Do you stress about your toddlers head flopping when they sleep in their car seat?
At best they look uncomfortable and keep jerking awake, at worse they are damaging their delicate neck.
SOLUTION: The Sandini Neck Support.
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It was over a year ago that I first wrote about the Sandini car seat head support, which I use with my daughter. In short, what it does is support your baby’s, toddler’s or even older child’s head and neck when they fall asleep in their car seat.
The head support is basically two little cushions that Velcro together beneath your child’s chin so their head won’t fall forward or bob around when they drop off to sleep in their car seat. The cushions are on a strap that is looped around their car seat so will keep the cushions in place for the whole time your child is napping.
VERDICT: Amazing 🙂
The Best Car Seat Head Support (in my opinion).
There are a lot of different types of head and neck support pillows that you can buy to help stop your toddlers head from falling forward in a car seat. They range from a simple strap that goes across their head to a neck pillow that goes around the shoulders. We took a look at all of these options and provide a review of them later on this post. But…
… the reason the Sandini head and neck support is better is down to the amount of time and research (as well as safety testing) that has clearly been put into the product. This head support has been developed and tested in European universities and helps protect against side airbag impacts among other things (information provided by Sandini themselves).
The proof of any product is whether it works and how well it works. If you keep reading on then you will find out that for our daughter it is the one thing we would never leave home without if we are travelling in the car. Luckily, because the head support attaches to the car seat so this isn’t even a possibility!
I love it.
One year on and I still love it.
I originally wrote this post in 2016, but I wanted to quickly update one year on. Obviously, our daughter is one year older so does it still work just as well?
YES, IT DOES 🙂
When we first used this head and neck pillow our daughter was about 18 months old, so not a tiny baby but still pretty small. She was not used to having anything around her chin and neck so she never liked us putting the Sandini support on while she was awake, so we put it on after she went to sleep. It never disturbed her putting on the head support and even when she woke up she was OK with it.
Fast forward 11 months or so and she is a lot happier with it going on when she’s still awake. In fact now when she is tired and we get in the car she asks for the pillow to be put on. So this is great. Also, when she wakes up she can easily un-Velcro it and pull it apart herself. Quite often, hearing the Velcro being ripped apart is our first clue that she’s awake again 🙂
Here’s a video of it in action now (our daughter is 27 months in this video). The original video from a year ago can be found further down in this article.
Original write-up below…
Ahhh. my toddler can now sleep peacefully in the car without jerking herself awake every time her head slumps forward or when I turn a corner.
All parents who drive with their baby or toddler (in fact kids of any age) will know this pain. Your child is starting to fall asleep in their car seat and the next time you check on them their head has flopped forward and they look like they are in the most uncomfortable position ever. Every bump you go over or corner you turn and their little head bounces and slides and they wake up for a second startled, before (hopefully) falling to sleep again.
The long drive home from the in-laws.
Over the weekend we drove down to Ipswich (to see the in-laws) that took us around 5 hrs with a lunch break. However, on the drive back we decided to get our 22 month old daughter bathed and ready for bed before we left and then hoped she would sleep all the way home.
We have an Obaby 123 car seat which is great but it is pretty upright. A lot of car seats are like this and as soon as our daughter falls to sleep in it her head falls forward. Our daughter is clearly not comfortable and you can hear her breathing get a bit more strained, I also worry that it can’t be any good for her neck. However, the main issue is that she gets shocked awake as her head bounces around as we drive and so she never gets a good sleep in the car.
Our [head slumping] DIY solutions.
What we have tried to do in the past was either place (wedge) a jumper behind her lower back to make her sit at more of an angle, and while this does help stop her head flopping forward it made her slump in her child seat and her back also got a little hot. Another option we tried was to place a rolled up jumper lightly under her chin to try and stop it falling forward. This has had mixed results.
How to stop your baby or toddlers head slumping in their car seat [solved].
I went to an International Baby and Toddler Trade Show recently in Cologne to see what new and exciting child products there were. Kid Transit are always looking for new and better ways to help parents. While there I came across a company that made neck supports for babies and toddlers. I was excited because this was a problem I personally had and this was a potential solution.
I spoke at length to the representative on this display and was told how this was a patented design that had been safety tested in universities and had a whole host of benefits including protection against side airbags. However, for me, the main thing was that it supported my daughters head in her child car seat and caused no discomfort to her while she could have a great nap.
I had to try it out and the representative was kind enough to give me one to use for the rest of my holiday. I was spending a week in Germany after attending the trade show and would be driving a lot so it was perfect for me.
Back to the in-laws and the long drive home with a sleeping toddler.
Anyway back to the drive home from the in-laws. We did not stop and it took about 3hrs 40mins and our daughter slept all of the way because we now had the Sandini head and neck support pillow. Perfect 🙂
The head support worked perfectly keeping our daughters head nice and secure and she looked so peaceful sleeping in her child seat. Check out the short video below to see how well it works.
When we first used this head (and neck) support we thought it looked a little big, however, it is now clear that the size helps support the head and neck and also provides a large enough area for the Velcro to attach to keep the two parts of the head support together. The child seat head support has other benefits as the company Sandini quote on their website and documentation. These are all added benefits but the main thing to us is that it worked and that it is safe.
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Who are Sandini?
Sandini, the company behind this toddler seat head support are a German company and the product is 100% made in the EU. It has been tested and manufactured to European laws and standards.
Below are some images taken from the manufacturer’s website. You can learn more about them here (they are a Germany company and this is a German website).
What Sandini say:
SleepFix® is recommended by leading safety experts, for example, German ADAC, ADAC Motor world and is also ranked “very good” by Eco-Test (single test 3/2007). Moreover, the safety sleeping pillow was Award Winner of the Eurobike Award 2010, German Design Award Nominee 2012 and will be German Design Award Winner 2017 for excellent product design. Furthermore, all textiles are tested for harmful substances and have the certificate of Eco-Tex Standard 100. In order to ensure outstanding quality, all SANDINI-products are Designed in Germany and Made in EU.
They also state:
The safety sleeping pillow SANDINI SleepFix® in size S enables relaxed and safe sleeping for children in all kinds of seats of group 1 / 2 / 3, for car seats, reboarders, bicycle seats, bicycle trailers, buggies, backrests and booster seats. SleepFix® S stabilizes head and upper body and makes the child sleep more relaxed. Moreover it can be used as a lateral head support or a lateral seat minimizer, even when the child is awake. It prevents the tilting of the child’s head while sleeping and minimizes the risk of injuries in case of accidents. SleepFix® S is recommended to use from the age of approximately 18 months until 12 years.
The above quotes were taken from official Sandini documentation.
While speaking with the Sandini representative at the trade show they told me more about the safety testing and that in the event of a sudden stop (e.g. an accident) where the child’s head would be forced forward the two sections of the head support would come apart and would not cause any harm to the child’s neck. This is important and a concern that parents might have.
Child head support for bikes and baby carrier backpacks.
We only used the head support for our car child seat so cannot comment on how well it works in other situations, but Sandini do state that it can be used for both child bike seats and carrier backpacks.
The head support comes with a weighted pack that can be hung over the back of the head support and will hold it lightly in place so that it will not slide down. Again, we have not tried this because this attachment option was not needed with our car seat and we instead use the attachment straps that hooked around the head-rest of the child car seat.
Comments and recommendations.
First of all, if you want to keep your baby or toddler (in fact kids of any age) nice and peaceful as they sleep and prevent their heads flopping forward then get a Sandini head support. They have different sizes as well as heat-transfer materials to choose from. We have the standard black SleepFix design in small and we love it. We have never noticed any excess heat around the neck and the head is always supported.
One problem [slight] we have is when we first connect the head support. When not in use you pull the two sections apart and move them out of the way. The recommended position is to pull them up to the top of the fixation straps which is what we do. However, we cannot put them on our daughter when she is awake because she does not like it around her neck and just tries to pull it off.
When she falls to sleep we pull the two head support sections down and then try and position it so her chin is supported correctly. We tend to disturb our daughter a little when we do this but the more we do it the easier it seems to be. Once in position, it works fantastically.
Every time I have used this child seat head support I have had my wife in the car. So when our 22 month old falls to sleep my wife leans over and fixes the head support. If I was alone I would have two options. The first would be to try and get the support on before I set off and while my daughter was awake, or I would need to pull over to attach it when she falls asleep. So bear this in mind if you buy one.
Finally, while our daughter is [kind of] OK when she wakes up with the head support on, she can at times be a little agitated. So this is something else for you to consider if driving alone. My wife can simply pull the head support apart and all is good but if I was driving alone I would need to pull over to sort it out.
I love this car seat head support and it solves a problem I have had since we moved our daughter into her next stage car seat. I got this for free because I went to the trade show and was lucky enough to meet the company representative, but I would definitely buy one. Getting it on when my daughter is sleeping can be a little fiddly but it is fine, and once on it is great. In fact, it is fantastic!
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What other head supports for car seats are available?
Even though we highly recommend the Sandini head support after using it and loving it for so long, we get that it might not be the solution that works for your own baby or toddler when their head starts to bob in their car seat. So with that in mind, here are a few different options that should stop the slumping and flopping when your child sleeps in the car.
Baby Body Support
There are a number of variations of this baby body support, this one is from well known baby brand Diono. The newborn body support is for use in prams, carriers and car seats and gives the whole of your baby some extra support and padding especially when they are newborn. This works by supporting the whole of the baby to make them more comfortable when the pram or car seat is still a bit big for them.
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NapUp Head Support
The NapUp Head Support is similar to the Sandini as it attaches by straps to the head rest of your child’s car seat, however instead of supporting the head underneath the chin, it uses a head band around the forehead to stop your child’s head from bobbing or flopping. The support is nicely cushioned and can be machine washed in case it gets dirty.
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Basic Head Band Support
Similar to the NapUp Head Support, this is a very basic version that just uses a strap around the forehead that is attached to the car seat. The area of the strap that sits on your child’s head is soft and padded for comfort and can be used in prams and baby carriers as well as car seats. If you use one of these forehead type straps do make sure they are fitted properly and can never slip across your child’s mouth and nose.
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Travel Neck Pillow by Trunki
Just like the common neck pillow, this Trunki designed one sits around your toddler’s shoulders to support their head from rolling when asleep. This pillow is slightly thinner and is the same width all the way around the pillow to fit a smaller child’s head and neck better. The pillow also has magnets to join each end together under the chin for full support. As you would expect from a Trunki product, it comes in loads of fun designs.
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Car Seat Belt Pillow
This head support pillow is more for older children who are using an adult across chest seatbelt. The pillow attaches to the seatbelt using Velcro and can be positioned to support the head and neck when they have a nap in the car. The pillow is comfortable and thick to give nice support for your child during a long car journey.