The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is NOT for sleeping

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

You might think a thing sold by a huge manufacturer of children’s toys and furniture as a “sleeper” would a safe, appropriate place for a baby to sleep. It is, after all, called a “sleeper.” But it is not a safe place for your baby to sleep.

The Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is a sling-shaped baby holder sort of gizmo, fitted into a frame that allows it to rock back and forth. The baby is held kind of snuggled in a pouch, in a sitting-like position, tilted up maybe thirty degrees or so. The name implies that it’s for rocking (that seems right, though I don’t think they’re talking about this kind of rocking—give that man a towel) and for playing. The problem I’m worried about is that last word in the name, the “Sleeper”. This slingy soft thing is not a place to leave your baby to sleep.

Why? Because we know that to best prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and to best encourage normal physical and motor development, babies ought to be put down to sleep flat on their backs, on a firm, flat surface. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is not firm, and it’s not flat—so it is not a safe place to routinely sleep.

The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics published detailed guidelines about safe sleeping environments for babies in October, 2011. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper clearly doesn’t fulfill many of these evidence-based criteria. I contacted Fisher-Price in February, and spoke with a very nice person, the “Manager-Risk Management.” I’ve sent her a detailed e-mail with my concerns that she said she would forward to the Director of Safety Management. Since then, all I’ve heard from Fisher-Price is:

Thank you for your inquiry and comments. We did receive your email on February 7. 2013.  We have provided these comments to the appropriate people within Fisher-Price.

The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper complies with all applicable standards.  We encourage consumers who have questions or concerns about providing a safe sleeping environment for their babies to discuss these issues with their doctors or pediatricians.

We appreciate your taking the time to contact us.

OK, since they say they encourage consumers to discuss these issues with their pediatricians, let’s discuss it!

Below is what I had sent to Fisher-Price: the details of my concerns, based on the AAP’s recommendations in bold. The numbers refer to each recommendation in the AAP document.

1. To reduce the risk of SIDS, infants should be placed for sleep in a supine position (wholly on the back) for every sleep by every caregiver until 1 year of life.

The Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper does not keep a baby wholly on the back, but rather in an inclined position. It is not a safe way for babies to sleep.

2. Use a firm sleep surface—A firm crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet, is the recommended sleeping surface to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.

The Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is not a firm crib mattress.

2e. Sitting devices, such as car safety seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings, are not recommended for routine sleep in the hospital or at home.

Though this sentence doesn’t specifically mention your product, the Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is shaped like the devices in this category, and is therefore not recommended for sleep.

2e. If an infant falls asleep in a sitting device, he or she should be removed from the product and moved to a crib or other appropriate flat surface as soon as is practical.

Again, babies should not be left to sleep in a device like your Rock ‘n Play Sleeper.

16. Media and manufacturers should follow safe-sleep guidelines in their messaging and advertising.

From your website describing this product, at, I quote: “The seat is also inclined, which makes napping more comfortable for babies who need their heads elevated.” This implies that babies need their heads elevated, or that perhaps some of them need their heads elevated for comfort for napping. This is incorrect and contradicts the AAP, and is inconsistent with the safe sleeping guidelines.

In short, the Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper does not meet the standards established by the AAP for safe sleep. Parents, do not leave your babies sleeping in this gizmo. Their safety is too important.

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54 Comments on “The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is NOT for sleeping”

  1. oldmdgirl Says:

    Following those guidelines is why my daughter rarely slept more than 20-40 minutes at a time for the first 3 months of her life. I probably won’t have a second kid because of it. I guess at least she survived? I almost didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Dr Benaroch for the thoughful research and public service announcement regarding devices that can result in unsafe sleep positions for young infants.
    The risks lessen after about 6 months of age, when the baby has good head control and can roll over on his/her own, but as the Guidelines point out, it is best to place baby in the supine position (on his/her back) to fall asleep until he is a year of age, and if he rolls over later in the crib on his own let him be.
    If a device such as the Play Sleeper is used in an older infant, it should still NOT be used for routine sleep, and the baby should be directly observed with the parent nearby while he/she is in the device.
    For the young infant who rarely sleeps more than 20-40 minutes the first 3 months of likfe (described by oldmdgirl), there are several medical problems that should be investigated and other techniques to improve sleep in this age group that your pediatrician can assist with.
    Gary Montgomery MD
    Pediatric Sleep Specialist


  3. elissarachel Says:

    You clearly never had a baby/child with reflux. My kids couldn’t sleep flat on their backs until 8 months. And…they are still alive. It is a guideline and not one size fits all.

    Are you even a parent? You do what you can to get by when all else fails.

    This post sounds judgemental and ignorant to me.

    Liked by 11 people

  4. elissarachel Says:

    You must not have experience with reflux babies.

    My kids couldn’t sleep flat on their backs or bellies until 8 months.

    That thing is a lifesaver!!!

    And….my kids both survived!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. roysboy Says:

    yes, my dad has experience with babies with reflux. 🙂


  6. Dr. Roy Says:

    Thanks D! Shouldn’t you be getting ready for school or something?


  7. Dr. Roy Says:

    Elissarachel, most babies who sleep in less-safe environments will be fine– just like most babies who ride in a car without a safety seat will be fine… until they’re not.

    For those of you struggling with babies who sleep poorly or have reflux, please work with your pediatrician or family doc to find safe solutions that can help your family get through those difficult times.

    Dr. Montgomery, thanks for stopping by! For those of you who don’t know him, Dr. M is a pediatric pulmonary specialist who is also certified in ped sleep medicine. He’s also, as we say in the biz, a really smart guy.


  8. elissarachel Says:

    I just don’t think the guidelines pertain to some of us…

    We work with our pedi and pedi GI. Both my kids were on the max meds for their age including prilosec, zantac, and amino acid formula for milk protein allergy. Lying flat was still not an option until 7/8 months.

    I could get into more detail, but I won’t…

    A small percentage of us need “contraptions” like that to get our babies some sleep.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Mum12 Says:

    The Rnp was a lifesaver for our reflux/ colicky baby. It sounds like you may have a personal vendetta against it. I would imagine it would have been recalled, like the nap nanny, if babies were suffocating in it.

    I love your comment oldmgirl I feel the same!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Dr. Roy Says:

    Upon reflection, I suppose I do have a personal vendetta against anything that places babies in harm’s way.


  11. Sabra Says:

    Today my daughters head fell forward in her Rnp which is apparently a common problem and she stopped breathing during her nap, I had another Rnp with my son and it NEVER bothered him but its true they are fine in it, until their not.


  12. Sarah Says:

    I think your article is very good IN THEORY. My son had such a hard time when he was little. By following the guidelines you set forth he would only sleep 15-20 minutes at a time.

    We had him in the doctors – he was medicated and put on the “Cadillac” formula. All with minimal improvements.

    After 5 weeks and countless tears shed in frustration (and sleep deprivation) – we purchased a rock-n-play out of sheer desperation. The first night we went from 20 minutes of sleep to 5 hours. Miracle.

    Because of articles like this, my state prevents childcare workings from anything but flat on the back. My son immediately went back to not sleeping during the day. We actually were asked not to come back to daycare until he could nap flat… This devastated me. Our pediatrician offered to sign a doctors directive in light of the severity and even she was not able to offer our care provider a solution.

    At 5 months it was like a switch. We moved our baby back to a crib and followed the guidelines as soon as he would actually sleep there.

    I’m an engineer with an advanced degree. I would never do anything to hurt baby. But babies (and parents) need sleep. Growth and development happen because of it.

    When working in absolutes you run other risks. I was lucky enough to have resources to be able to hire a night nanny to help get me through (once – twice a week we had someone to help). Not allowing or recommending options, in situations as extreme as ours, would be irresponsible. There are numerous articles available by the NIH about the impacts of prolonged sleep deprivation (aggression, depression, anxiety, etc).

    I’ve read articles about parents who’ve followed every guideline and still expirenced SiDS. Sleep deprivation is a part of being a new parent – but at what point does it become irresponsible for such a vehement approach?

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Dr. Roy Says:

    Sarah, these posts I write are often about general guidelines and ideas that fit best for most babies. Obviously I don’t know you or your baby, and I can’t possibly write each post so it applies to every baby out there. Your own pediatrician who knows you and your baby best will be able to give you better, more-specific advice than I. And in my own practice, when I know my own patients, my own advice is tailored to each individual baby.

    That being said, it’s clear that sleeping on the back is safest for most babies, and that should be the usual way that most babies sleep, and that ought to be the usual suggestion most of the time. The Fisher Price Rock and Play sleeper is being sold to as many babies as possible– it is not being sold only for babies like yours. Do you see why I am trying to get this information about SIDS prevention out there, and why I object to how it’s being marketed? (That’s the personal vendetta I’ve been accused of. I’m not attacking parents, I’m attacking Fisher Price.)

    Now: If Fisher Price wants to sell this as a medical device, specifically to help with babies who have a specific medical condition (eg Colic or GERD), by all means– just do the studies, first, showing that it’s safe and effective. That’s what is required from medications and medical devices. You can’t claim it’s to treat a medical condition unless you’ve got the studies to back that up.

    RE: childcare facilities and sleep position, in my own medical experience a baby who slept at home on her back was placed on her tummy at day care and was found cold and dead. There is specific evidence that babies who usually sleep on their backs may be even more vulnerable to SIDS if placed on their tummies for occasional naps.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sarah Says:

    Thank you for the clarification – and I agree whole heartedly with your clarified statement. I am passionate about this topic as many people made statements about how I was putting my baby in jeopardy- when I put our baby in this. It crushed me. I have a fantastic relationship with my pediatrician and any many conversations where he was supportive.

    I wish we could get some solid research into the safety. However it seems like most major health organizations are too busy demonizing these devices and Fischer price is too busy protecting its profits…


  15. Dr. Roy Says:

    It took 5 infant deaths for this product to be recalled:

    I don’t know how the infants died– the statement is unclear. It may have been related to falling out or getting entangled in the harness. In any case, this recalled thing certainly looks like it holds babies, or is meant to hold babies, in a reclined similar to that of the Rock and Play Sleeper.

    Again: babies should not routinely sleep in these kinds of devices.


  16. Mom o' 3 Says:

    Have there been any actual reported deaths/SIDS in the RnP & how long has it been on the market?


  17. Dr. Roy Says:

    Mom ‘o, I don’t know if there have been any reported deaths. The CPSC website does show a recall for the Rock n Play sleeper, related to mold:

    I am not 100% sure when this product was released, but a quick skim of Amazon reviews shows some dating back to 2009.


  18. Nikki Says:

    I too own a RnP, my daughter has “night terrors” and since you know so much I’m sure you know what it is. She cannot sleep unless she feels safe and snuggled or else she wakes petrified. I am not a fan of co sleeping and this device has helped me a lot. She also has reflux and is on Nutramigen. This stuff is not cheap. Have you ever considered that if a child with reflux sleeps on their back FLAT they could choke on their own vomit? I’m sure the people that write these “guidelines” haven’t or they would rather stick to their beliefs than actually change something. I know It could happen but these “doctors” have no right to tell parents that if they don’t do things their way their child will die. I support the RnP and as far as the mold, it’s machine washable for a reason. And people can put the remaining piece in a tub and wash it! I am done venting now and my child will continue to sleep in her RnP until she stops having the reflux and terrors.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Dr. Roy Says:

    Nikki, I think, is suggesting that the Fisher-Price Rock -n- Play Sleeper is a medical device, in her case being used to treat night terrors and reflux. If this is so, than it ought to be held to the same standards as all medical devices: the manufacturer ought to demonstrate that it is safe and effective for the medical conditions for which it is marketed. Parents deserve good solid information, not just marketing hoopla.

    The possible associate between reflux and SIDS, or death from any other cause, has been extensively studied. I don’t know if it will reassure Nikki, but we know that reflux is not a cause of SIDS, and that babies with reflux (who are neurologically normal) do not choke and die on their vomit. This is specifically addressed in the AAP guideline at under 1.a., “The supine sleep position does not increase the risk of choking and aspiration in infants, even those with gastroesophageal reflux, because they have protective airway mechanisms.” There may be rare babies with anatomic or neurologic complications for whom upright or other kinds of sleeping positions are appropriate, but for the vast majority of babies with and without GERD, flat sleeping on the back is safest.

    Nikki says “…these ‘doctors’ have no right to tell parents that if they don’t do things their way their child will die.” People come to see me every day for advice, based on my training and experience. Some even choose to visit this website. I’m not supposed to tell people when what they’re doing is endangering their child? What’s the point of being a pediatrician, then?


  20. Nikki Says:

    Ok but how can you say that if things are not done a specific way that children will die. Medical advice is understandable but this is a sleeping arrangement. These findings are based on a study of infant deaths and are not an isolated study group. (As in not done in a lab) which is a good thing but these are not typical results. Even you said there are no reported deaths from this device so why are you bashing it? And maybe they should market something like this as a medical device. Show me where sleeping elevated has caused infant deaths!


  21. Dr. Roy Says:

    Nikki, I’m not saying that if you put your child to sleep a certain way, he will die. Obviously most kids who sleep on their tummies, or in a car seat, or in a position other than on their backs will not die. And most babies who are dropped onto the floor don’t die; and most babies who don’t ride in a car seat will not die. Most parents seek to minimize health risks for their children by choosing the safest option. That doesn’t mean the less-safe option always equals death.

    Still, upright sleeping does increase the risk of death. Since you asked for a specific instance, here’s one report I found through a quick google search: We don’t of course know if the individuals reported died because of their sleep position, but deaths in upright sleeping babies has been reported.

    I am not making this stuff up, and sleep recommendations are not based on a single study. Every developed country in the world is recommending flat-on-back sleeping because of convincing data that show’s it’s the safest way to sleep. Here’s advice from Australia: Here’s advice from Israel:

    And, as I’ve said before, this is a blog offering medical information that I hope is useful to many parents. I am not here to give you specific advice about your individual child– I’m not your doctor, and I don’t know you, and I don’t know your kid. If you’ve got specific circumstances and your own doctor has given you more-specific advice, you ought to follow it.


  22. Nikki Says:

    And it clearly states that they were in carseats. I know they are dangerous bc of the harness.


  23. Dr. Roy Says:

    The death had nothing to do with the harness. It’s the upright position. Quoting directly from the article:

    Robinson determined the baby died of asphyxiation due to an obstruction of his upper airway and blamed the baby’s cramped posture in the seat for reducing his ability to breathe.

    “The head of the baby is heavier than the body. The neck muscle is not straight enough to let the neck rise so it falls,” said Robinson.

    In his report, Robinson notes there are risks to leaving a child sleeping in any seated position. He encourages parents to put their children to sleep horizontally at all times, preferably in a crib.


  24. Monica Says:

    My baby suffers from acid reflux. If it wasn’t for the Rock N Play she wouldn’t sleep (due to coughing, gagging, hiccuping, spitting up, and puking associated with acid reflux). I’m sure the Rock N Play was initially intended for napping under parental supervision. She fell asleep on my lap tonight lying flat on her back. This is great because it was the first time in her life she was able to. I’m excited because now she can transition to a crib, which is safer for her. However, common sense must come into play at some point. I can’t fore a baby to sleep in a position that causes her to vomit an the swallow it back or lay in her own puke until I wake up and notice. Americans have beome so aloof with parenting. Mother knows best.


  25. Jen Says:

    RNP has become the new “bassinet”, which is too bad. I’m confused that people are mad at your advice when you can find articles all day long on the internet from medical professionals that it is safest for babies to sleep flat. This isn’t some new theory you’ve made up. It’s sad that people feel that we should wait for an infant to die, specifically in a RNP, before it should be considered a no-no. I just hope it’s not their infant that has to be the “guinea pig” in this experiment. Thank you for this article Dr. Roy!


  26. Me Says:

    You sit are an idiot. This device is a life saver and for babies with reflux pediatricians DO recommend elevated inclined sleeping position. The company said consult your doctor. Why? Because not all babies are created equal. You have to take ALL the details into consideration not just the cookie cutter standards you so ignorantly embrace as applying to all.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Melissa Says:

    Forgive me if this has already been stated, as I just skimmed the comments….but I think people are forgetting to use common sense. I don’t think it’s being suggested that if your baby falls asleep in the stroller at the mall, you should immediately remove them and carry them the rest of the way. Or if they fall asleep in a swing or bouncy seat while you sit next to them and eat lunch, you should immediately stop eating and move them to the crib. BUT as a general rule, anything that has them sitting in an upright position shouldn’t be used for sleeping. SLEEPING, that’s the key. My son would always fall asleep no matter what he was in during those early days. It doesn’t mean we never went anywhere, but for naps and nighttime, he was in his crib.


  28. Brie Says:

    My son had to sleep in a bouncy seat for the first 3 months of life! He had silent reflux- but since he wasn’t loosing weight, his pediatrician wouldn’t prescribe him any meds. In hindsight, I wish I had been more firm, because he was a very miserable baby. Colicky, wouldn’t sleep. And he was breastfed! Once he started rolling over, we moved him to a crib and had no problems at all.
    I specifically asked for a rock n play for my second son for the reflux reasons. Common sense should be used with all devices. If I notice his head falls forward while in it, I won’t use it. And he’ll be right next to me at night so I can keep an eye on him. And I’ll be breastfeeding again, so that will help.


  29. DB Says:

    I agree with this article…there is no vendetta against Fisher Price or their product but a company should not promote an item for infant sleep that does not follow AAP guidelines. I fully understand reflux…not as a parent but as a healthcare provider (RN) who cares for pre-term infants in a NICU. We elevate our babies heads while on monitors but do not encourage this practice with parents! Most babies who require elevated sleep areas will go home on apnea monitors under direct order of a physician. I strongly advise any of you not able to place your children Alone Back to sleep in a bare Crib (ABC) to discuss monitors & safe ways to elevate cribs.

    I attended a seminar this evening on SIDS/safe sleep & those images reenactments & images of actual infants dead because of being placed in car seats/swings/adult beds/etc are heartbreaking…and preventable. The forensic examiner & assistant chief medical examiner of VA stated it best & these words will forever change my practice as a nurse & parent (whenever we have a 2nd), “They don’t cry, they just die.”

    Liked by 1 person

  30. junayd Says:

    i agree that there is safety concern in using RNP as sleeper. But as a parent of a 3 weeks old baby girl with larengomalacia what advice can you provide so that my baby can sleep more longer that 20minutes lying flat on her back as she keeps on vomiting while lying flat. On a sitting position on my arms she can sleep longer and rarely vomits. But I cant hold her in this way for hours as i need to sleep also. This is very tiring for me. I am desperate to buy any affordable medical device that i can use at home for my baby to sleep with safely and longer for hours. If RNP is not medically proven as safe for babies what other device or gadget is available in the market that i can buy for my baby to sleep with? This can be a big challenge and opportunity for doctors, nurses, engineers, or any one to invent or design or manufacture a device for babies with this problem.


  31. Justine Says:

    We’ve placed our month old little girl to sleep in her crib next to our bed since she was born. Every night, we’ve gotten about 2 hours of sleep total in 2-5 minute increments because she wakes herself up constantly by kicking her feet, even when swaddled, and then needs to be calmed down and rocked back to sleep in my arms. Last night, we put her in a RNP out of desperation, and she slept 3 stretches of 2.5 hours, only waking up so that I could nurse her. Is it healthier for a baby (and her parents) to get basically zero sleep than it is for her to sleep in an RNP? If the RNP is unsafe, do you have recommendations for parents whose babies absolutely cannot or will not sleep on their backs? The only alternative I see is holding her all night, which terrifies me because I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep with her in the bed!


  32. RedSoxGrl Says:

    My baby has severe reflux too, in fact, he has Sandifers Syndrome. I was told by my pediatrician NOT to lay him flat on his back to sleep because the reflux was so bad that formula and stomach acid was coming up into his mouth when he was flat. I even had to put a wedge under his changing table pad because he couldn’t even lay flat long enough for me to change him without choking on stomach acid. My pediatrician actually recommended the Rock n Play or a car seat to sleep in. In fact, my pediatrician’s daughter had severe reflux when she was a baby and he had to let her sleep in her car seat as Rock n Play wasn’t invented back then. So while the guidelines are good in theory, no, they are not one-size-fits-all. I find it much safer for my son to sleep in the Rock n Play than put him flat on his back and risk him choking to death on spit up. Further more, we are told to place our babies on their back to sleep, correct? Well does the Rock n Play not provide that sleeping position? It sure doesn’t require or even allow the baby to sleep on his/her stomach does it? So does it not meet the guideline of baby sleeping on back? I believe it does. How easy would it be for a baby to roll over onto his/her side or stomach while laying flat in a bassinet or crib? Any parent could tell you, it would be very easy. However, the Rock n Play’s design doesn’t allow for the child to be able to do that. To me, knowing my child can’t accidentally roll onto his stomach in his sleep sounds much safer to me. As far as the Rock n Play being a “soft slingy thing”, have you ever even taken a Rock n Play out of the package and examined it? It is anything but soft! The part of the Rock n Play that supports the baby’s head, neck and back are very firm. I am very biased and defensive when it comes to the Rock n Play because it has been a life saver for my son, myself and my husband. My only regret is that I didn’t have it from day one. The Rock n Play allowed my son to sleep comfortably and SAFELY after THREE MONTHS of no one in my house sleeping!!


  33. DB Says:

    If medically necessary that is fine if your pediatrician recommends it. In your case, completely understandable. However, the average healthy infant can sleep perfectly fine on their backs, flat in a firm crib or crib like area. One of the main problems of swings, RnP sleepers car seats, etc. is that a lot parents don’t strap their babies in putting them at risk for wiggling down & clamping off their airways. Again, you do what is best for your baby with his/her medical condition…never said you should never use it in those conditions 🙂


  34. Dr. Roy Says:

    Several people have brought up specific issues with their babies that have led their own pediatricians to give different advice regarding sleep position. If your own physician, who knows your child, has made specific recommendations, you should follow those. My column was not meant to imply that under all circumstances, always, there is one exact way that something has to be done.

    One specific statement from RedSoxGirl needs to be corrected: she says that the RnP may be better than flat-on-back sleeping, because it keeps the baby in a certain position. The safe sleep guidelines have always been about the position you put your baby down to sleep, and have never suggested that parents need to keep their babies on their backs all the time. Sleep positioners or adjusters or other gizmos that keep babies on their back are not recommended and have never been recommended. Once Junior can roll over onto his back, let him. Things that interfere with this have been associated with flat heads, delayed motor milestones, and death.


  35. kerihanson Says:

    My child coughs and chokes and vomits and wheezes in his crib all night. Which means I do not sleep. At all. I’m delerious and crying all the time. This can’t be healthy for my baby either. At 4 am this morning, I finally put my baby in the Rock and Play half scares to death he would face SIDS. But it was the most quiet 2 hours of sleep I’ve had in 2.5 weeks. So what’s your advice doctor? Should I never sleep? Risk dropping my baby out of exhaustion during a night feeding? Or take my chances with the Rock & Play?


  36. Dr. Roy Says:

    kerihanson, you really ought to take your baby to see his or her doctor. It may help to bring a video of what’s going on. I don’t think you should be trying to self-diagnose and treat on your own. I also suggest from your comment that you are “delerious and crying all the time” that you, yourself, need to go see your own doctor to see what’s going on. You may have post-partum depression, a very serious and real condition. You should also look into respite care– perhaps there is family, friends, or a neighbor who can stay up with your child every once in a while so you can get some genuine rest. I wish you the best and hope you are able to get some answers and relief soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. My baby has slept in her rock n play since we brought her home and still at 6 months. Our pediatrician (at UCSD pediatrics) said it was fine for her to sleep in it. I would hardly consider it an “upright” sleep position, more like slightly inclined, not at all like a car seat or most baby swings. Also, at 6 months, when we put her in her crib for a nap on her back, she immediately rolls onto her tummy, which our doctor said is also fine and absolutely not to wake her.


  38. Dr. Roy Says:

    Babies who can roll onto their tummies (or into any other position) should be left alone to sleep. The Safe Sleep Guidelines have never suggested that babies need to be “kept” on their backs, only that they ought to be placed flat onto their backs at sleeptime. Devices that hold babies on their backs can lead to developmental problems, and have caused deaths from entanglements and suffocation.


  39. cayogeneral Says:

    Hi Dr. Roy,

    What is your position on inclined cribs or devices that create an incline for cribs?


  40. Dr. Roy Says:

    Cayo, there are some circumstances where inclines can help. In general, though, most babies will be safest on a flat, horizontal sleeping surface. That also seems to be the best position to encourage normal motor development and head growth.


  41. Kelin Says:

    My son was born 11 weeks early and spent the first 10 weeks of his life in the NICU he was known to be a big spitter, even while tube fed. Having seen the amount of spit up he was able to produce, I was terrified of leaving him flat on his back to sleep. So, when a friend gave me a rock n play as a gift, I believed it to be the perfect solution. My baby was diagnosed with reflux a few weeks after coming home, which only solidified my enthusiasm for the rock n play. For the first two months he was home, that’s where he slept. In fact, he would not sleep anywhere else. Then, at his 4 month well visit, his pediatrician pointed out how flat his head was on one side and proceeded to ask about his sleeping arrangements. She was horrified to find out that he slept in his rock n play and stated that I needed to transition him to sleeping on a flat surface, even if he had to be inclined. She told me that not only is the rock n play known for contributing to plagiocephaly, but it’s particularly unsafe for infants born prematurely because of their delicate airways and low muscle tone. I had no idea, but he has not slept in it since that day. At 6.5 months (4 adjusted), he is able to sleep flat without even being on an incline but his head has seen little improvement and he will most likely be fitted for a helmet next month. So, in addition to the issue of safety (which should be the greatest concern), the rock n play also can contribute to requiring the use of a helmet which is not only expensive but I’m concerned it will be very uncomfortable for my son.


  42. Bobbi Says:

    If babies are placed on their bellies on a flat sleep positioner they’re face could get
    on the stomach so lay them on their back its comfortable for them and If their able to roll over that’s a plus
    Being around cigarette smoke after being born or before being born could cause sids
    Sleeping in the same bed as the parents which could cause suffocation and/or strangulations
    Soft bedding in the crib or a lot of bedding or cloth
    Multiple births twins’ brother or sister Etc.
    Mothers who smoke or use illegal drugs
    Also don’t use a sleep positioner to keep them on their back


  43. zelda shingler Says:

    I am wondering why then do they keep newborns at an incline position at the hospital? All of the bassinets at hospitals these days our elevated? Would love an answer please.


  44. Dr. Roy Says:

    Zelda, newborns should not routinely be kept at an incline in the nursery. There may be specific reasons why some might, but certainly not most or all. I don’t know what the policy is at the hospital you’re talking about– certainly at the places I work, babies are flat in their bassinets as recommended. You may wish to inquire at the hospital itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Guest Says:

    Hi Dr. Roy, I am a RN that has been a SIDS counselor in the past. I have been doing Newborn Home Visits for many years now & have managed a program since 2000. I have been collecting data on unsafe sleeping since 2011. We have been following a trend of rising usage of the Rock N’ Play Sleeper. I was very worried & made a presentation to the Pediatricians where I work in Dec. 2013. 2/2014 I was doing a home visit & the mom said as I was educating her on the risks of the Rock N’ Play Sleeper that she had been told by her Pediatrician that a baby had just died in a Rock N’ Play Sleeper. I contacted the Pediatrician & she confirmed that this was true. The Rock N’ Play Sleeper does not meet any of the AAP guidelines. I have called Fisher Price & CSPC. Currently, there are not any guidelines for a sleeper such as we have for infant cribs. It also causes plagiocephaly & torticollis. I have worked with a PT & we have created an equipment education sheet. I have information distributed now at the OBGYN offices & our hospital prenatal groups. We educated in lactation, parent & baby groups, breastfeeding group, on the floors & on our visits. The Pediatricians also educate in their offices. I can not seem to make our stats decrease on unsafe sleeping largely due to the constant use of the Rock N’ Play Sleeper. I work closely with the DHHS in our state & now VNAs in the state are also concerned so I have passed on my equipment sheet to them. The box of the Rock N’ Play Sleeper says Nighttime sleeper & playtime seat. It is not a good product. Dangerous for infants putting them at high risk for dying. Also, many infants have needed PT at 3 months where this equipment has contributed to plagiocephaly & torticollis. I was afraid an infant would die & one did. Now I am concerned that there will be more before this situation is corrected.

    I have read your discussions in the Pediatric Insider 2013 & 2014. I wanted you to know that there had been a death in a Rock N’ Play Sleeper. Your concerns & warnings are valid. I was concerned & hoping that there would not be a death now I just want to prevent more.

    I have spoken to the Cribs for kids as their message is aligned with AAP. http://www.cribsforkids is a very good web site. I know parents get a lot of information now on Facebook & this Rock N’ Play Sleeper trend has been a hard one to stop.


  46. […] name all of the potential napping places you would let my baby sleep in- swing, seat, couch, chair, rock n play, crib etc. (Note- none of these are okay except the crib or bassinet) While you may employ some of […]


  47. […] of SIDS. None. Not the breathable mattresses, which I wrote about for Slate. Not the Rock n’ Play. Not baby swings or carseats. The market for infant care products is largely unregulated, Dr. Moon […]


  48. […] The AAP doesn’t recommend these inclined rockers for overnight sleep. They’re associated with flat heads and neck problems. But that’s not us – we didn’t achieve “overnight sleep” with this rocker, and we didn’t drop her in it recreationally. […]


  49. […] messaged the day-care provider about using a rock’n’play for sleeping so that Shepard could be on an incline instead of having to lie on his back. […]


  50. […] messaged the day-care provider about using a rock’n’play for sleeping so that Shepard could be on an incline instead of having to lie on his back. […]


  51. […] messaged the day-care provider about using a rock’n’play for sleeping so that Shepard could be on an incline instead of having to lie on his back. […]


  52. […] have spoken up about concerns about the Rock n’ Play as a sleep surface. Back in 2013, Dr. Roy Benaroch posted excerpts from an email exchange he’d had with Fisher-Price on his blog…. He stated several concerns, including that that incline did not allow babies to sleep in the […]


  53. […] In a 2013 blog post, Dr. Roy Benaroch, a pediatrician in Atlanta, wrote his first recommendation against using it. He cited sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics as reason enough not to use the Rock ’n Play. […]


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