Inclined sleepers continue to make headlines…and the news is not good. Back in 2020, Graco, Summer Infant, Delta, and Evenflo recalled over 165,000 inclined sleepers because these types of products led to so many infant deaths. That government’s announcement came on the heels of Fisher-Price’s massive Rock ’n Play recall, which knocked almost 5 million dangerous inclined sleepers off the market in April 2019. And more recently, in June 2022, it was reported that inclined baby rockers were associated with more than a dozen baby deaths. It’s all so devastating. To make sure you’re keeping your little sleep safe, here’s everything you need to know about these life-threatening baby sleepers.

What makes inclined sleepers so unsafe?

Between January 2005 and June 2019, inclined sleepers have been linked to at least 73 infant deaths and 1,000+ incidents, including serious injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A subsequent investigation by the CPSC revealed that none of the inclined beds and swings they tested were safe for sleep. Plus, between 2009 and 2022, at least 14 infants died after falling asleep in inclined rockers from Fisher-Price and Kids2. 

Inclined sleepers—and inclined baby rockers, swings, and bouncy seats—position babies at a steep and unsafe-for-sleep incline ranging from 10 to 30+ degrees! They are the proverbial slippery slope. Here’s why: Babies’ heads are heavy, and their necks are weak, so when their heads inevitably droop down toward their chest when sleepy, their neck muscles are often not strong enough to lift them back up, which can result in suffocation. At the same time, there’s the risk that the inclined sleeper’s restraining belt can potentially slide up and cut off Baby’s airflow and lead to suffocation or strangulation. But that’s not the end of the dangers. Many of the recalled inclined sleepers also feature plush surfaces that pose an extra suffocation risk if your baby leans their face into the soft surface.

Other Unsafe “Sleepers” to Avoid

Placing babies up to a year old to sleep on their backs is the absolute safest sleep position—and the most effective thing you can do to lower your baby’s risk of SIDS. Beyond placing your little one on their back for safe sleep, babies should always be on a firm, flat surface—like in a crib or bassinet—without any pillows, blankets, stuffed toys, or now-banned crib bumpers. This means that babies should never be left to sleep in or on a…

If your little one falls asleep in the car seat or stroller on the way home from an errand, there’s certainly no need to panic. If your trip is short—and an adult has an eye on the baby—you can leave your baby be until you arrive at your destination.

Are inclined sleepers still sold?

The good news: In May 2022, the Safe Sleep for Babies Act was signed into law, which bans two very dangerous infant sleep products: crib bumpers and inclined sleepers. (Together crib bumpers and inclined sleepers have been linked to more than 200 infant deaths.) Now all infant sleep products intended (or marketed) for baby sleep must meet safety standards like those for cribs and bassinets. (This includes in-bed sleepers, baby boxes, sleep hammocks, and small bassinets without a stand, which, all together, have been linked to more than 100 infant deaths.)

Right now, inclined sleepers have been taken off the market, but that doesn’t mean other dangerous inclined baby products, like baby rockers, will suddenly disappear from shelves. It simply means that companies cannot sell inclined baby gear as infant sleep products. So parents need to remain vigilant!

  • DON’T buy or borrow recalled inclined sleepers from second-hand shops, garage sales, or friends and family. (The resale market is totally unregulated.)

  • DON’T allow your baby to sleep in an inclined baby product, such as a baby swing, infant rocker, or bouncy seat.

  • DO move your baby to a safe sleep space as soon as possible if they’ve fallen asleep in an inclined baby sleeper or similar product.

  • DO find out if your daycare facility uses inclined baby products—and urge them to stop—if you have a baby in a care center.

  • DON’T use any baby product that has an incline of greater than 10 degrees.

Is SNOO a safe alternative to risky rocking beds and inclined sleepers?

Yes! In the past, new parents had extended family to help with a new baby, including pitching in on middle-of-the-night rocking and shushing. But that village has all but disappeared, leaving parents exhausted and desperate…so they often turn to unsafe inclined sleepers and baby rockers for help.

Clearly, families need to stop using unsafe baby rockers and any kind of slanted sleeper, but what’s the alternative? That’s exactly why Happiest Baby spent many years working with top engineers to create SNOO. SNOO has not only shown to add sleep (and help tired parents), but SNOO’s safe swaddling system virtually ensures that babies cannot slide or roll into life-threatening positions. In fact, SNOO is the only baby bed that meets the American Academy of Pediatrics’ number one safe sleep recommendation: Keep sleeping babies safely on their back for all naps and all nights. SNOO is so safe, in fact, that over 100 hospitals all over the world choose to place their tiniest patients in SNOO.

If inclined sleepers are unsafe, are SNOO Leg Lifters risky, too?

No! SNOO Leg Lifters were designed with safety as the top priority. While our leg lifters do slightly raise a baby’s head, the elevation is at a safe 2.5 degrees, which is well under the maximum federally recommended limit of 10 degrees. SNOO Leg Lifters can be helpful if your pediatrician recommends elevation for a stuffy nose or reflux.

More on baby sleep safety:

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.