You won’t be able to leave the hospital without transporting your new baby in a safe infant car seat, but what if your baby was born premature, or before 37 weeks? Will a typical infant car seat work for such a small baby?
Because preemies are at risk for low oxygen levels, slow heart rate (bradycardia) or stopping breathing (apnoea), the AAP recommends that infants weighing less than 4 pounds, 4 ounces undergo a car seat challenge test to ensure they can safely and healthfully ride home. Ideally, the hospital will use the car seat you have purchased for your infant to test your baby’s ability to ride safely in it.
To do the car seat challenge, your newborn will be buckled into her or his infant car seat. The seat will be positioned at the same angle as it would be in the car and monitors will be used to measure your baby’s heart and breathing rates, as well as oxygen saturation. The test usually lasts 90 minutes but can take up to 120 minutes.
The test will be stopped early should baby encounter any problems and your healthcare providers may recommend that you purchase and use a special flat-lying infant car bed, which will allow your baby to lay fully extended while being protected during transportation. If your baby requires the use of a car bed, the AAP advises that he or she undergo a car seat challenge test again when transitioning to a semi-upright infant car seat.
Always choose a rear facing car seat with a 3-point harness system or convertible car seat with a 5-point harness for your infant. Other key recommendations include:
Healthy & Happy: Tips on Preventing Preterm Birth Nurses give advice on what you can do to help prevent your baby from being born too early.
Consider Group Prenatal Care Group prenatal care is a great way to connect with other pregnant couples
Premature Expectations What to expect when your baby is born premature