FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are warning people not to use sleep positioners for their babies, because there is a chance they could suffocate. In the last 13 years, at least 12 babies between the ages of one and four months have died when they suffocated in positioners, or when they became trapped between a sleep positioner and the side of their crib or bassinet.
People have been using positioners to keep their babies in certain positions when they sleep. Some positioners are flat pads with side bolsters. Others are inclined like a wedge, or have some other design. These products may be promoted to reduce acid reflux, minimize "flat head" syndrome, or even to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But there is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims.
Many parents and other people who care for babies know that babies should be placed on their backs to sleep. This reduces the chance of SIDS by nearly half. They may worry about how to make sure their babies stay on their backs. But once babies are able to roll over onto their tummies, it is okay to leave them there, because babies who can flip over can also turn their heads, which reduces their chance of suffocation. However, if babies flip over or scoot around while in a sleep positioner, they can have a hard time freeing their faces from the device or they can become trapped between the positioner and the side of their crib or bassinet.
So do not use infant sleep positioners. They are not necessary, and they can be dangerous. Put your baby to sleep on his or her back, and keep the crib free of pillows, comforters, quilts and toys. That way, your baby has room to safely move or turn while sleeping. Here is an easy way to remember - follow the ABCs of safe sleep - Alone on the Back in a bare Crib.
And if you have any questions, contact your child's healthcare provider.
FDA Patient Safety News: December 2010
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