- The Safe Sleep for Babies Act bans the sale of crib bumpers and incline sleepers.
- Both crib bumpers and incline sleepers are considered unsafe for sleep, but many parents assume they are safe because they are sold in stores.
- This law is a step in the right direction, but parents still need to understand safe sleep to make informed decisions when they purchase baby sleep products.
You have a new baby on the way, so you head to the baby section of your local store. Along the wall, there are a variety of little beds and cradles that look like they would be perfect for those early months when you have your infant sleeping in your bedroom with you.
At first glance, you notice that these little cradles don’t have a flat surface, which you know is part of the ABCs of safe sleep. You take a closer look at the packaging. It is clearly labeled as a “sleeper” and it shows a picture of a baby peacefully snoozing away in the product.
The store you are in is a reputable chain store. You reason that this product has to be safe for babies, or it wouldn’t be able to be sold. Unfortunately, many parents have purchased unsafe products for their babies using this same logic.
Now, following several companies’ voluntary recalls, a new law will ban some of the most dangerous baby sleep products on the market: inclined sleepers and crib bumpers.
The Safe Sleep for Babies Act
The Safe Sleep for Babies Act was signed into law on May 16, 2022, by President Joe Biden. This law banned the sale, manufacture, and importation of inclined sleepers and crib bumpers. These products do not meet the guidelines for safe sleep.
As outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should sleep only in products labeled a crib, bassinet, or play yard. “Nothing else should be in the crib except a firm mattress with a tight-fitting crib sheet,” says Sarah Mitchell, DC, a baby sleep expert and consultant, author of “The Helping Babies Sleep Method,” and owner of Helping Babies Sleep.
So why are products that go against the safe sleep guidelines on the market? That is the question lawmakers asked when they wrote the Safe Sleep for Babies Act. “I often see parents assume that because a product was labeled as a ‘sleeper’ or there was a picture of a sleeping baby on the website that it was safe for sleep,” says Heather Wallace, a certified pediatric sleep consultant, certified postpartum doula, and the owner of BraveHeart Sleep Training and Postpartum Doula Consulting.
Heather Wallace, certified pediatric sleep consultant
— Heather Wallace, certified pediatric sleep consultant
Why are Inclined Sleepers Dangerous?
Inclined sleepers have been popular in the past because they help babies sleep for longer stretches. But, they can be deadly. “Gravity can cause an infant’s head to drop down to their chest, which can block their breathing and cause asphyxiation,” explains Wallace. “Infants have also rolled to their sides or onto their tummies and suffocated in these devices.”
Many manufacturers have recalled their inclined sleepers following infant deaths in recent years. Even babies with gastrointestinal reflux should not sleep on an incline, as was once advised.
Why Are Crib Bumpers Dangerous?
Parents like crib bumpers because they prevent babies’ arms and legs from getting stuck between the bars of their crib. They also might seem like a good idea for preventing hard bumps against the crib bars. But, bumpers come with their own risks, which are much more serious.
Bumpers can suffocate an infant. “If your little one gets their face up against the bumper, their oxygen intake is compromised,” says Dr. Mitchell. “The baby’s neck muscles are not strong enough to reposition the head. This can cause oxygen deprivation or hypoxia, where the baby ends up inhaling the expired carbon dioxide they are producing.”
Sarah Mitchell, DC
— Sarah Mitchell, DC
Crib bumpers can cause entrapment as well, where the baby gets trapped between the mattress and the bumper, or even underneath the bumper. “The ties that the crib bumpers are attached with can also become loose and cause strangulation,” notes Wallace.
What This Means For You
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