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33% of dads admit they did not feel safe to drive their newborn baby home from hospital.
Bringing your new baby home from the hospital is one of the most exciting but nerve-wracking times of your life – and a time when ultimate safety is key. But new research from Britax has found that a large number of new fathers are driving their new-born baby home from hospital in a potentially dangerous state due to an extreme lack of sleep.
The survey carried out in conjunction with Loughborough University found that more than half (58%) of dads had five or less hours sleep in the 48 hours prior to driving home. New dads might not even consider the dangers of driving with such a small amount of sleep, but sleep deprivation on this level is actually equivalent to driving at well over the legal drink drive limit*.
1,000 British fathers were surveyed, aged between 18-40 years old, and it was revealed that one quarter could not even remember the journey home, with the average drive taking 21 minutes. Shockingly, the survey discovered that 85% of fathers would make the same journey again, with many stating that they had no other option.
So why do new dads end up putting themselves and their new babies at risk? Louise Reyner, Senior Lecturer and sleep expert at Loughborough University, says, “The excitement of being a new dad can overshadow tiredness, and it is only when things begin to settle down on the drive home, when dads may realise how sleepy they really are.”
Luckily, there are things you can do to minimise risk. Britax and Loughborough University have produced some tips for a safe journey home:
You should not drive in a sleepy state -think twice about driving home if you are tired – can someone else help you?
Plan a route home from the hospital that you feel comfortable and secure with (this may be different to the route you took to the hospital) and only drive if you feel alert.
Drink two cups of strong (caffeinated) coffee then take a 15 minute nap (while the caffeine kicks in) before you drive.
Keep the inside of the car, cool. Make sure baby keeps warm though.
If at any time during the drive you don’t feel safe, pull over and take a break.
With the research showing that many fathers are driving their babies home from hospital in a potentially dangerous state due to lack of sleep, this also raises questions about how safely and securely infant carriers are being fitted in cars. Britax’s ISOFIX system for car seats is now an international installation standard, helping parents to reduce installation errors and to ensure optimum child safety when travelling. Research shows that only 30 per cent of car seats installed using an adult seat belt are installed correctly, compared to 96 per cent when using the ISOFIX system.
Child Safety Expert Mark Bennett commented: “This research clearly highlights how important it is that dads spend time preparing themselves to drive home. As well as battling against a severe lack of sleep, many are then faced with the additional challenge of fitting a car seat for the first time. But we’re here to make that part easier for them, because with our ISOFIX system the chance of misfitting is drastically reduced. We also offer tips, advice and instructional videos to help people ensure their car seat is correctly fitted.”
* Dawson and Reid, Fatigue, Alcohol and Performance impairment, nature 388, 235 (July 17,1997)
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