Grieving Mother Warns Other Parents About Her Toddler’s Fatal Car Seat Nap

"The hardest part is that this was so easily prevented. And we lost a daughter needlessly."
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ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
Nov 2018
mom strapping toddler into car seat
Photo: Getty Images

A brave Iowa mother is sharing the story of her heartbreaking loss so other parents don’t have to know the grief she now lives with.

Lisa Smith’s world came crashing down three years ago when she got a call from her daughter’s daycare letting her know Mia, her toddler, didn’t wake up from her nap, TODAY reports. After an investigation, it was determined Mia died of positional asphyxia. The 17-month-old’s airway was cut off while she slept, partially strapped into her car seat on the floor of her daycare.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time a story like this has surfaced. While positional asphyxiation is avoidable, many parents are unaware of the risks of their baby sleeping in a car seat outside of their vehicle.

Car seats, bouncers, swings, strollers and infant carriers are not deemed safe places for babies to sleep for extended periods of time. “Because they still have poor head control and often experience flexion of the head while in a sitting position, infants…in sitting devices might be at increased risk of upper airway obstruction and oxygen desaturation,” the AAP warns. Baby laying flat on its back is the doctor-approved safe sleeping position.

“When a car seat is in the car, it’s reclined at 45 degrees. This allows the baby’s head and neck to rest backwards so that it’s not slumped forward and blocking the airway,” Dr. Natalie Azar tells TODAY. “Most new parents will hear that they should never wake a sleeping baby, but in the situation of your baby falling asleep in the car seat in the car, transferring them to a safer place, such as a firm mattress or crib, is really the recommended thing to do.”

Smith hopes others will hear her story and learn about the dangers of using a car seat outside of a vehicle.

"The hardest part is that this was so easily prevented. And we lost a daughter needlessly. No family deserves this,” she says.

When used for their intended purpose, car seats are necessary and life-saving. Learn more about car seat safety tips to keep your baby safe on the road.

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