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Sleep Positioners Are Deemed Unsafe

By AWHONN Editorial Staff

Sleep Positioners Are Deemed Unsafe

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have warned consumers to stop using infant sleep positioners. Over the past 13 years, there have been 12 reports of infants between the ages of 1 – 4 four months who died when they suffocated in sleep positioners.

Most of the infants suffocated after rolling from a side to stomach position. CPSC has also received dozens of reports of infants who were placed on their backs or sides in sleep positioners, only to be found later in potentially hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners.

“The deaths and dangerous situations resulting from the use of infant sleep positioners are a serious concern,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners, so that children can have a safer sleep.”

The two main types of infant sleep positioners are flat mats with side bolsters or inclined (wedge) mats with side bolsters. Both types of sleep positioners typically claim to help keep infants on their backs and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The CPSC and the FDA are unaware of any scientific studies demonstrating that infant positioners prevent SIDS or other life-threatening harm.

Sleep positioners also typically claim to do one or all of the following: aid in food digestion to ease colic or the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and prevent flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly). But FDA believes any benefit from using these devices to ease GERD or prevent plagiocephaly is outweighed by the risk of suffocation.

Parents and child care providers are recommended to:

STOP using sleep positioners. Using a positioner to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep is dangerous and unnecessary.
NEVER put pillows, infant sleep positioners, comforters, or quilts under a baby or in a crib.
ALWAYS place an infant on his or her back at night and during nap time. To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing infants to sleep on their backs and not their sides.


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