TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Car seats are built for safety and save hundreds of children's lives each year. When used correctly, they keep children strapped in and safe from the unexpected hazards of the road. But, when does the parent's need to keep their child safe in a car seat become harmful?
A click, a buckle, and a few pulls keeps the kids safe.
"Car seats are safe," said Dr. Ann Christian, a pediatrician. "They're extremely safe and beneficial for their primary function which is to prevent death and injury in infants in motor vehicle accidents."
But, the same devices that help save lives are hurting others. More than 8,700 infants end up in the emergency room each year says a recent pediatric medical study because their car seats are used improperly outside the car.
"When this car seat is used as a crib, playpen, stroller, baby sling, it's probably not optimal...so there's different roles for different things," said Christian. "You can't leave a baby in a car seat on a table. If they're old enough, they'll jiggle themselves right off on the floor."
Parents may think the safety of the seat extends to the household, but doctors say it's a mistake.
"Just like the acts of breast feeding or bottle feeding when you place a child in a car seat...it's not an optimal place to spend all day," said Christian.
At Kidz R Life Daycare, Melanie Villanueva makes sure they don't.
"As soon as parents bring them in, we take them out of their car seat," said Villanueva. "They get as much movement as they can on the floor and in their cribs."
It is a small but crucial step in child development. Dr. Christian says keeping your infant in one position for a long time can weaken muscles. Workers give the little ones time to move and play on their own - a small step doctors say society is taking away.
"We have a lot of busy working moms," said Christian. "Moms that have several kids, we just need to pick our babies up and hold them."
A mother's touch goes a long way.
Doctors say to ensure the safety of your car seat, double check the specific uses of each type. Knowing your specific seat, they say, is the most important step in keeping your child safe in and out of the car.