Infant Sleep Positioners: FDA Warning – Risk of Suffocation

ISSUE: FDA is reminding parents and caregivers not to put babies in sleep positioners. These products—sometimes also called “nests” or “anti-roll” products—can cause suffocation (a struggle to breathe) that can lead to death.

In the last 13 years, the federal government has received 12 reports of babies known to have died from suffocation associated with their sleep positioners. Most of the babies suffocated after rolling from the side to the stomach. In addition to the deaths, the commission has received dozens of reports of babies who were placed on their back or side in the positioners only to be found later in hazardous positions within or next to the product.

To reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs, positioned on a firm, empty surface. This surface should not contain soft objects, toys, pillows, or loose bedding.

BACKGROUND: The most common types of sleep positioners feature bolsters attached to each side of a thin mat and wedges to elevate the baby’s head. The sleep positioners are intended to keep a baby in a desired position while sleeping. They are often used with infants under 6 months old.

RECOMMENDATION: Parents and other caregivers should not put babies in sleep positioning products.

  • NEVER use infant sleep positioners. Using this type of product to hold an infant on his or her side or back is dangerous.
  • NEVER put pillows, blankets, loose sheets, comforters, or quilts under a baby or in a crib. These products also can be dangerous. Babies don’t need pillows and adequate clothing—instead of blankets—can keep them warm.
  • ALWAYS keep cribs and sleeping areas bare. That means you should also never put soft objects or toys in sleeping areas.
  • ALWAYS place a baby on his or her back at night and during nap time. An easy way to remember this is to follow the ABCs of safe sleep: “Alone on the Back in a bare Crib.”

ISSUE: FDA is reminding parents and caregivers not to put babies in sleep positioners. These products—sometimes also called “nests” or “anti-roll” products—can cause suffocation (a struggle to breathe) that can lead to death.

In the last 13 years, the federal government has received 12 reports of babies known to have died from suffocation associated with their sleep positioners. Most of the babies suffocated after rolling from the side to the stomach. In addition to the deaths, the commission has received dozens of reports of babies who were placed on their back or side in the positioners only to be found later in hazardous positions within or next to the product.

To reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs, positioned on a firm, empty surface. This surface should not contain soft objects, toys, pillows, or loose bedding.

BACKGROUND: The most common types of sleep positioners feature bolsters attached to each side of a thin mat and wedges to elevate the baby’s head. The sleep positioners are intended to keep a baby in a desired position while sleeping. They are often used with infants under 6 months old.

RECOMMENDATION: Parents and other caregivers should not put babies in sleep positioning products.

NEVER use infant sleep positioners. Using this type of product to hold an infant on his or her side or back is dangerous.
NEVER put pillows, blankets, loose sheets, comforters, or quilts under a baby or in a crib. These products also can be dangerous. Babies don’t need pillows and adequate clothing—instead of blankets—can keep them warm.
ALWAYS keep cribs and sleeping areas bare. That means you should also never put soft objects or toys in sleeping areas.
ALWAYS place a baby on his or her back at night and during nap time. An easy way to remember this is to follow the ABCs of safe sleep: “Alone on the Back in a bare Crib.”

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report
  • Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

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