700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Safe Sleep and Your New Baby

May 04, 2015

With all of the “mommy” blogs, baby super-store registries and well intending friends, new moms are often overwhelmed with the amount of information and opinions on baby gear. Isn’t it amazing how such little people have so much stuff?

An article came out last week about babies sleeping in swings, slings, bouncers and infant carriers. The research included information that I think is really important for new parents to hear.

The authors reviewed deaths reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in children 2 years and younger involving a sitting or carrying device (car seat, swing, bouncer, stroller, slings and more). Forty-seven deaths were identified between 2004-2008, and all but one of the deaths was caused by asphyxiation (accidental suffocation or strangling).

Two-thirds of the deaths were in car seats — babies strangling or suffocating due to unfastened or improperly fastened straps. All of the deaths associated with slings, bouncers and strollers were due to babies suffocating due to the way they were positioned in the seats. Many of the babies were placed in the sitting devices to help them fall asleep.

Appropriate Use of Infant Seats and Carriers

Let’s talk a little more about car seats, because I certainly don’t want you walking away from this article thinking that your child is going to suffocate while riding in the car.

Nearly nine in every 10 of the car-seat deaths reviewed in this study occurred outside of the car.

A baby properly fastened in an appropriately installed car seat is at very low risk of strangulation or asphyxiation. The problem occurs when the straps are not properly fastened and the baby moves out of position or gets strangled on the straps, or the infant carrier is taken out of the car and placed on a soft surface and the carrier tips over, resulting in suffocation.

So, what about wraps, slings and soft carriers?

To be honest, these were the secret to my survival once I had more than one kid. But like anything, you need to use these as instructed and be aware of the dangers.

Twenty-nine soft infant and toddler carrier-related nonfatal incidents were reported to the CPSC from September 11, 2012 to July 15, 2013. The 5 babies who died in slings either suffocated because they were curled up with their chins against their chests, obstructing the airway, or because their airways were against the sling material or the body of the person wearing the carrier.

Tips for Safely Using Infant Seats and Carriers

Slings, swings, bouncers, infant carriers and strollers are all very helpful to parents. By remembering a few key points, they can be used safely.

  • Always use the product as directed.
  • Use them only under close supervision (the baby should not be covered up or left alone in any of these carriers).
  • If you are using an item from a previous child or passed on from a friend, check the CPSC recall list to make sure that product hasn’t been recalled.
  • Follow the directions every time the soft carrier, sling, wrap, car seat or other item is in use.
  • Make sure the baby’s face is up and visible, with the nose and mouth free.
  • Never lay the baby in the bed while still in a carrier. The baby should be removed from the carrier and placed on his or her back in the crib.
  • If you are using a sling, the baby should be “visible and kissable” at all times to prevent suffocation.

The most important way to keep your baby safe is remember that when it is time for sleep, they should be in their beds — not in any type of carrier. Caregivers should always remember the ABC’s of safe sleep: Alone, on his or her Back in an empty Crib.

By following these tips and being vigilant, you can ensure a safe transport and sleeping experience for your child. Learn more about Safe Sleep by visiting our website.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Sarah A. Denny, MD
Emergency Medicine

Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, works as an attending physician in the Section of Emergency Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.