December 31, 2019 — By Wendy Sachs

Recently, major retailers Amazon, WalMart, Buy Buy Baby and others have pulled all infant inclined sleepers from their websites and in store locations. These sleepers are popular with many parents as they offer a spot for babies to snooze or nap and are often portable.

But the medical research shows that infants are safest when they sleep close to an adult (in parents’ bedroom or close by during daytime naps) on a firm flat surface such as a crib or bassinet. Infants should have a tight fitted sheet only with no bumpers, blankets or pillows. Infants should not sleep on couches, cushioned chair or with soft toys.

Many products are marketed to sleep deprived parents as solutions to get babies to sleep. Wedge pillows, rock and play chairs and even though we have known for some time that crib bumpers are dangerous, they are still on the market. Sometimes, the products are suggested for short naps or only for supervised use, but the AAP has found that they are still dangerous. The ever popular Fisher-Price Rock and ’n Play Sleeper was finally recalled by the company after a huge investigation by Consumer Reports and other sources. To date, more than 73 infant deaths have been linked to these inclined sleepers.

And we need to be careful for the whole first year of baby’s life. While SIDS risk is heightened for the first 4 months, the risks with soft bedding continues to age 1 year.

The reason these sleepers and soft bedding is dangerous has to do with the infant’s airway, which can become compressed and cause suffocation. Not only can baby slump down and compromise their airflow, they also can roll over partially or completely and asphyxiate. You may ask yourself about your infant car seat, also at an incline. Infant car seats, installed at correct angle and with 5 point harness are safer to use but NOT for prolonged sleep. Car seats should only be used when baby is in the car and not a place to nap in the home. The harness does hold baby in a safer position, but still not the safest way for sleep. If you take a long car ride, you should stop occasionally to check on baby and make sure your car seat is installed correctly.