According to an estimate between 1992 and 2010, there have been approximately 700 deaths involving infants 12 months or younger related to baby pillows and cushions placed in or near a baby’s sleep surroundings. Almost 50% of the infant crib deaths and every one out of three bassinet deaths are caused by the suffocations caused by baby pillows, thick quilts and overcrowding in a baby’s sleep environment.

A safe crib is the safest space for a baby to sleep in. Any crib that conforms to the CPSC’s strong federal safety standards may be regarded as safe and it should be uncluttered. This means that there should be no baby pillows, no thick blankets or quilts, no stuffed toys whether small or large and no child carrying gizmos, recliners or sleep positioners.

A number of parents must have heard about the Back-to-Sleep campaign to mitigate the risk of SIDS. Making the infant sleep on one’s back can go a long way in preventing suffocation. Ensure that the baby is put to sleep on his or her back on a hard, tight fitting and smooth mattress or any surface that includes a bassinet and play area. Crib mattresses ought to be tightly fit as well.

Why should my baby not use a pillow?

Babies and adults are significantly different from each other. A baby’s nose and mouth can be blocked with a baby pillow which in turn can cause suffocation. Research shows that there are nearly 32 infants succumb to death due to baby pillows used as mattresses or to support an infant’s head. Majority of the babies who die in this manner are not more than three months old.

Once your baby is one and a half years old, you can begin using baby pillows. This is just about the right age to move your baby from the crib to the toddler bed or a mattress on the floor.

My baby will catch cold if we do not use thick blankets.

If you are worried about colder temperature in your baby’s room, clad him or her in warm clothes. A thin blanket can be used but avoid using a thick blanket or quilt at all costs. Infants can have their faces stranded in blankets and quilts which can cause suffocation.

Is a sleep positioning device recommended?

sleep positioning baby pillows and bedding

It was 2010 when CPSC and US Food and Drug Administration began warning parents to abstain from using sleep positioners. There has been no medical evidence corroborating the claims made by the manufacturers in this regard. There have been at least 4 reports of children of the age between 1 and 4 months suffocating to death in these positioners or when they got stuck between the positioner and one side of a crib or a bassinet. There have also been numerous reports regarding infants who were placed on their backs or sides by their parents in sleep positioners and baby pillows and were later observed to be in dangerous positions within or adjacent to the sleep positioners.

The most important issue associated with these positioners is that they are used to keep a baby on one side which is an unstable position. Infants lying in their beds on their sides and their backs propped up against a sleep positioner are more likely to flip on their bellies. These positioners are designed to ensure that a baby remains in one position and once a baby falls on his or her belly, it becomes difficult for them to get themselves free of this position. Moreover, young babies do not possess the neck strength to move their heads to breathe and hence end up getting suffocated.

Can I put a carrier, car seat, recliner or other item in the crib with my infant in it?

This is a very dangerous practice since any of these products can easily tip over when lying on an uneven surface such as a mattress. There have been instances of babies flipping over the sides of these things and then getting trapped between them and other things in the crib. Since 2003, there have been 9 reports to CPSC regarding infants succumbing to death in car seats, recliners, carriers, baby pillows or bouncy seats that were placed on an uneven surface such as a mattress, sofa, bed or crib.

Is it safe to put toys in the crib, play yard or bassinet?

A clear sleeping environment is what is ideal and safe for an infant.

The toys should be attached to a single side of the crib and that the toys should not come with a cord or strap that can get wrapped around the infant’s neck. Toys should not be hung to protruding parts lest the baby may use them to pull himself up and out of the crib or from which small parts can get detached.

Ensure that you do not place large toys or baby pillows or thick blankets and quilts in your infant’s crib, play yard or bassinet. This is especially true for kids who are four months old or younger.

Do I have to be careful with my baby monitor?

All baby monitors with cords and other items with wires should be placed at least three feet away from the crib. There have been reports of at least seven deaths and three close cases of strangulation due to a video and audio baby monitor cord since 2002. The monitors and the cord were dangerously close to the infants.

What should I do to make my bassinet safe for my infant?

A new rule related to the safety of bassinet is being developed by CPSC. Do not forget to go through the Bassinet Recall List when purchasing or borrowing a bassinet to ensure that the article has not been recalled by the manufacturer. Astutely follow the set up instructions and ensure that all fasteners are secure including all snaps and Velcro. Take care to use only the mattress supplied by the manufacturer for that particular bassinet and ensure that the bassinet is configured appropriately. If the bassinet is assembled in an improper way, it can lead to baggy or collapsed sides, gaps and spacing that are risky regions in which the baby can easily get stuck.

Will my baby not be uncomfortable on those thin play yard mattresses?

baby pillows and bedding

Play yard mattresses are thinner and flexible and addition of extra padding or foam or mattresses to the play yard increases the risk of baby suffocating to death in one of the below mentioned ways:

  1. The baby can have his or her face stuck in the mattress or other soft items
  2. The flexible sides of the mattress are likely to get suppressed due to the additions which tends to create risky gaps between the side and the extra added material in which a baby can get stuck

It is advisable to use only the mattress that was supplied with the play yard. Here is the play pen/play yard recall list to ensure that the product that is being purchased or borrowed has not been recalled by the manufacturer.

Can I put a tent on the crib or play yard to prevent my kid from getting out of it?

Once your infant is able to stand, it is not advisable to use a tent with the crib or a play yard. Crib tents are not designed to prevent children from getting out of the crib or the play yard. There have been reports of children getting stuck in tents that were used to prevent them from coming out of the crib or the play yard. CPSC has received at least 27 such reports of which there was an incident that ended up in the death of the infant and another incident involved a near escape. In the summer of 2012, crib tents were recalled by CPSC. So, avoid using recalled tents at all costs.

I need to lift my baby’s head while he or she is sleeping. Is it advisable to use an additional bedding underneath to have it raised?

Before you begin to place your baby for sleep in a more vertical posture, it is recommended that you consult your physician or paediatrician. If the doctor suggests you to elevate a mattress, ensure that no gaps are formed at any location in the mattress. Also, ensure that the angle is low enough to prevent the baby from rolling or sliding down the mattress.

Should I use a bumper pad?

It is best to place your baby for sleep in a bare crib. CPSC has been successful in ensuring that babies and toddlers are safe from harm by creating stringent crib safety standards and egging people on to keep baby pillows, quilts, thick blankets and sleep positioners out of the crib. Experts are of the view that over-stuffed bumper pads can be dangerous and their examination is under process. We honour the importance that is being afforded by numerous states and cities to the safety of bumper pads, and we promise parents that we will continue to use the best available scientific technology and data to provide them with advice that they can trust.

Is there any age or development milestone when we should stop using a bumper?

Once your baby is able to stand, remove the bumper pads and lower the crib mattress to its lowest position. Toddlers attempt to get out of the crib at all costs. Children are at the risk of falling out of the crib or getting trapped in the bumper.

What are other things apart from baby pillows that I should take into account while setting up my nursery?

Always take care that there are no corded windows near the crib, bedding or furniture as children can endeavour to climb on them, access the cords and get strangled. CPSC highly recommends parents to use cordless window coverings in their homes. Similarly, baby monitor cords, lamp cords, telephone cords and night light cords should be kept at least three feet away from the crib. Children can get the cords wrapped around their necks and get strangled.