Safety advice for when babies fall asleep in a car seat

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A nine-month old baby’s death and a day care provider’s arrest raises an important reminder about car seat safety. We continue to follow the story of 30-year-old Kayla Styles. Police arrested her for the death of a baby boy at her in-home day care in November.

Court papers say the child died when he became tangled in the belt of a car seat while sleeping. Styles told police she had put the child in an upright car seat for a nap because she thought it would be better for his cough. But, when she checked on him later, court papers say the baby boy was dead.

KELOLAND’s Kelli Volk interviewed a woman who says she may have prevented a tragedy of her own after removing her child from the daycare.

KELOLAND News talked with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue and a mother of two. They are not commenting on this case, but they’re talking about what to do when babies fall asleep in car seats.

Jessica Meuzelaar does her homework.

“I’m just paranoid in general, because there are so many horror stories on social media of all these kids dying of all these fluke things,” Meuzelaar said.

Her baby daughter, Willa, is one year old and often goes on errands with mom. Though Meuzelaar prefers she doesn’t nap in her car seat, as you can see, it sometimes happens when they’re in the car.

“I have a mirror in there where I can see her. So, I’m a little paranoid about making sure she’s breathing,” Meuzelaar said.

Health officials say a car seat is not a safe place for a baby to sleep when that seat is not in a vehicle.

“The thing about an infant sleeping in a car seat, you want to be paying attention. Even if you’re driving,” Division Chief Steve Fessler, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, said.

Fessler says whenever your child is in a car seat, make sure all of the buckles are fastened properly and have a snug fit.

“They’re meant to be all together. They’re, the chest harness and the lower buckle. It’s all meant to be that way,” Fessler said.

Though bulky coats are a don’t, Fessler says light jackets are okay as long as the straps are secure. Meuzelaar also says the position of the car seat is important to prevent strangulation, that’s why she the level on her car seat.

“This is the correct position for them to sit in so they don’t slump forward and get their airway cutoff when they fall asleep,” Meuzelaar said.

These are just a few things this mom does when she brings baby Willa with her, so they can spend precious time together.

“I’m already kind of sad, because the first year is already gone so fast,” Meuzelaar said.

If you need a tutorial on car seat safety, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue will help you.

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