Sleep Products Play a Role in Infant Deaths in the United States

Sleep Products Play a Role in Infant Deaths in the United StatesIt’s no secret that babies aren’t good sleepers. There are few circumstances where a baby is able to sleep through the night early on in life. Often, they wake up every couple of hours throughout the night. As much of a blessing as it is to have a child, not being able to sleep at night when you have to go to work in the morning is difficult.

That’s why the baby sleep aid industry pulls in $300 million annually. The industry offers products for sleep-deprived parents that cost upwards of $1,000 per product, including the following:

  • $1,500 self-rocking bassinets
  • $3,200 cribs that feature air holes cut into the sides with lasers and acrylic sides
  • Baby pillows
  • Baby loungers
  • In-bed sleepers

Despite the litany of baby sleep aids on the market today, the best way for a baby to sleep is in a crib or bassinet with little to no aids. Why? Because these products run the risk of accidental infant suffocation. A baby should sleep with the bare minimum in their crib or bassinet, especially when they are unable to roll over yet. The best way for a baby to sleep is as follows:

  • On top of a bare and flat surface that is approved by the CPSC
  • On a firm, tight-fitting mattress
  • No bedding (blankets, comforters, etc.) or stuffed animals
  • The baby placed on their back
  • Dressed in footed pajamas to keep the baby warm

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that babies sleep using the “bare is best” method, which will not make a lot of money for the baby sleep aid industry.

SUID and SIDS are serious concerns of parents

The sudden and unexpected death of an infant under the age of one is known as sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). The cause of death is not usually known until an investigation is conducted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these deaths often occur when the baby is sleeping or when the baby is in their sleep area. The other concern with babies is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The CDC reports that an estimated 3,600 infants die each year in the United States because of SUID and SIDS. The numbers have declined dramatically since the 1990s, but are still too high. The CDC and the CPSC work to reduce these numbers with warnings, education, and recall notices.

Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play recall rocked the baby sleep aid industry

Fisher-Price hit it big with the creation of the Rock n’ Play in 2009. The device was praised by thousands of parents for helping their children sleep through the night. However, pediatricians made many complaints to the company because it permitted infants to sleep in an inclined position.


Despite the complaints from pediatricians, the company did not issue a recall until it was discovered that more than 30 infants died from suffocation using the Rock ‘n Play. The recall from Fisher-Price led to other companies issuing recalls on their versions of the inclined sleeper. Despite the recalls and reports of multiple deaths, some parents still refused to stop using the device.

The number of suspected infant deaths has risen to more than 90, according to testimony given by representatives of Fisher-Price at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in June 2021.

Keeping your baby safe when sleeping

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following when a baby under the age of one is put to bed at night or for a nap:

  • Until the age of one, a baby should sleep on its back at all times (side and stomach sleeping should never occur)
  • Always use a firm, flat sleep surface
  • A baby should only be brought into the parent’s bed for comfort or for feeding
  • The baby’s sleep area should be in the same room as the parents for at least the first six months of their life, and ideally for the first year
  • All objects and soft items should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area
  • A baby should not be permitted to fall asleep on a nursing pillow or other soft item
  • A baby should never be allowed to sleep on a pillow, couch, or chair
  • To soothe the baby to sleep, try to give them a pacifier
  • Swaddling the baby to sleep is permitted

The AAP does not recommend bed-sharing for babies of any age. Other circumstances that should be avoided when it comes to bed-sharing include if:

  • The baby is younger than four months old
  • You consumed alcohol
  • You are not the parent of the baby
  • The baby was born premature or has a low body weight
  • You have consumed medication that makes it difficult to wake up
  • The baby’s mother smoked while pregnant
  • The bed has soft bedding, blankets, or pillows
  • The area is soft, like a sofa or armchair, or is a waterbed

Parents should thoroughly research all sleep aid products before buying them and consider not using them if they warn of SIDS or SUID. Parents should never rely on home breathing or heart monitors to prevent SIDS or SUID. The AAP also notes that there is not enough research available yet on in-bed or bedside sleeping products.

CPSC to require all sleep aids to meet existing standards beginning in 2022

The CPSC voted in June 2021 to require all baby sleep aids to meet existing safety standards beginning in 2022. The vote, three to one, bans all sleep aids that do not meet current standards. If companies wish to continue to sell these sleep aids they must meet the safety standards already in place for cribs, bassinets, play yards, and bedside sleepers.

Was your baby injured by a defective or dangerous sleep aid? The experienced Huntsville product liability attorneys at Martin & Helms can investigate the product and determine if your claim can lead to compensation. Call us at 256-539-1990, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today. We have offices in Huntsville and Decatur and serve clients in Madison, Athens, and throughout the Tennessee Valley.