The list of products out there related to infant sleep is long. It can feel overwhelming to decide what products might work best for your baby when it comes to getting that precious sleep. Do recommendations of products other parents have used swirl in your mind as you plan for your new baby? Maybe you have some generous relatives or friends determined to pass along their used but ‘not ready for the landfill’ hand-me-down baby items used to help their infant sleep. Did you find yourself registering for a variety of products you thought might help you avoid the sleep struggles you may have heard other new parents talking about? Sifting through the marketing, recommendations and opinions of others when it comes to sleep products for your baby can feel overwhelming, but knowing what the safety recommendations are regarding these products doesn’t have to be. As a Mama Coach, my goal is to educate parents and caretakers to help them make the best informed decisions for their family. So let’s break it down a bit when it comes to what products you can eliminate from your list for safe sleep.
You may have heard of the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign enacted in the 1990s to help reduce the incidents of sleep related deaths among infants. ‘Back to Sleep’ has since become the gold standard for safe infant sleep in the United States. To sum it up, this campaign states that infants should be placed on their back on a firm, flat surface (such as a crib, bassinet, play yard or bedside sleeper) approved by existing federal safety standards. There should be no bumpers of any kind, pillows, blankets or stuffed toys in bed with the baby. Infants should sleep in the same room as their parents or caretakers in their own sleep space up to 6 months of age. Okay, so what happens when your baby will only sleep on your chest when being held? What if you rely on that one swing or baby carrier that always does the trick to help get your little one down for a nap? As a Mama Coach, I get questions like this often. If you’re questioning what products to avoid to help keep your little one sleeping safe and sound, you’re not alone!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents use products that meet existing federal safety standards for cribs, bassinets, play yards and bedside sleepers and should not use products that aren’t specifically marketed for sleep. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the governing body in the United States providing safety information for infant products. Sitting and positioning devices, car seats, swings, infant carriers, strollers and slings are not recommended for infant sleep-particularly for infants under 4 months of age. Babies can get into trouble in these devices when they are unable to protect their airway due to improper positioning. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever allow your baby to fall asleep in one of these devices. You can’t avoid your baby falling asleep on that car ride or stroller walk, but they should be fully supervised if they do fall asleep and be moved to a safe sleep environment as soon as possible.
The CPSC specifically warns against sleeping in infant loungers, because infants often fall asleep in them even though they aren’t marketed for sleep. Among the list of unsafe sleep products on the Healthychildren.org website are the Podster, Podster Plush, Bummzie, and Podster Playtime infant loungers. Other devices such as rocking sleepers, inclined sleepers and gliding soother seats have been recalled due to risk of suffocation including the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide by Fisher-Price and the 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Gliders, the SwaddleMe By Your Bed Inclined Sleeper by Summer Infant, and all rocking sleepers by Kids II have been recalled. The Safe Sleep For Babies Act passed May, 2022 will help eliminate unsafe sleep products from being sold at retail locations, but remember to check the CPSC website or saferproducts.gov for recalls on items that may have been passed on, purchased second hand or in use from an older sibling.
I know a lot of emphasis can be placed on swaddling for new babies and their parents. Swaddling can be helpful to keep those newborn reflexes (like the ‘startle’ or moro reflex) in check as your new baby learns to fall asleep and stay asleep during the early weeks following birth. However, swaddling isn’t necessarily a practice recommended for safe sleep and has not been shown to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). American guidelines from the AAP are to stop swaddling infants when they begin showing signs of learning to roll, usually around 3-4 months of age and possibly sooner if your baby is a mover and a shaker! Instead of swaddling, use an appropriately sized wearable blanket or sleep sack to keep your baby comfortable and contained. Do not use weighted swaddles-these are not recommended for use by the AAP.
Another type of device I get a lot of questions about is the at-home cardiorespiratory monitor. You may find yourself drawn to the idea of using an at-home cardiorespiratory monitor as a tool to provide peace of mind regarding your baby’s safety or because of claims they reduce the risk of SIDS. However, these devices aren’t the same as the ones used in the hospital setting. There is concern these monitors may actually create a false sense of security when it comes to safe infant sleep, and they are not recommended for use as a substitute for following the recommended safe sleep practices.
As parents, we all want our babies to get safe sleep. And…sometimes it can feel like we have to make the tough choice between safety OR sleep! Make sure to reach out to your pediatrician and your local Mama Coach if your little one is struggling with sleep. Remember, you’ve got this! As Mama Coaches, we’ve got your back when it comes to back-to-sleep!