Lisa Smith's daughter Mia was 17 months old when the mom got the worst call of her life from Mia's babysitter. "Drop everything. Mia didn't wake up from her nap," is what she heard on the other end of the phone three years ago, the day that Mia passed away after being left to nap in her car seat. Now, Lisa is doing everything she can to make sure that no other parent loses their child because of this mistake.
Mia's cause of death was found to be positional asphyxia, which is a result of the body's position blocking the airway, making it difficult to breathe and causing suffocation. "There's nothing about the car seat that's designed to sleep," Sharon Evans, a trauma injury prevention coordinator at Cook Children's Hospital, told WFAA. "Of course, if the straps aren't tight, the child can kind of slump down."
"There's nothing about the car seat that's designed to sleep."
In fact, using a car seat outside of the car at all is one of the most common misuses of car seats. Sarah Tilton, director, Consumer Advocacy, Britax Child Safety, Inc., told POPSUGAR: "A car seat is a safety device to use in the car. . . . Many parents focus on 'Don't wake the sleeping baby,' which unfortunately means they're not thinking about the complications or situations that can result."
To ensure that parents understand the dangers of allowing their children — especially those under 2 — to sleep in their car seats, Lisa isn't afraid to approach unsuspecting parents making the mistake in public. "[Mia] was our firstborn, our only child, and she didn't deserve what happened to her. But other families don't deserve this to happen to them either," she said. "I walk around town and see people using a car seat on the seats at restaurants or putting them on the floor at tables. I literally walk up to people and I say, 'You know, I had a daughter who was 17-and-a-half months who passed away, and I just want you to be really careful.'"
If you are leaving your child in the care of a family member or caregiver, ensure they understand the risks of leaving your child asleep in their car seat, and discuss safe sleep locations — cribs, bassinets, or toddler beds; never bouncers, swings, strollers, or slings — with them.