How to prevent the child's head from falling forward or to the side

When we travel by road and our son falls asleep in his chair, it is common for his little head to hang forward or to the side , tumbling with each bump or curve, and causing neck discomfort.

In order to avoid discomfort during the journey, many parents resort to devices to support the child’s head and prevent it from falling, but is it a safe practice? Is there anything we can do to improve her posture? We clarify all the doubts in this article.

Be very careful with non-approved devices!

Bands that hold the child’s forehead against the back of the chair, preventing the head from sagging, lateral head restraints, wedges to recline the chair… there are several products that we find on the market that offer solutions to this problem that is so common when we travel on the highway. But is any accessory safe?

To begin with, we must bear in mind the importance of guaranteeing the safety of the child when traveling by car, using approved devices and never using any accessory that may interfere with the proper functioning of the seat or with the movement that the body should make in the event of a crash. sudden deceleration or impact .

In this sense, Fundación Mapfre warns us of the danger that a child traveling with their head completely upright and restrained can pose, because in the event of sudden braking, the natural forward movement of the neck and head is prevented, potentially causing serious injuries. In addition, there is also a risk that the device slips off and remains at neck height, causing even fatal injuries.

For this reason, Mapfre’s road safety experts advise “being very demanding” when buying this type of device, and making sure not only that they are approved, but also that they are suitable for our child’s seat

“There are various accessories and devices on the market that promise to maintain a correct head posture in the event that children fall asleep in the car. The offer is varied, but we can find many of these devices that, at least , they are in a situation of ‘alegality’ . This means that they are devices that may not comply with part of the regulations and, therefore, should be avoided”.

“Most of the accessories that are sold in general stores, except where otherwise indicated, have not been approved according to the European regulations ECE R44/04 or ECE R129, so their safety cannot be guaranteed ” – we can read in this article on the safety of accessories for children to travel comfortably. Check out more interesting articles on our site Zanaee.

“The appropriate thing is to avoid any risk and acquire these accessories and devices in the original store of the brand of child car seats . In this way it will not only be approved, but it will be compatible with the safety of the seat”.

Thus, experts advise purchasing only those products that have official certificates and that are recommended by the manufacturer itself, because only in this way can we guarantee that the devices will not harm the safety of the child on the road or affect the proper functioning of the seat in the car. what trip.

Chair tilt helps maintain proper head posture

The best option to ensure a correct posture when the child is in his seat is to play with its inclination, always taking into account the physiological needs of the child , the characteristics of the seat and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

In this sense, some chair brands allow various reclining positions of the backrest to ensure greater comfort for the child, and others also sell wedges or inclination adapters to install on the seat. But it is important to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and bear in mind that an excessive inclination of the chair could be harmful in the event of an accident, as the Mapfre Foundation warns.

In addition, in the case of babies traveling in a Group 0 we have to be very careful with the reclining of their seat and the posture in which they travel, because due to low muscle tone, their heads tend to fall forward more easily than in older children, it can obstruct the airways due to postural asphyxia. Hence the importance of making short journeys or frequent stops every hour and a half or two hours at the most.

What if the chair cannot recline?

But in the case of Group II/III chairs that are already positioned in favor of the march, the inclination of the backrest is not always possible, and when it is, the reclining degrees are very scarce, since its backrest is directly against the back of the car seat. For this reason, it is more common for the child’s head to hang down when he travels in these child restraint systems.

In these cases, experts advise opting for seats that have good lateral ears, which in addition to offering greater protection in the event of side impacts, also offer greater comfort.

However, in addition to adjusting the width of the headrest , as long as the chair allows it (refer to the manufacturer’s manual), we will try to increase its degree of inclination so that the head falls backwards when the child falls asleep, instead of hanging forward. .

Fundación Mapfre also recommends the use of cervical cushions that help keep the neck in a proper posture, avoiding shaking of the head and the pain caused by poor posture. But it is important to choose good quality cushions, made of hypoallergenic materials and that allow them to be inflated to measure or attached to the passenger’s neck in a personalized way.

But in addition to these tips, experts remind us that the best way to protect the child’s neck, head and back is to travel rear-facing for as long as possible or at least until the age of four, always in seats approved for the size and child’s weight . This posture not only guarantees greater protection in the event of an accident, but also greater comfort thanks to an optimal degree of reclining, always in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.