There are many baby gear products on the market that are, in fact, unsafe for babies and increase the risk of infant death. Do you know what those products are? Today, we share a list of infant sleep related products that do not help, are not necessary, and have been shown to cause injury and death.
The FDA has recently reissued a warning to parents advising against the use of sleep positioners, which can lead to accidental infant death. Sleep positioners, which are also sometimes called a wedge, nest, anti-roll pillow, or head shaping pillow, are marketed to parents to prevent infants from rolling or getting into an unsafe position when sleeping, but instead, the federal government has received reports of infant death from suffocation associated with sleep positioners, finding that babies often end up in unsafe positions.
Crib bumpers have long been on the list of unsafe baby items. The US Consumer Product Safety Commissioner issued a report earlier this year showing that crib bumpers lead to increased infant injury and death due to multiple hazards:
- They limit space on the mattress.
- They cover key failure points on the crib.
- They are difficult to install.
- They are used with children older than the recommended age.
- They are used outside cribs.
- Their use sends mixed messages about padded objects in a crib.
When a baby is put to sleep in a crib, they should be put on their backs in a crib with a snug fitted bottom sheet only. The cute crib quilts and fleece monogrammed blankets are adorable, but because they are loose in the crib, they can pose breathing and suffocation hazards, leading to increased cases of SIDS. In place of a blanket to keep babies warm, dress them in full length footed pajamas, or use an appropriate sized sleep sack (wearable blanket).
Pillows & Stuffed Toys
Similar to crib bumpers and blankets, pillows and stuffed toys are unnecessary and pose suffocation risks by restricting airflow in the crib and possibly ending up over or too close to baby's face. Infants and babies do not need pillows, and should not be put to sleep with stuffed animals, no matter how cute or special.
Crib tents, while not intended for infants, pose risks for older babies like entanglement and strangulation. A crib tent is designed to use when babies become mobile enough to try to climb out of the crib as a way to prevent climbing and falls. While there has not been an official statement against their use, Consumer Reports lists crib tents as one of the dangerous baby products. Parents concerned about a child who is starting to climb out should lower the mattress as far as it will go, remove all items from the crib that could be used to step on, and remove all items and furniture on the floor or around the crib. Once a child is old enough to climb out, it may also be the time to consider the use of a toddler bed.
What Should You Do for Safe Sleep?
We've provided a long list of what not do -- let's look at what you should do for safe sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following ABCs for safe sleep:
Alone - Baby should always sleep in a crib alone, but in the same room as their caregivers.
Back - Always place baby on his back to sleep. To prevent baby from laying her head to the same side every night, face baby in an alternating direction every night.
Crib - Baby should sleep in an empty (except for fitted bottom sheet) crib or bassinet that meets safety standards.
For more safe infant sleep tips, check out the AAP safe sleep guidelines explained on HealthyChildren.org.