Is Car Seat Safe for Newborn Spine? Learn How to Use them Safely

Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to use a car seat safely for your newborn baby’s spine.

As babies’ spines stay in the development phase, it’s important to position them properly, and that’s what I’m here to help you with.

So, is car seat safe for newborn spine?

Car seats are alright for carrying babies in a car, but a lot of people make the mistake of using them for too long. I can’t stress this enough; a child’s car seat is not designed for prolonged use and can affect the development of your baby’s spine.

There are certain ways in which one can make the usage of portable car seats for carrying young babies much safer. For instance, placing the seat on the center rear seat will keep the baby 43% safer than placing him on the sides. (source)

Scroll down to find other ideas that’ll help make the car seat much safer for your baby.

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Are Car Seats Safe for Newborn Spine?

Baby carrier car seats are designed to keep your baby safe during a car ride. However, it’s not perfect for the baby’s spinal development.

In the initial months of the baby’s development, the spine remains in a “C” shape. The shape and curve of the spine change as the baby grows. However, a car seat forces the baby to remain in the ‘C’ shape for a long time.

So, keeping the baby strapped in a car seat for long periods can hinder growth and prevent changes. And I know, as a parent, you’ll be concerned by this, and this is why the time kids spend strapped to car seats should be limited.


How Does a Car Seat Affect a Newborn’s Spine?

For the proper growth and development of a child’s spine, parents must know how to position their little ones in the seat. This is why experts recommend parents to put their babies on their bellies during the day.

Carrying infants in a car seat in the wrong position or manner will lead to abnormal muscle tension and even skeletal imbalance. Over time, prolonged usage of vehicle seats can lead to conditions such as scoliosis, hip dysplasia, and even spondylolisthesis.

Moreover, forcing an infant into a sitting position for a long time can affect spinal development and make the spine tilt or curve sideways. If the seat can’t be reclined, the child will be forced to sit uptightly.

This will assert too much pressure on the base of the spine and might deform the lower vertebrae and cause life-long issues. The same goes for the sitting positions in a stroller or a crib.

Apart from these, too much usage of a car seat and wrong positioning can lead to a plethora of other problems for their body and overall health as well.


Position the Baby in a Car Seat Correctly

It’s vital for parents to position their children properly as they don’t have the physical strength to hold their necks and head straight. So, you’ll find most infants flop sideways after some time.

This may develop tension in the spine and hinder their development. Also, this may make breathing difficult. For this reason, you need to ensure proper support and be aware if they’re feeling uncomfortable.

So, here are some tips on positioning your newborn in a car seat.

1. Ensure that the Straps are Snug and Comfortable

The straps should fit snugly on the child. Newborns prefer a certain level of pressure because it makes them feel secure and comfortable in cars.

Also, it will keep the infant from slumping around during the ride. It will also increase the chances of the baby falling asleep in the car.

2.  Recline the Car Seat to a Comfortable Angle

As discussed previously, a completely straight car seat is likely to make the newborn’s head slump forward. This can be prevented by reclining the seat to some extent.

Also, this helps to keep the child’s head in a straight line, thus preventing him from being locked up in a ‘C’ shape.

Tips for Choosing a Safe Baby Car Seat

  • Buy the seat only if it fits the height and weight of your baby
  • Don’t get secondhand car seats, as the quality can be compromised
  • Check if the seat is certified by a reputable organization
  • Get a seat with a 5-point harness system for protection in the event of a crash
  • Check if it has Isofix connectors to easily install the baby carrier in the back seat


Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Should a Newborn Be in a Car Seat?

A newborn baby shouldn’t be put in a car seat for more than 2 hours a day. There’s a risk that this may heavily impact the growth of the newborn’s spine. In fact, it’s safest if you can limit the car seat usage limit to 30 minutes only.

Can a 1-Week Baby Take a Trip in a Car Seat?

Babies can take a trip in a rear-facing car seat when they’re a week old, but it’s recommended not to place them in one. If you must, you can keep them in the seat for 30 minutes maximum.



As you can see, the car seat is safe for a baby’s spine. But it can go wrong if the child isn’t positioned in the proper manner and doesn’t get enough support.

Even with proper positioning, the baby’s spine may still be affected by lengthy usage of baby carriers. So, we highly recommend you follow our positioning strategies and tips to make the usage of car seats as safe as possible for your newborn baby.

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!