in the car. This could be as soon as two months old or as late as five months old, or longer.

Car seat buying tips for people who are concerned about head support

When buying a car seat, consider how much you’ll spend on newborn and infant car seats separately, versus how much you’d spend for a convertible car seat that you can remove the headrest from when your child no longer needs it. If your budget allows, and you don’t want to spend more on a larger car seat later, consider buying a convertible car seat with a removable headrest. No matter what kind you buy, make sure the headrest is adjusted to the correct position for your baby‘s head.

These are three things you should consider concerning had support in the car. When looking at car seats, you’ll need to decide if you’re willing to pay extra for a larger car seat when your baby’s head no longer needs support. If not, you’ll have to purchase a car seat you can remove the headrest from once they no longer need it. You may also want to consider how difficult it will be to install the car seat and look into technicians. If you’re not willing to hire one, look for a car seat that’s easier to install. You may want to ask friends or family members for recommendations. If you follow the suggestions in this article, your baby’s head and neck will stay supported in the car until they can hold their head up on their own.

This article was brought to you by CarSeatsMom.com

About Has 1681 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

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