Think baby product recalls cover all dangerous items being sold right now? Think again! In fact, Breezy Mama turned to Terri Miller, an injury prevention Program Coordinator for Safe Kids Georgia at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, to get the scoop on baby items and crib safety from when swaddling can become dangerous to baby cribs and baby sleeping products that can result in injury or infant death.
Why aren’t crib bumpers safe?
SIDS/SUIDS prevention and baby safety advocates advise against using crib bumpers because there have been cases of suffocation attributed to the bumpers and bumper ties. Originally, bumpers were used to help keep babies’ arms, legs and heads from slipping through the crib slats and causing entrapment or suffocation. New and improved rules for crib safety are in place to ensure that the slats are close enough together to prevent this from happening, and the bumpers are no longer needed. However, many parents continue to use them because they are sold with the crib sets and many think they look cute. The risk of injury from the crib bumpers far out way any possible benefit from their usage.
Is the reflux wedge parents use okay for babies to sleep on?
In 2010, two federal agencies, the FDA and the CPSC, warned against using sleep positioners, which include reflux wedges, because of concerns of suffocation. The continuing advice is to create a safe environment, for infants to sleep on their backs, that is free of added pillows, toys, comforters and quilts. Follow this link for more information: http://www.survivebabyreflux.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/FDA-Sleep-Positioners-Sept-2010.pdf. Speak to your pediatrician about any specific concerns.
Unless specifically prescribed by a pediatrician, who is aware of the suffocation concerns, sleep positioners should not be used with infants.
What are the concerns with drop down cribs?
Drop-down side cribs were causing death by suffocation and strangulation to children who became entrapped. The CPSC recalled more than 11 million drop-down side cribs in just a 3 year period and finally, voted to ban the cribs in 2010. The ban went into effect June 2011. There are also new rules in place for the distance between the crib slats, slat durability, hardware sturdiness, mattress support and tougher testing requirements. Parents and caregivers can check out the CPSC ‘s website devoted to information on the new crib rules: http://www.cpsc.gov/info/cribs/index.html
Should parents throw out a drop down side crib or can they just adjust the crib so the side doesn’t drop down?
Parents should first check to see that the crib has not been recalled ,and they should not use cribs that are older than 10 years or cribs that have been modified with items not provided by the manufacturer.
Some companies have provided immobilizers for the drop-down side cribs sold in the U.S. prior to the new law. The immobilizers on the following link have been tested and approved by the CPSC and can be used to modify a drop-down side crib, less than 10 years old, to make it a fixed-side crib.
1. Regardless of the type of crib, check to make sure that it has not been recalled.
2. If your crib is older than 10 years, it should be replaced. There have been many improvements to the design and safety of cribs during this time.
3. If you have a drop-side crib, do not modify it with anything other than the approved and tested modifiers provided by the manufacturer.
4. Be sure to always follow the safety guidelines for your baby’s sleep environment.
What about hand me down cribs – is it okay to accept them?
Any crib that is intended to be used with an infant should meet the safety requirements previously outlined. If accepting a crib from someone else, parents and caregivers need to take extra steps to ensure that the sleeping environment is safe. Check for recalls and check to ensure it is not older than 10 years. Also, parents and caregivers need to ensure that the crib was put together correctly. There have been issues with caregivers assembling and reassembling a crib incorrectly so it appears to be put together correctly and therefore safe; however, because it was assembled incorrectly, it might not be so. If unable to afford a full size crib, caregivers can explore other options that can still provide a safe sleep environment for their child.
Are pacifiers safe to sleep with?
Pacifiers are a personal decision to be made by the parent or caregiver because there are pros as well as cons with pacifier usage. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics finds that using pacifiers during the first 6-12 months has been linked to a reduced numbers of SIDS/SUIDS related deaths and it does not contribute to any of the longer term concerns with pacifier usage, such as dental issues.
Other AAP recommendations include not coating the pacifiers in any sweet solutions, cleaning the pacifier often, and for breastfed infants, do not start using the pacifier until 1 month of age to ensure that breastfeeding is firmly established.
What are your thoughts regarding safety and humidifiers for babies?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not found any adverse health effects related to humidifier use. However, recent studies have shown the need for more research into whether or not babies can be harmed by bacteria, mold, and mineral dust potentially dispersed from humidifiers. If a parent or caregiver decides to use a humidifier, they should be especially diligent in following the manufacturer’s instruction on usage as well as cleaning.
For swaddling, I have walked in and my infant has unswaddled and the blanket is in their face. How can parents prevent that from happening? With swaddle blankets, is the fabric breathable?
This is an extremely dangerous situation. If an infant is mobile enough to unswaddle themselves, a parent should pursue other options for sleep. Having any type of fabric on, or even near, an infant’s face is a major risk factor for suffocation. Infants, especially those under 6 months, need to be protected from the risk of suffocation by keeping items out of their sleep environment, including excess blankets.
Swaddling is very popular, but there are limits. If you decided to swaddle your child, realize that most do not recommend swaddling an infant past 1 – 2 months old. After the first few weeks of life, infants no longer need the extra warmth, and in fact, overheating is a risk factor for SIDS/SUIDS. Studies have also shown that swaddling past this time does not help with reduced crying. Since babies are also beginning to roll over between 2-5 months, we also need to be concerned about the blanket coming lose and posing a suffocation risk.
A safe option is a “sleep sack”. This is a wearable blanket that can help keep your infant cozy without the risk of loose fabric that can potentially cover his or her face. Sleep sacks are endorsed by SIDS/SUIDS prevention advocates as a safe sleep option.
Many parents use crib tents once a child can climb out. Are these tents safe?
There have been issues and deaths associated with children being able to tear the mesh and becoming entrapped at the neck. Currently, the CPSC is investigating at least 10 claims of child death to determine whether or not the mesh from the crib tents was a factor. To date, no known official policy has been written concerning crib tents and their usage however, parents are strongly cautioned about using crib tents, especially if a child is old enough to manipulate the tent or how it is fastened to the crib.
At what age is it safe for babies to have pillows and blankets in their cribs?
Parents and caregivers should wait until at least 2 years of age before introducing a pillow. Additionally, the pillow should be small and flat. Definitely avoid fluffy or feather pillows. Waiting until the toddler transitions from the crib to a toddler bed is a good idea as well.
Parents and caregivers are highly encouraged to provide their infants with their own sleep environment. Having the child in your room is recommended; however, bed sharing with infants can be very dangerous. Children, especially those under 1 year, should always have a firm place to sleep that is free of any additional items including, blankets, pillows, toys and bumpers. Place infants on their backs and avoid overheating them. If traveling or staying in a different location, ensure your child’s sleep environment is free of areas where the child could slip in between something and become entrapped. Remember, infants are unlikely to be able to pull themselves out of a crevice (such as in a couch or between a bed and a wall) and any material that covers their face could potentially cause suffocation.
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About Terri Miller
Terri Miller is an injury prevention Program Coordinator for Safe Kids Georgia at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Her role is to assist the statewide coalitions with developing, implementing, and evaluating programs designed to address accidental injury in children 14 years and younger. She also provides in service education and presentations to parents, educators and service providers.
Terri earned her B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Women Studies at the Ohio State University. She earned her Master of Public Health at Armstrong-Atlantic State University and is also a Certified Health Education Specialist and Certified Passenger Safety Technician Instructor.