New Federal Infant Sleep Safety Standard
June 25, 2021
A Consumer Reports analysis determined that inclined sleepers have been the culprits in at least 92 deaths and more than 1,000 incidents (some of which resulted in serious injuries) among young children. Inclined sleepers create an array of catastrophic hazards: chiefly, that they position an infant’s body at an upward angle between 10 and 30 degrees, which allows the child’s head to fall forward and restricts airflow. Inclined sleepers are also dangerous because babies can roll over and come into contact with the product’s headrest or sides, which can lead to cases of suffocation and other types of major injuries.
Though they may seem safer, flat infant sleeping products pose several dangers as well. In-bed sleepers, for example, have also been linked to numerous preventable infant deaths. After years of investigating the various dangers associated with inclined and flat infant sleeping products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently approved a new federal rule. The rule’s primary goal is to ensure that all infant sleeping products marketed for babies under 5-months-old provide a safe sleeping environment by following certain federal standards. This is the first rule of its kind, since currently there is no federal standard in place that oversees infant sleep products for children in this particular age group.
Banned Infant Sleep Products
When it comes to inclined sleeping products, manufacturers have recalled millions in the last three years alone. Nationwide recalls include nearly 5 million of Fisher-Price’s Rock n’ Play Sleepers, 24,000 Eddie Bauer and Disney rocking inclined sleepers, more than 665,000 Kids II units, and approximately 110,000 Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seats. This list is by no means an exhaustive one; in fact, there are hundreds of thousands of other infant sleeping products that companies have recalled, too. Despite years of recalling dangerous and deadly inclined infant sleeping products, the CPSC did not move to eliminate specific product types until establishing its recent rule. The rule will effectively ban products that fail to meet the CPSC’s mandatory standard for infant sleep, such as travel and compact bassinets, in-bed sleepers, and inclined sleepers.
As you can see, inclined infant sleepers are not the only dangerous products out there. According to the agency’s data, fatal and nonfatal incidents related to infant sleep products tended to follow certain hazard patterns, such as:
- For flat infant sleep products, associated hazards included suffocating on soft structure sides and falling out of the product altogether
- Inclined sleeping products had a variety of design-related issues. Some issues led to children rolling over and asphyxiating (or developing other respiratory complications) while others resulted in physical deformations that cropped up from periods of extended use
The CPSC’s new rule will come into effect in roughly one year. Here are just a few examples of the federal infant sleep standards that the rule will enforce:
- Although the rule will not specifically ban co-sleeping or bed-sharing products, it will place more responsibility on manufacturers. For example, co-sleeping and bed-sharing products will have to meet elevated standards to ensure that they are safe for consumers to use
- Infant sleep products that do not already meet CPSC standards must be tested to confirm that the angle of the sleep surface they provide is 10 degrees or less
- Certain products must comply with the agency’s Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles
Safe Sleep Recommendations for Infants
Data suggests that less than one-third of American babies are put to sleep in products or in the manner that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends for safe sleep. Ensuring that your child sleeps safely should always be a priority. Not only is it fairly simple to observe the AAP’s recommendations, but safe sleep practices also reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Whether you use flat or inclined infant sleep products or not, it is always a good idea to brush up some on the best ways to keep your young ones safe and sound. Here are the academy’s guidelines for safe sleep in infancy:
- Place infant to sleep in a supine position, or where the baby is fully on his or her back until the child reaches one year of age
- Side sleeping is not safe and the academy does not recommend it
- Place infant on a firm sleep surface, like a mattress in a safety-approved crib. The surface should be covered by a fitted sheet and with no other bedding or soft objects present
- Never leave an infant to sleep on a sofa, armchair, or other type of sitting device
- The AAP does not recommend bed sharing with infants, but notes that there are times when a parent may fall asleep while feeding or holding their infant. Evidence suggests that it is less dangerous to fall asleep with an infant in an adult bed than on a sofa or in an armchair
Injured by an Unsafe or Defective Product?
Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers all have a legal duty to produce and/or sell safe products. But all too often, companies disregard their obligations and put value in making a profit over the safety of vulnerable children and their loved ones. If a product caused injuries to your child due to an unsafe design, a manufacturing defect, or the failure to provide proper instructions, you can file a products liability lawsuit. If you would like to learn more about filing a claim, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.
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