Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Car Seats for Your Premature Baby

Main Content

Learning About Car Seats for Your Premature Baby

What car seats are safe?

Rear-facing car seats are the safest option for most premature babies. These car seats support babies so they can ride safely in the car. It's safest to use a rear-facing seat until your baby is the top weight or height allowed by the car seat maker.

Some premature babies can't ride in a car seat without slouching over. This can cause a problem with oxygen supply and make it harder to breathe. In rare cases, babies might need a special bed for the car. Your doctor may do a car seat test to see what works best for your baby.

Convertible car seats are not recommended for premature babies, who are often smaller than full-term babies.

How can you make sure your baby is safe in a car?

Before you can take your premature baby home from the hospital, you may need to take special steps for safe car travel. These tips can help make sure your baby travels safely.

  • Make sure the car seat is the right fit for your baby.

    Buy a car seat that's recommended for your baby's weight and height. If your baby can't ride in a car seat without slouching over, there are other options. Ask your doctor what's best for your baby.

  • Don't dress your baby in thick layers.

    Thick layers can compress in a crash. This may leave the car seat straps too loose to protect your baby. Babies should be dressed in thin layers before being strapped into the car seat. If needed, wrap a blanket or coat around your baby and the straps of the car seat.

  • Place your baby's car seat in the middle of the back seat of the car.

    This is the safest place in the car for all children. Never place your baby's car seat in the front seat of any vehicle. Follow the maker's instructions for how to install the car seat.

  • Store devices away from the car seat.

    Your baby may be sent home with extra oxygen or a monitor. Store these devices on the floor and under the vehicle seat.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.