Infant Sleepers Tied to Recent Rise in Infant Deaths

Your baby’s favorite sleep space may put your infant at risk for injury or death. Learn about the recent rise in infant deaths and how you can keep your baby safe while sleeping.

By Andrea Pisani Babich
Baby crying

At least 12 infant deaths have been linked to infant in-bed sleepers between 2012 and 2018 according to a Consumer Reports investigation. This news comes shortly after the release of a report from the Consumer Products Safety Commission acknowledging that at least 73 deaths have been associated with inclined infant sleep products, another type of sleeper that elevates babies at an angle up to 30 degrees.

According to Consumer Reports several of these products have been recalled, but many still remain on the market and are sold as places for babies to sleep.

Recent recalls of infant sleepers include the following:

  • According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million Rock ’n Play sleepers in April 2019 after it was revealed that over 30 infant deaths occurred since 2009 while using the sleeper.
  • Approximately 694,000 Kids II Rocking Sleepers were recalled in April 2019, according to the CPSC. The recall came after reports of five infant deaths occurring in the sleepers since 2012.
  • The CPSC announced in August 2019 the recall of two more inclined sleepers. The Eddie Bauer Slumber and Soothe Rock Bassinet and the Disney Baby Doze Bassinet—24,000 sleepers in all—were recalled as a precautionary measure after infant deaths were linked to other similar products.
  • In December of 2012, the CPSC took legal action to seek the mandatory recall of the Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill products resulting in the voluntary recall by the maker, Baby Matters, LLC, as part of a settlement in the case. Since the introduction of the products in 2009, the CPSC has received at least 92 incident reports involving the Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill products, including five infant deaths.

Dangers of Infant Sleepers

Inclined sleepers are thought to put babies at risk of asphyxiation due to their heads’ falling forward and closing off their airways. As a result, CR believes that no inclined sleeper is a safe place to leave a baby unattended.

In-bed sleepers pose a risk to babies if they have soft or plush sides that can allow parents to roll over onto their infants or can suffocate babies. And unlike bassinets, cribs, play yards, or bed-side sleepers, in-bed sleepers are not regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. As a result, in-bed sleepers continue to pose “an immediate and constant risk to a child sleeping in one of them,” says Ben Hoffman, M.D., chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention’s executive committee.

In light of the increasing death toll associated with inclined infant sleepers and in-bed sleepers, the CPSC has recently proposed that all infant sleepers meet strict federal safety standards similar to those imposed on cribs, bassinets, play yards, and bed-side sleepers. Those standards would include banning infant sleepers with a seatback angle greater than 10 degrees, which would eliminate all inclined infant sleepers currently on the market and keep new products of this kind from entering the market.

Safe Sleep Guidelines

The problem of reconciling infants’ polyphasic sleep with sleepy parents’ need for a solid eight hours is not a new one. Unfortunately, some of the solutions have at least contributed to an increase in the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) cases since 2016. SIDS is a term used to describe any sudden, unexpected death of an infant that has no clear cause.

According to the Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as many as 3500 infant deaths occur annually from SIDS and other causes like accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. As a result, in 2016 the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations for safe sleep practices to include the following:

  • Position babies on their backs on a firm sleep surface in a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. Do not use wedges or positioners marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. The sleep space should be free from all pillows, covers, bumpers, stuffed animals, or other soft objects that could pose a breathing obstruction.
  • Babies should share a bedroom with their parents but on a separate sleep space. Research has shown that room sharing decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by as much as 50%.
  • Avoid babies’ exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
  • Keep babies current with recommended vaccinations.
  • Breastfeed babies for at least six months.
  • Offer pacifiers to babies at naptime and bedtime.

Parents should also read the manufacturer’s guidelines on any infant product where babies might fall asleep. Some products have been relabeled to eliminate the word “sleep” but that doesn’t mean babies will be safe to fall asleep in them. If babies do fall asleep in a product not approved for sleep, relocate your sleeping baby to a firm, flat surface free from soft objects and covers.

Other Sources:

  • U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission:
  • U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission:
  • CNN:
  • U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission:

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