Safety Warning on Sleep Positioners for Babies

Many mothers choose to use a sleep positioner in the crib, co-sleeper, or family bed to help keep their baby on their back, in hope of reducing the risk of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  I was one of those mothers when I chose to use a positioner like the one pictured below for my little girl.  SIDS is a fear that can loom over early parenting.  We do all we can to help prevent the risks for our babies.  We see all the products in the store advertised as helping lower the risk of SIDS. The decision making can be burden, while trying to decide what product if any the family should use.  Unfortunately, the advertising can state claims with little to no study conducted as to the validity of their statements.  However, the FDA and CPSC have issued a safety warning on these sleep positioners stating that they do nothing to lessen the risk of SIDS related death, and can in fact pose further risk.

I learned quickly, what the FDA and CPSC have warned against while using the positioner myself.  Babies who roll over on their own, should not use a positioner.  Babies who do not roll over can still wiggle their way down into the positioner.  Both of these things pose the risk of suffocation.  I did not use the positioner very long.  In general, babies who roll over on their own are okay to sleep in a position that they put themselves in.

There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS for your infant without buying the many products designed to make a buck off of worried parents. 

  1. Do not smoke or use drugs and alcohol during your pregnancy.  If you or someone in your home does smoke, ask them to smoke outdoors and not in your house.
  2. Never sleep with your baby in a waterbed or lying on the couch.
  3. Never sleep with your baby under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  4. Breastfeed your baby when possible.  Breastfeeding reduces the risk of many infections that can lead to SIDS death.
  5. Once breastfeeding is established offer your baby a pacifier.  Some studies show a reduced risk of SIDS in babies who use pacifiers.
  6. Sleep with your baby in the same room at least until 6 months of age.  A mother’s instinct is carefully tuned to the needs of her baby, and studies show that sleep patterns of mothers and infants are regulated one to the other, especially when mothers breastfeed.  Mothers who sleep close with their babies are very respondent to the needs of their infant.
  7. Don’t over clothe your baby.  Generally, if you are comfortable in the room, your baby is as well.  For blanketing, choose the zippered sleep bags, or learn to do a very tight swaddle.  Do not use pillows or bumper pads in the crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper.

For more recommendations on ways to prevent SIDS, read from the American SIDS Institute.

Some families choose to sleep in a family bed, and some physicians even support this as a way to reduce the risk of SIDS.  However, their are others who will state that this increases the risk of SIDS.  If you are considering a family bed for your baby, be sure to read about how to make the family bed a safe place for sleeping.  The family bed is the  norm in many cultures across the globe, and was in the United States for many years.  Many mothers and families love sharing the bed with their babies because of the extra sleep time it gives them.  Babies don’t wake as easily and they fall asleep again much faster.  Breastfeeding mothers like the added benefit of feeding the baby in bed.  There are many things that potentially make bed sharing a very dangerous practice, so it should not be approached lightly, and may not be the right decision for every family.  The many benefits of bed sharing can be reaped when parents approach this practice fully aware of how to make the family bed a safe place for everyone. Read more about the family bed at KellyMom.com. and from Dr. Sears.

Parenting carries with it so many personal choices.  We do our best to ensure the safety of our new little gifts.  We do the best we can with the information we have.  Please share this safety warning with other parents you know.  Also know, that your instincts do a lot in the way of keeping your baby protected and safe, much more than any store bought product.

Many happy days to you and yours,

Kelli

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About Kelli

I am Kelli B. Haywood, LCCE, a childbirth educator certified through Lamaze, a birth doula, and prenatal yoga instructor. My two little girls light my life. I am the wife of artist, musician, and teacher - John Haywood.
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