Pediatricians, like myself, have been shouting from the rooftops for years: Please, place your sleeping baby in their own flat, firm, and empty bed…on their back! That means, before the first birthday, they need to sleep in a crib or bassinet with no loose blankets, pillows, or other soft objects (like stuffed toys that can cover the face). Still…for many years, baby sleep companies have ignored this sound advice, dealing in unsafe products like padded crib bumpers and inclined sleepers. But now, thanks to a brand-new law, those two risky sleep accessories are officially off the market!

Crib bumpers and inclined sleepers are dangerous for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The Canadian Paediatric Society, and the National Institutes of Health have all recommended against their use. Padded crib bumpers increase suffocation and entrapment and have been linked to more than 100 infant deaths. Likewise, when infants doze off in inclined sleepers, they can roll out and suffocate or slump into a position that closes off their airway. To date, over 100 babies have died in inclined sleep products, too.

Despite these devastating statistics, one in 10 daycare facilities surveyed continued to use inclined sleepers even after they were recalled. And 66% of parents believe bumpers make the crib safer. Many assume crib bumpers will protect their little one from getting their tiny arms and legs stuck between crib slats…but babies don’t need this protection! Getting a leg stuck is an inconvenience, but not a safety threat.

Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that so many people are confused: Padded crib bumpers and older models of inclined sleepers are still on store shelves across the country. Parents, parents-to-be, and caregivers may assume that no store would sell unsafe baby products. But that’s been untrue…until now!

Finally, the Safe Sleep for Babies Act was just signed into law. It bans the manufacturing and sale of dangerous padded crib bumpers and infant inclined sleep products. Manufacturers and retailers have 180 days to comply. In the meantime, you may spy a padded crib bumper or an inclined sleeper lingering at your local baby shop, but just know that they are off limits!

Note: After the ban takes effect, you will continue to see mesh crib bumpers on the market. Though do not pose the same suffocation threat to infants as padded bumpers, the AAP warns that if they come loose, they could present a strangulation risk and babies could get trapped between the liner and mattress.

More good news: Starting in June 2022, all products marketed for infant sleep (younger than 5 months old) must meet the same federal safety standards required for cribs and similar products. (SNOO has met or exceeded all these rules for the past 5 years!)

Laws and bans are instrumental in combating the roughly 3,400 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) that occur each year in the United States. What’s also key? Following all the safe-sleep musts that have all proven to reduce an infant’s risk of SUID. So, in addition to tossing out your padded crib bumper and inclined sleeper, heed this advice:

  • Place your baby to sleep on their back on a firm sleep surface until they’re 12 months old.

  • Put your baby in their own sleep space, free of loose bedding, bumpers, soft toys, and pillows.

  • Swaddle your baby for sleep and stop once they can roll. (In SNOO, swaddled babies are secured on the back, so they can remain safely swaddled for 6 months.)

  • Sleep in the same room as your baby for at least six months.

  • Never co-sleep or sofa-sleep with a baby.

  • If your baby nods off in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, nursing pillow, or pillow-like lounging pad, move them to their crib or bassinet as soon as you can.

  • Offer a pacifier at bedtime. (If breastfeeding, do so after nursing is well established.)

  • Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to smoke.

  • To avoid overheating (another risk factor), keep your little one’s room between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and dress them in just one more layer of clothes than you for sleep (in other words, no need to bundle them up!).

  • Keep your baby up to date on immunizations.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.