Baby sleep positioners kill
© 2012 Roy Benaroch, MD
The AAP has been warning against these things for years, and finally the FDA and CPSC have weighed in: Infant sleep positioners don’t prevent SIDS, and don’t save lives. But they can kill your baby.
These things are wedge-shaped or U-shaped gizmos that are supposed to keep your baby in a certain position while sleeping, supposedly to prevent SIDS and other alleged problems. But the “back to sleep” anti-SIDS campaign, which has reduced deaths by over 50%, never suggested to have to keep your baby on his back. The message from the back to sleep campaign has always been to put your baby down on his or her back, then to go away. Once your baby can move or roll to a different position, that’s fine.
The SIDS prevention guidelines are pretty straightforward, but that hasn’t stopped companies from capitalizing on fear to sell devices that they claim will reduce SIDS. Special monitors, mattresses, pillows, bumpers, and infant positioners have all claimed to protect babies, yet the FDA (nor the AAP, nor anyone else who knows what they’re talking about) has ever endorsed or approved any such device.
Want to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? Here are some proven methods. These are from the AAP’s Details and references are all in the AAP’s 2011 policy statement on preventing SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths, which includes more details and references for all of these recommendations.
- Immunize – follow the established schedule, which reduces SIDS by about 50%.
- ALWAYS put your baby down to sleep on his or her back.
- Don’t use bumper pads or other padded fluffy things in the crib.
- Always use a firm, flat sleep surface. Babies should not routinely sleep in carriers, car seats, or bouncy seats.
- Place your baby on a separate sleeping surface, not your bed (Bed sharing is discouraged.) Babies can sleep in their parents room, but should not sleep in their parent’s bed.
- Wedges and sleep positioners should never be used.
- Don’t smoke during or after pregnancy.
- Offer a pacifier at sleep and naptimes.
- Avoid covering baby’s head.
- Avoid overheating.
- Practice supervised, awake tummy time to help motor development and avoid flattened heads.
- Ensure that pregnant women and babies receive good regular care.
The AAP’s recommendations not only address specific, known, modifiable risk factors for SIDS, but also help reduce the risk of death from suffocation and other causes. They are the best way to help keep your baby safe. Forget the hype and expense and unfounded promises from manufacturers—you can best keep your baby safe without buying anything.