One of the first things you learn as a new parent is how you have to support your baby’s head. Supporting your baby’s head is important to help them avoid injury.
Car seats are no exception to this rule, and can come with head supports for your child.
After a while, you may begin to wonder when to remove the head support, and if it’s even necessary. We’ve compiled information to help you determine when to safely remove your child’s head support, so look below!
Car Seat Head Support Safety
Car seat head support safety is a very important topic for all parents to consider. Your baby’s head needs support as soon as they are born because they do not have developed neck muscles. This means your infant is at risk if they can’t breathe because of a bad head position.
The most dangerous head position for an infant under 1 year old is with their head forward against their chest. In this position, your infant’s airways are nearly closed. Since their neck muscles aren’t developed, they aren’t strong enough to lift their head and breathe.
Surprisingly, this forward, chin-down position is the one most parents are inclined to put their child in inside the car!
The Safest Position
In a car seat, the safest position is with your child’s head turned to one side. Many parents are unaware that their baby breathes the easiest in this position. A forward-facing baby is also safe, as long as their head stays back and not to their chest!
Head supports aren’t actually necessary for car seats at all. Your car seat is designed to protect your child’s head in a crash on its own.
The only reason they are included is to help your child’s head wobble less as they grow their neck muscles. They also provide a soft place for your infant to rest their cheek. They are there to provide support only, no additional protection.
Never Restrict Baby’s Head Movement
Head supports should also never restrict your baby’s head movement. This doesn’t allow your baby’s neck strength to grow, and may restrict them to an uncomfortable or dangerous position.
With this in mind, many parents seek head support that keeps their baby’s head straight. This isn’t necessary, and may even cause your baby’s head to flop forward—which is dangerous.
You should avoid using any baby car seat head supports that aren’t included with your seat. This is because other baby car seat head supports may obstruct the effectiveness of the seat.
Always contact your manufacturer before adding other products to your car seat.
Another thing to consider is the recline of your baby. If your baby isn’t reclined enough, their head can fall forward, with or without a head support. Always recline your baby’s seat following manufacturer directions.
Baby Must Rest Easy
In general, your baby’s seat should be reclined to the point that your child’s head rests easily on the seat. Your baby’s rump to the top of their head should be a straight line. For very young babies, this may mean you have to recline the seat as far as it can go.
Overall, head supports aren’t necessary, but can be added if your child’s head wobbles or they need extra support. Supports shouldn’t be added to straighten your child’s head, and should never push your child’s head towards their chest.
Baby Car Seat Head Support Safety DOs:
- Use head support that allows your child’s head to turn to the side.
- Make sure your baby’s head is in line with their spine and rump.
- Use head support provided by your manufacturer.
- Recline your seat to the manufacturer’s directed angle.
Baby Car Seat Head Support Safety DON’Ts:
- Use head supports to position your baby’s head forward.
- Buy a head supports that restrict your baby’s head movement
- don’t use head support that is not manufacturer-approved.
Infant/Baby Car Seat Head Support
Supporting your infant or baby’s head properly is so important for car seat usage. Infants need head support from birth until they have good control of their head. This does not mean that infant car seat head supports are necessary, though.
Excessive Wobbles Not A Good Sign
Your infant or baby may need car seat head support if their head wobbles excessively in the seat. If your child can lay comfortably, with their head to the side, you probably don’t need a head support.
Head supports are designed to be a comfortable place your child can rest their cheek. They should never be used to restrict an infant’s movement, or keep their head directed forward.
This puts them at risk of their chin falling forward, which would make it difficult to breathe!
If you keep the support installed for head wobbling, you may be able to remove it at 3 months old. For other children, it may take until 5 months or longer. It all depends on your child’s ability to control their head.
Indication of Good Head Control
A solid indication of good head control is when your baby can lift their chest and head up. This is usually done resting on their stomach and using their hands for support. If they can hold this position and not fall immediately back down, your child may be strong enough.
Manufacturers usually don’t list when you can remove the head support in a car seat. This is because the support isn’t really necessary to the function of the car seat. Usually, children that needed the extra support are ready around 5 to 6 months old.
Infant car seat head supports should always allow them to breathe properly. This means that your baby should be able to turn their head side to side easily. You should avoid head supports that restrict your child’s head movement.
Infant car seat head supports that don’t come with your car seat may pose some health risks to your child. They may push the head forward too much, not allow for movement, or even inhibit the car seat’s effectiveness. Always use supports that come with the car seat before others.
If you have a head support that you would like to use, you can always contact your seat’s manufacturer and check if the product is safe. They will be able to tell you if you can use the attachment or not.
You Can Remove The Head Support For Infants When:
- The baby has good head control.
- Your baby outgrows the head support.
- For most babies it is around 3 to 5 months old.
Toddler Head Support
Toddler car seat head support pillows aren’t necessary. Toddlers are strong enough to hold their heads up and control them easily, unlike infants.
Toddlers that sleep chin forward are actually not at risk for airway blockage, unlike infants! Even though it is difficult to breathe in this position, your child is strong enough to lift their head up.
Many children do this in their sleep when their body senses the discomfort.
Another thing to note is that if your child looks uncomfortable, they may not actually be uncomfortable. Children are naturally more flexible, and find some of the oddest positions to sleep in. This doesn’t usually hurt them or result in any pain either!
So, adding a toddler car seat head support isn’t absolutely necessary. This means that you are free to customize, depending on what your child’s needs may be.
Always consult your manufacturer before adding a toddler car seat head support pillow for safety. Some toddler car seat head support pillows may be too large or cause the seat to work incorrectly. The manufacturer will be able to tell you if the pillow will obstruct how the seat works or not.
If your child experiences neck pain, it may be time to get a car seat head support.
Toddler Support Pillows Are:
- Not necessary for your child.
- Only needed if your child reports neck pain.
- Important to clear with your manufacturer prior to installing in your car seat.
Child Head Support Video
There are a variety of head supports for car seats available outside of ones that come from the manufacturer. If you pick one out, always give your manufacturer a call to make sure it’ll work with your seat.
Always be extra careful when choosing a head support for your infant or baby. Never pick one that pushes your child’s head to their chest, as they won’t be able to breathe properly. Also, avoid ones that could fall behind their head and push their head forward.
The best head support for car seats have room for your baby’s head to lay comfortably to the side. These would be flat enough for your child to move their head, but also prevent excessive wobbling.
A head support is only necessary when your child’s head excessively wobbles. You may also get one if you feel that your child needs a soft place to lay their head. Head support for car seats is not necessary otherwise.
Keep in mind that head supports do not add protection against a crash. Many parents believe this and order very fluffy head supports that put their children at risk. These head supports can interfere with the way the car seat works if they are unapproved by the manufacturer.
Your car seat is designed to protect the baby’s head, and has internal components that prevent injury. The head support is only there for support, not added protection.
A Good Head Support Will
- Not push your baby’s head forward.
- Be flat enough for your baby’s head to move around easily.
- Be supportive enough to prevent excessive wobbling.
- Have come with the car seat, or is approved by the manufacturer of your car seat.
Graco Car Seat Head Support
Many Graco car seats come with head support included, such as the SnugRide series. These Graco infant car seat head supports are designed to provide support that doesn’t inhibit the car seat’s effectiveness.
Graco infant car seat head support pillows are removable, but Graco does not specify when you can remove them. Generally, you can remove these pillows when your child can support their head well. This is around 3 to 5 months old.
With your newborn, you may want to leave the Graco infant car seat head support installed. This gives your baby enough support to avoid excessive wobbling while they are developing their strength.
Always make sure that your Graco car seat is reclined in the proper position so your baby can breathe easily. This is usually when your infant’s rump, spine, neck, and head are all in a straight line. The head will be able to rest comfortably back on the seat.
Graco warns about reclining the seat too much, as this can lead to injury. Always follow Graco’s instructions for recline positions, to make sure your child is as safe as possible.
For older children, Graco car seat head supports are sometimes included, such as in their convertible seats. These supports can be removed at any time, for the comfort of your child. Consult your manual for specific instructions on removal.
Graco Car Seat Head Support At A Glance:
- Many Graco car seats come with removable head support.
- Graco does not specify when to remove the support, but you can generally remove at 3 to 5 months old.
- Always make sure to recline the seat properly for safety.
- Avoid reclining the seat too much, as this is dangerous.
When to remove head support from car seat?
You can remove the head support from your seat when your child is strong enough to hold their head up. This is usually when your child is 3 to 5 months old.
Does infant car seat need head support?
Infant car seats do not need head support because they are built to protect the head. Your child may need a head support if their head excessively wobbles in the seat.
Are car seat head supports safe?
Car seat head supports are safe if used properly. They should never push the child’s head forward or restrict movement of the head.
How do I keep my baby’s head up in the car?
The easiest way is to recline your seat until their head rests comfortably in the seat. Car seat head supports can be used for added support.
Head Support is Crucial
Car seat head supports are a very common car seat accessory. Choosing the right support is important, especially in the car when you may not have access to your child immediately.
Car seat head supports aren’t necessary, and you should always follow your manufacturer’s rules when using one.
We hope that the information we’ve provided helps you to know when to remove your car seat’s head support! Even though it is not part of car seat laws, we still recommend it highly.