Baby Products Safety Hazards, Bassinets, Cribs

7 Reasons Infant Sleep Products Are Unsafe

Mary Stephens

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The US CPSC Rule on Infant Sleep Products(ISP) went into effect in June 2022 and paved the way for the ban of all “products marketed or intended to provide a sleeping accommodation for an infant up to 5 months of age, and that are not already subject to one of CPSC’s mandatory standards for infant sleep” as states on CPSC’s website.

What is the ISP RUle?

The Infant Sleep Products (ISP) Rule is a regulatory rule that targets products that are not subject to any other mandatory standards for infant sleep. It aims to eliminate hazardous products for infants from the market and the regulation specifically pertains to sleep products designed for infants up to 5 months old, providing them with a safe sleeping environment.

Below are all the current CPSC standards on different sleep products;

As you can see, none of the current rules apply to inclined sleep products or sleep positioners such as baby loungers.

The ISP Rule primarily applies to two categories of infant sleep products.

  • The first category includes inclined infant sleep products with a sleep surface angle greater than 10 degrees.
  • The second category consists of non-inclined infant sleep products, such as baby boxes, in-bed sleepers, baby nests and pods, compact/travel bassinets, and infant tents. Additionally, these “flat products” are also subject to the Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles. This standard mandates that these products have a stand, meet stability requirements and have a side height of at least 7.5 inches.

The ban specifically covers inclined sleep products such as baby loungers that were sold for $40 to $120 and baby hammocks that were retailed at prices ranging from $50 to $300.

Other non-inclined sleep products that the ISP rule covered include;

  • Baby pods and baby nests
  • Soft-sided travel bassinets and travel beds
  • Hand-held carriers sold as sleep products
  • In-bed sleepers with lower floor.

It’s worth noting that crib wedges, sleep positioners, and sleep wedge pillows fall outside the scope of the ISP rule. CPSC notes on its website that these products could be classified as “medical devices” under the FDA’s jurisdiction. It goes further to state that both CPSC and FDA strongly advise against using crib wedges, sleep positioners, or sleep wedge pillows for infant sleep due to the potential risk of suffocation associated with these products.

How 10+ Degrees Incline Risk of Infant Deaths:

An inclined sleeper over 10 degrees can be considered dangerous for infants primarily due to the increased risk of positional asphyxia, suffocation, and other sleep-related hazards. Here’s why an inclination angle beyond 10 degrees can pose risks:

  1. Airway Obstruction: When an infant’s head is elevated at an angle greater than 10 degrees, there’s a higher likelihood of their head falling forward, potentially leading to chin-to-chest positioning. This position can restrict the airway, making it difficult for the infant to breathe properly, especially if they lack the strength or ability to reposition themselves.
  2. Increased Risk of Sliding or Rolling: A steeper incline increases the risk of the infant sliding or rolling downwards within the sleeper. If the infant’s face becomes pressed against the inclined surface or soft padding, it can obstruct their airway and lead to suffocation.
  3. Excessive Flexion of Neck: A greater inclination angle can cause excessive flexion of the infant’s neck, which may compromise the airway by narrowing the passage or obstructing airflow. This can be particularly concerning for newborns and young infants whose neck muscles are not fully developed.
  4. Unstable Positioning: Inclined sleepers with angles exceeding 10 degrees may lack stability, increasing the risk of tipping over or shifting unexpectedly. An unstable sleeper can trap the infant in a hazardous position, further obstructing their airway and increasing the risk of injury or suffocation.
  5. Contradiction to Safe Sleep Guidelines: Pediatric organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that infants sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related incidents. An inclined sleeper with an angle over 10 degrees contradicts these safe sleep guidelines.

7 Ways ISPs such as Lounges are Unsafe:

Baby loungers, particularly those that are not designed or used properly, can pose safety risks to infants. Here are several reasons why baby loungers might be unsafe:

  1. Risk of Suffocation: If a baby is left unattended or not properly supervised in a lounger, there is a risk that they may shift position and their face could become pressed against the soft padding or sides of the lounger, leading to suffocation.
  2. Positional Asphyxia: Some loungers may have designs that can inadvertently restrict a baby’s airflow if they are positioned incorrectly or if the baby’s head falls into a position where breathing becomes difficult.
  3. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Risk: Placing a baby in an inclined position for extended periods, as some loungers do, can increase the risk of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants should sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  4. Falls: If a baby lounger is placed on an elevated surface, there’s a risk that the baby could roll or wiggle off, leading to falls and potential injuries.
  5. Product Defects or Poor Construction: Some baby loungers may have design flaws, manufacturing defects, or use materials that are not up to safety standards, increasing the risk of injury to the baby.
  6. Overheating: If a baby is swaddled or positioned in a lounger with excessive padding, it could lead to overheating, which is associated with an increased risk of SIDS.
  7. Unsafe Sleep Environment: Using a baby lounger as a sleep surface may create an unsafe sleep environment, especially if it’s not by safe sleep guidelines recommended by pediatricians and organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mechanics of how ISPs create an unsafe sleep environment:

Inclined sleep positioners can contribute to suffocation through several mechanisms, which involve the positioning of the infant’s body and potential obstruction of the airway. Here’s a detailed explanation of how this can occur:

  1. Head Positioning: In an inclined sleeper, the infant’s head is often positioned at an angle higher than the rest of the body. If the infant’s head falls forward or sideways, it can cause their chin to press against their chest or shoulder, potentially obstructing the airway. This position can restrict airflow, making it difficult for the infant to breathe adequately.
  2. Neck Flexion and Airway Compression: The inclined position of the sleeper can lead to neck flexion, where the infant’s chin moves closer to the chest. This can cause the airway to become partially or fully compressed, leading to restricted airflow. Additionally, the soft tissues in the infant’s neck may collapse inward, further obstructing the air passage.
  3. Sliding or Rolling: Inclined sleepers may not provide adequate support to prevent infants from sliding or rolling into hazardous positions. If the infant shifts downward or sideways within the sleeper, their face could become pressed against the inclined surface or against soft padding, increasing the risk of suffocation.
  4. Soft Surfaces and Cushioning: Many inclined sleepers have soft surfaces and cushioning to provide comfort to the infant. However, these features can also pose suffocation risks. If the infant’s face becomes pressed against the soft padding, it may restrict airflow, leading to suffocation. Additionally, soft surfaces can mold around the infant’s face, making it more difficult for them to move and breathe freely.
  5. Unstable Positioning: Some inclined sleepers may have design features that make them unstable or prone to tipping over. If the sleeper shifts or tilts unexpectedly, it can cause the infant’s head to become trapped or wedged in a position that obstructs the airway, increasing the risk of suffocation.

Other ISP Regulations:

  • Surface Coating Limit: Infant sleep products must not be painted with paint containing more than 90 ppm (0.009 percent) lead.
  • Lead Content Limit: Infant sleep products must not contain greater than 100 ppm (0.01 percent) total lead content in any accessible component part.
  • Phthalate Content Limits: Plasticized components of infant sleep products must not contain more than 0.1 percent of the following eight specified phthalates: DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIBP, DPENP, DHEXP, and DCHP.
  • Testing and Certification: Infant sleep products, like all products for children 12 years of age or younger, must be tested by a CPSC-accepted, third-party laboratory for compliance with the Safety Standard for Infant Sleep Products and other applicable children’s product safety rules, such as lead paint and lead content. A domestic manufacturer (or importer) must issue a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) specifying each applicable rule and indicating compliance.
  • Product and Outer Package Labeling Requirements: Durable infant or toddler products, including infant sleep products, must have specific labeling information, including tracking labels, permanently marked on the product and packaging.
  • Product Registration Card Requirement: Durable infant or toddler products require additional product markings and a product registration card attached. Refer to this chart for a summary of specific labeling and registration requirements.

Key reasons baby loungers are unsafe:

Baby loungers are designed for infants to sleep or rest in, but they can pose significant safety risks. Some of the key reasons why baby loungers are considered unsafe include:

  1. Suffocation Hazard: Baby loungers have a soft, padded surface that can increase the risk of suffocation if an infant rolls over or turns their head to the side while sleeping.
  2. Entrapment Risks: Some baby loungers have raised sides or edges that can pose an entrapment risk for infants, especially if they are able to move and roll over.
  3. Incorrect Use: Many parents may not be aware of the potential dangers associated with using a baby lounger and may use it in ways that increase the risk of injury or suffocation for their child.
  4. Lack of Safety Standards: Currently, there are no specific safety standards in place for baby loungers, making it difficult for manufacturers to ensure their products are safe and compliant.
  5. Recall History: In recent years, there have been several recalls of baby loungers due to safety concerns, further highlighting the need for stricter regulations and safety standards.

Deaths linked to ISPs:

In 2021, Bobby Company issued a recall of 3.3 million units of infant loungers following a warning from the CPSC in October 2020. This warning came after Consumer Reports discovered at least 28 infant deaths between 2012 and 2018 linked to nursing pillows and baby loungers produced by various companies, including Boppy.

How to transition if you’re currently using ISPs:

If you are currently using an inclined sleep product for your baby, it is important to transition them to a safe sleeping environment as soon as possible. Here are a few tips to help with the transition:

  1. Switch to a crib or bassinet: The safest sleeping option for infants is a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards. These products have been specifically designed to provide a safe sleeping environment for babies.
  2. Create a firm and flat surface: Use a tight-fitting sheet on the mattress of the crib or bassinet to ensure there are no gaps or loose bedding that could pose a suffocation risk.
  3. Avoid using soft objects in the sleeping area: This includes pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and any other loose items that could potentially block a baby’s airway.
  4. Practice safe sleep practices: Always place your baby on their back to sleep, and make sure there are no items in the crib or bassinet that could obstruct their breathing.
  5. Seek guidance from a healthcare professional: If you have any concerns about transitioning your baby to a new sleeping environment, consult with your child’s pediatrician for guidance and support.

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