Since the “Back to Sleep” campaign began in 1994, rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have dropped significantly. But the fact that SIDS remains the leading cause of death among babies 1 to 12 months of age can keep plenty of new parents up at night—and prompt them to seek out anything that could keep their infants safe while snoozing. Using a sleep positioner might sound like a sensible strategy, but it could be quite the opposite. In September 2010, citing a dozen reports of suffocation related to the supposed safety devices, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers to stop using them. “A lot of sleep positioners are very soft and mold to the baby’s shape, and that’s exactly what you don’t want,” notes Rachel Y. Moon, MD, a pediatrician and SIDS researcher at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on SIDS. Bottom line: The safest sleep environment is a crib with a firm mattress, a tight-fitted sheet and nothing else but baby inside.
—Alexa Joy Sherman