You want to create a nice resting environment for your baby, but certain goods increase their risk of SIDS (SIDS). Learn about seven unsafe sleep items that should never enter your baby’s crib.
New parents will try almost anything to induce sound sleep in their infants. And while you may be tempted to surround them with comfortable blankets and cuddly animals, placing any item in a baby’s cot might create a hazardous sleeping environment.
“Babies are safest when they are sleeping on their back in their own safe sleep space (crib or bassinet) without any toys, blankets, or pillows,” according to Elizabeth Murray, D.O., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and a pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester. This is due to the fact that infants can roll onto or into an object and be unable to roll off, presenting a grave suffocation risk.
According to specialists, even devices that claim to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) should be avoided. Dr. Murray affirms, “If there were a product that could minimize SIDS, physicians would be chanting its praises.” Unfortunately, SIDS fatalities are not always explicable, and they can still occur even when parents take all precautions. Dr. Murray stresses, however, that “unsafe sleep deaths are nearly entirely preventable.”
Safe Sleep Guidelines of the AAP
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following to lower the incidence of sleep-related deaths:
- Putting babies to sleep on their backs.
- Utilizing a solid, level, and non-inclined surface.
- Avoiding sleeping in chairs (such as car seats, strollers, and swings) Breastfeeding
- Pacifier use.
- Staying current on vaccinations.
- Sharing a room (but not a bed) for at least the first six months.
- Nicotine, alcohol, and recreational substances should be avoided.
- Avoiding goods that promise to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Supervised, conscious tummy time
- Stop swaddling when the infant attempts to roll over (usually around 3–4 months).
1. Loose Sheets or Blankets
While placing a clean, snugly fitting fitted sheet on a crib or bassinet mattress is acceptable, you should avoid placing loose sheets or blankets in your infant’s cot. Dr. Murray states that newborns and young infants can suffocate even if a simple sheet is placed over their faces. “This, along with their lack of head control and constant ability to control their hands and roll, explains why objects in the crib could be hazardous.” Use a wearable blanket or sleep sack instead to keep them warm.
Infants do not require pillows to sleep, and pillows pose a suffocation risk. You can add a small pillow or blanket to a toddler’s crib if necessary, but most children don’t need them until they graduate to a bed, according to Dr. Murray.
3. Toys or Stuffed Animals
These adorable-looking stuffed animals pose a significant hazard to your infant if kept in their bed. Don’t place plush animals in the cot until your child has full control of his or her head and body.
“As they near one year of age and are able to fully roll and pull themselves to a standing position, a small plush animal or lovey is probably safe,” adds Dr. Murray. Similarly, pacifiers are fine for all ages of newborns sleeping in a crib but avoid those with stuffed animals attached unless you regularly monitor their sleep.
4. Crib Tents
Crib tents can keep your child safe in their crib while discouraging unwelcome guests (like pets or insects). Yet, despite the fact that they are occasionally marketed as safety devices, they are neither useful nor required for infants, who could become dangerously entangled in the product.
There have been infant deaths and injuries associated with crib tents. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported in 2012 that five retailers voluntarily recalled crib tents and play yard tents owing to strangling and entrapment risks.
5. Crib Bumpers
Fabric pads designed to line the interior of a baby’s crib are called bumpers. These readily accessible devices claim to prevent your infant from striking the crib’s hard sides or slipping through the slats.
Modern cribs, however, are made with tighter slats to eliminate this issue. In addition, the national Safe Sleep for Infants Act of 2021 was passed into law in 2022, making it illegal to manufacture or sell crib bumpers. “We know that crib railings do not injure newborns; thus, crib bumpers are not necessary,” adds Dr. Murray.
6. Sleep Positioning Devices and Wedges
Sleep positioners, which are frequently marketed as “anti-roll” gadgets and sometimes claimed to lessen the risk of SIDS or reflux, have been categorically rejected by sleep experts. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states categorically: “Do not use newborn sleep positioners owing to suffocation risks.”
Sadly, infants who rolled over while using these goods have died; their heads can become stuck in the soft fabric. The FDA has never authorized a sleep positioner that claims to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
7. Bedside Sleepers
A bedside sleeper is a bassinet with a retractable side that is designed to sit next to your bed, facilitating nocturnal feedings. Dr. Murray thinks they may be acceptable if they actually symbolize their own sleep space, meaning adult coverings cannot mistakenly cover the infant.
However, infants have become imprisoned between adult beds and bedside sleepers. Some have suffocated when their parents or blankets rolled on them. In accordance with federal law, bedside sleepers must adhere to the following norms and requirements:
- Conforming to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for safe sleeping conditions (including protection against suffocation, side height, pinching, shearing, stability, small parts, folding, loading, and sharp edges).
- Avoiding safety risks when utilized in alternative modes or configurations.
- Minimum side height on the lower side.
- Having a product disengagement to prevent trapping.
- Possessing fabric-sided holes that are enclosed.
- Possessing items that protect against suffocation and trapping.
- Add cautionary statements.
But, Dr. Murray writes, “They likely give no advantage over a bassinet adjacent to the parent’s bed in terms of ease of care. This is significant since we know that bassinets are safe for infants.”
Regarding your baby’s sleeping environment, it is usually preferable to err on caution. Hence, follow the advice of the AAP: Keep out of your baby’s crib any items that could raise the danger of entrapment, asphyxia, or strangulation. This category includes pillows, blankets, plush animals, and bumper pads. In addition, the AAP recommends sleeping on a level surface, so avoid wedges, positioners, and specialty sleep surfaces.