Grieving Mom Warns of Dangers: Don’t Let Your Child Sleep In a Car Seat

sleep in a car seat
Screen shot, WFAA

Lisa Smith was at work one day three years ago, when she received “the worst call of my life,” she says. It was her child’s day care provider, saying to “drop everything,” and that Smith’s daughter, 18-month old Mia “didn’t wake up from her nap.” Through tears, Smith shared Mia’s story with Texas news station WFAA. It’s a story, she says, that she shares as often as she can: don’t let your child sleep in a car seat. You see, Mia would still be alive today if the day care provider hadn’t put her down for a nap in a car seat. Mia’s official cause of death was “positional asphyxia,” a suffocation that happens when a person’s breathing is restricted by their bodily position.

Many parents don’t know that it’s dangerous for a child to sleep in a car seat

Sharon Evans, a trauma injury prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s Hospital, told the news station unequivocally that no child should be allowed to sleep in a car seat when they aren’t in the car. “There’s nothing about the car seat that’s designed to sleep,” she said. If the car seat straps are not tight, or if they aren’t fastened at all, a child can slump down while sleeping and cut off their airway. When asked how many parents don’t know about the dangers of letting their child sleep in a car seat, Evans answered, “Probably a lot.”

Lisa Smith now has two young sons who will never know their big sister. As a young mom, she knew the dangers of letting a child sleep in a car seat and did not let Mia nap in one. But her day care provider either didn’t know or didn’t really think it was dangerous.

“She was our first born, our only child, and she didn’t deserve what happened to her,” a still grief-stricken Lisa said. “But other families don’t deserve this to happen to them either.”

Child deaths from being allowed to sleep in a car seat are completely preventable

Lisa said in Mia’s honor, and to prevent other families losing a child, she will go up to total strangers she sees using a car seat in an unsafe way.

“I walk around town and see people using a car seat on the seats at restaurants or putting them on the floor at tables,” she said. “I literally walk up to people and I say, ‘You know, I had a daughter who was seventeen-and-a-half months who passed away and I just want you to be really careful.’”

This mom is on a mission to make sure other families don’t suffer the trauma that she did, because toddler and infant death from being allowed to sleep in a car seat are tragedies that are one hundred percent preventable. Let’s join with her and share Mia’s story, and spread the word about her sweet little life and tragic death, so that no other parent has to feel the pain that Lisa Smith and her family live with every day.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.