Today, President Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act into law, which prohibits crib bumper pads and inclined sleep products from being manufactured and sold in the U.S. The news comes after the act was passed unanimously in the Senate a few weeks earlier.
The reasoning behind the new law is simple: Both of these types of products are unsafe to use with your little one. Here’s what parents need to know.
Why are crib bumpers and inclined sleepers dangerous?
Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface (such as a crib or bassinet that meets the latest guidelines) with no blankets, bedding, stuffed animals or toys in the crib.
While you might traditionally think of crib bumpers as protective nursery decor, the opposite is sadly true: Crib bumpers have been associated with 113 fatalities from January 1990 to March 2019, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Although they might look harmless, crib bumpers present the risk of suffocation, strangulation and entrapment, and there’s no evidence that they prevent injury for young babies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). What’s more, when your little one gets older and starts pulling up and standing on her own, she might use the bumpers to climb out of the crib, increasing her risk of falling.
Inclined sleepers aren’t safe either, and have tragically been tied to at least 94 deaths, says the AAP. Inclined sleep products (often called baby docks, pods, loungers, nappers or nests) allow babies to sleep at a 30-degree angle — but it’s dangerous for infants to use products that incline more than 10 degrees, according to the CPSC. That’s because babies may fall asleep in positions that restrict their airways, or roll out of the devices and become trapped underneath.
What’s more, inclined sleepers present the risk of suffocation if little ones roll onto their stomachs and can’t lift their heads due to the soft padding which makes breathing difficult, says the AAP.
All of these risk factors are why What to Expect has never recommended crib bumpers or inclined sleeping products.
What about bouncers and rockers?
You might be left wondering if things like baby rockers and bouncers will be recalled — or are safe — based on the new law. These types of products (such as the MamaRoo or the BabyBjörn Bouncer, for instance) are not affected by the law, however, because bouncers and rockers are not designed or intended for sleep.
Under the law, inclined sleepers are defined as products with an inclined sleep surface great than 10 degrees that’s designed as a sleep space for babies up to 1 year old.
Since bouncers and rockers are not meant to be used for infant sleep, they are not subject to the law. As a reminder, here are tips for safely using a bouncer or rocker with your little one from the CPSC:
- Always use the bouncer on the floor, never on elevated surfaces like countertops or tables.
- Never place the bouncer on soft surfaces (like a bed or sofa), since it presents a suffocation risk for babies when bouncers tip over onto them.
- Make sure to always use restraints, adjusting them to fit snugly.
- Stay close by and keep an eye on baby while she’s in the bouncer.
- Stop using the bouncer when your little one can sit up on her own, or when she reaches 20 pounds or the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight.
If you have questions about a specific product, contact the manufacturer or ask your pediatrician for advice.
So what does the new law mean for parents?
Both crib bumpers and inclined sleepers will be considered banned hazardous substances 180 days after the act is enacted, meaning it will be illegal to make or sell either type of product.
That said, because they’re so unsafe, you should still get rid of any inclined sleepers or crib bumpers you may have in your house right away. You should also be mindful when buying secondhand baby gear.
While this news can feel nerve-wracking if you’re used to relying on these kinds of products, remember that all cribs sold in the U.S. are regulated by the CPSC with the latest standards, meaning they’re perfectly safe sleep spaces for your baby all on their own — no bumpers or inlined sleepers needed.
As always, reach out to your child’s pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns, and check out more safe sleep tips for babies.