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Infant sleep items blamed for deaths, Feds add new safety requirements

Most moms aren't putting babies to sleep safely, study says
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 14:06:29-04

They look comfortable and you may have bought one for your baby or grandbaby, but it may not be safe.

There's a whole group of infant sleeping products that are linked to multiple deaths and are being sold without safety regulations.

That's about to change.

Nancy Cowles is with, a non-profit founded on the death of a baby, and has spent years pushing for new infant sleep item regulations.

She says many parents make wrong assumptions about how baby-sleep products are sold.

"If someone is selling a product, especially if it's something for a baby to sleep in, someone has made sure it's safe or it just wouldn't be allowed to be on the market. In fact, that's not true," Cowles says.

While cribs, bassinets, and pack-n-plays must meet government safety requirements before being sold, other infant sleep products do not.

They include incline portable beds, incline sleepers, travel and compact bassinets, and infant hammocks.

Over the years, many have been recalled, linked to rolling or suffocation injuries and deaths.

Last year, Fisher-Price recalled all 4.7 million of its Rock n Roll play sleepers citing 30 infant deaths.

"It's not that they intend them to be dangerous, but they really haven't investigated all the possible hazards. And our children are the guinea pigs," Cowles says.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just decided all products intended or marketed for infant sleep must meet a federal safety standard requirement.

Products will have to be tested by an independent third party for safety before being sold by manufacturers.

"The CPSC will be able to fine them, require them to recall them and to follow up with the individual company," Cowles says.

Learn more about infant product safety at the CPSC cribs and infant products information center.

Cowles hopes it takes away some manufacturers excuses when confronted with safety issues.

"The company would just say well there is no standard, and we think it's safe," she says.

The new rule does not affect items where infants could sleep, but are not intended or marketed for infant sleep, like swings and car seats.

Cowles says it's the incline and soft features that can be the biggest problems for infants while asleep.

She says if you're the parent of an infant and can remember one thing, it is how to put your infant to sleep in the safest way.

"Babies sleep best on their back, in a bare environment like a crib with nothing else in it, on a firm, flat surface," Cowles says.

If you have infant sleep items, make sure to check them for these issues; Check the CPSC website for the latest baby-related safety recalls.

You can also donate to and help them continue fighting for child product safety.