Keep Your Kids Safe While Sleeping In Their Car Booster Seat

How to Keep Your Kids Safe While Sleeping In Their Car Booster Seat

sleep slump and the ridesafer

The sleep slump (and, yes, we stopped to reposition him).

Don’t let the sleep slump ruin car seat safety for your kids.

As parents we’ve all seen it, right? And we cringe at the sleep slump.

Are there car seat safety issues with the sleep slump?

It looks so uncomfortable. And there are safety issues too.

When the children are small and still in a 5-point harness, the child is less likely to get so out of position as to be in increased danger.

most common car seat mistakesBut big kids fall asleep in the car too.

As the child gets older, gets into a booster—or RideSafer as in this case—or even grown enough to be in the vehicle seat belt, what are parents to do?

In this particular case (pictured above), he’s 8-years-old. He was 4’4? tall. If we had left him in this position and gotten into a crash, he likely wouldn’t have fared well, especially in a side-impact as he is right next to the window sill and window.

How Can Kids Sleep Safely In Their Car Seat?

Sleeping in the car can be really uncomfortable but sometimes kids can’t help but succumb to exhaustion and the motion.

One solution to help these older children stay properly positioned in their RideSafer or booster or seat belt is to pull over and switch the seat belt over to automatic locking mode by pulling the shoulder belt all the way out, then letting it back into the seat belt retractor. (You should hear a ratcheting sound and the belt will stay locked instead of having slack in it.)

Note: Some booster seat manufacturers do not allow this and some car manufacturers do not allow this so be sure to read your manuals. The RideSafer manufacturer does allow locking the seat belt while using the vest, when necessary.

Most kids don’t want to ride like this all the time. And since a locked seat belt may potentially increase the risk of injury from submarining, we only suggest locking the seat belt on a child in a belt positioning device or seat belt as a last resort if the child cannot sit properly in the belt without it locked, such as when sleeping. An out of position child could be at greater risk of injury in a crash.

Are Their Products That Make Sleeping In A Car Seat Safe For My Child?

There are some products out there to help keep the child in position as well:

  • Cardiff —The manufacturer calls this the “booster seat headrest.” We like it with the RideSafer too (so much so we offer it on our site). It offers bigger kids (or even adult passengers) a place to rest their heads. It attaches to the vehicle head rest bars and the sides folds up and down and clicks into place. Our kids love it!car pillow
  • Amiba Monsters — These pillows were created by a 9-year-old and his mom to give support and something to hold while sleeping in the car. They are large pillows that rest on the lap and goes up to support the child’s head at the neck. They come in several colorful monster faces and shapes.

One thing we have done in the past too is to recline the rear vehicle seat just a touch, of course only some cars offer this feature, but it sure is handy to at least reduce the forward slump.

We want to know, what do you do when sleep slump happens? Share your comments below.

By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004

Copyright 2014 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.

4 Comments
  • Kay
    Posted at 03:40h, 12 September Reply

    How do I prevent the head slump for a toddler in a rear facing carseat?

    • Amie
      Posted at 11:11h, 12 September Reply

      Hi Kay, Toddlers heads don’t usually slump forward in rear facing seats. We suggest you check the angle of the rear facing seat if your child’s head is slumping forward.

  • Patty Peterson
    Posted at 13:15h, 13 May Reply

    The picture on you site shows a child in a forward facing seat with a head Slumping. How can we prevent this?

    • Amie
      Posted at 15:03h, 14 May Reply

      Hi Patty, The restraint shown is a RideSafer vest and in the article we offer a few prevention ideas. A child in a traditional forward-facing harness seat should have side support for their head when they fall asleep and some you can check if you can change the angle to have a lean back just a touch if it seems your child’s head is falling forward (check the car seat’s owners manual).

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