Federal authorities are advising parents and caretakers not to let babies sleep in rockers, pillows, car seats, or any other product that holds an infant at an incline -- with their head higher than their feet.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 73 infant deaths from January 2005 to June 2019 related to infant reclined sleep products. Over that time period, more than 1,100 incidents were also reported to the commission.
According to Fox23 News, an independent expert, Dr. Erin Mannen, a mechanical engineer specializing in biomechanics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, was hired by CPSC to test the design of the sleepers. She found that none of the sleep products her team tested are "safe for infant sleep." Mannen and her team also found that lying on an incline activates the baby’s stomach muscles and makes it easier for them to lift their heads -- all of which makes it more likely that they’ll turn over, even if they’ve never done it before. Also, the "soft and plush-like sleep surfaces pose dangers to infants," the statement read. A surface that is inclined 10 degrees or lower is likely safe.
The "bare is best" and "back to sleep" models are the best ways put to children to sleep, the commission advised; that is, parents or caretakers should not add blankets or pillows to the child's sleeping environment and should always place them on their backs. CPSC also warned against using infant car seats or bouncers to put infants to sleep.
The warning, which was issued last Thursday, did not name any specific company. But the commission's announcement cautions against using any such product, including ones that haven't been recalled, according to the statement.
Several inclined sleepers have been recalled recently, according to the commission. In April, CPSC recalled Fisher-Price's Rock 'n Play Sleepers after it said 32 sleep-related infant deaths were linked to the product. The general manager of Fisher-Price, Chuck Scothon, released a statement after the recall in April:
"A child fatality is an unimaginable tragedy. For almost 90 years, Fisher-Price has made the safety of children our highest priority. In recent days, questions have been raised about the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper. We stand by the safety of our products."
"However, due to reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall of the Rock 'n Play Sleeper in partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission," the statement continued.