Inclined Sleepers: Why Are They So Risky?
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Inclined sleepers continue to make headlines…even after they’ve been recalled! Back in 2020, Graco, Summer Infant, Delta, and Evenflo pulled over 165,000 inclined sleepers from stores 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. Sadly, even after these widespread recalls, babies continue to die. Since the Fisher-Price recall, approximately 70 additional fatalities have been reported, including at least eight that occurred after the initial pull from shelves. And four out of the 15 additional infant deaths tied to the Kids2 Rocking Sleeper occurred after the first recall. 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. And these numbers were all calculated before the more than 80 most recent infant deaths due to inclined, rocking sleepers.
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…
- Baby rocker
- Baby bouncer
- Baby swing
- Baby lounger, nest, or napper
- Baby dock or pod
- Baby sleep positioner
- Nursing pillow
- Car seat
- Adult bed (The AAP’s brand-new sleep guidelines notes the organization is “unable to recommend bed-sharing under any circumstances.”)
- Sofa or chair (Infants are 22 to 67 times more likely to die on these surfaces than when put to sleep in their own crib or bassinet.)
If your little one falls asleep in the car seat or stroller on the way home from an errand, there’s 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?
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 well over 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 or homes. 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 swaddling system keeps babies on their backs (the American Academy of Pediatrics’ number one safe sleep recommendation) to prevent risky rolling. SNOO is considered so safe 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.
More on baby sleep safety:
- Baby Stomach-Sleeping Need-to-Know
- 5 Ways to Make Your Home Safer for Your Sleeping Baby
- SNOO Safety Reminders
- How to Avoid Dangerous Baby Overheating
- When Can Babies Sleep with Blankets?
Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.
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.