Franklin Countys First News

Safe sleep and the recent sleep device recall

Ryan Whitt, MD

In case you haven’t heard, there has been a recent recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play baby sleeper. Earlier this month, Fisher-Price issued an immediate recall of all models of the Rock ‘n Play baby sleeper according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This recall was made due to more than 30 deaths since 2009, all related to infants sleeping in the product. If you are in possession of a Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play you can visit the following site to potentially get a refund or voucher:

As a Pediatrician and parent, safe sleep for infants is an extremely important safety topic. More than 3,500 infants die yearly in the United States due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or identifiable accidental sleep deaths, including suffocation or strangulation. The first few months of an infant’s life are an incredibly difficult time for parents — a peaceful home full of sleeping children often seems unobtainable. For this reason, many parents employ devices such as the Rock ‘n Play, strollers, and car seats to help their infants fall asleep, but frankly, these are all very dangerous, especially if the infant is not being directly monitored. A better approach is to develop safe sleep practices for your infant and then being disciplined in your persistence. Look — as a parent, I know this is easier said than done. However, it could save your child’s life!

There are several principals to abide by in the first year of your infant’s life to help keep them safe while sleeping. First and foremost, always ensure your infant has their own sleep environment, meaning their own crib or bassinette. Unfortunately, every year many SIDS cases involve sleep accidents that occur while co-sleeping. There are situations that can make co-sleeping even more dangerous, especially in the first four months of life. It is recommended to share a room during this time so you are still able to easily feed your infant and respond quickly to any needs they might have during the nighttime. Co-sleeping, in addition to being a hazard, can often lead to difficulties when weaning older toddlers and young children into their room and bed — a frustrating habit for parents to break. We all need our own space for proper sleep, and providing that space for your infant is important for both physical safety and overall emotional well-being for parents and children alike.

Secondly, infants should be placed on their backs for sleep. Until infants are able to move and roll, which typically does not occur until approximately 4-6 months, if they are placed on their stomach they are more likely to suffocate. Once infants can roll, it is still recommended to place them on their backs during sleep. If they roll to their stomachs or sides you do not need to reposition them.

It is also important that infants sleep on flat, firm surfaces. This is where items such as the Rock ‘n Play come into question. There are a great deal of infant swings, beds, rockers, hammocks — you name it — marketed to parents promising to help their children sleep. The bottom line is that these devices can be very dangerous. Generally, an acceptable safe practice while using these devices would be monitoring your infant in a shared room. However, once you yourself fall asleep and that constant monitoring is no longer occurring, sleep accidents can happen. Along with a firm, flat surface to sleep on, there should be no pillows, toys, or large blankets in the crib. Using a light blanket to swaddle or some of the easy-to-use wearable sleep blankets are great solutions to keep your infant warm during Maine’s cold winters while keeping them safe!

In addition to devices being marketed to parents, there are countless of items marketed to parents offering to keep infants safe. For example, crib bumpers are a hot item. These have not been proven to prevent injuries (think about it —can an infant generate enough force to cause an injury?). Meanwhile, they have been proven to be a suffocation risk. My advice would be to ditch the bumpers if you have them. They are unsafe, a waste of money, and frankly useless. Also, there is an increasing number of wearable infant monitors that look at heartrate, breathing patterns, and oxygen levels. While this may seem ideal on the surface, they can lead to many additional problems. They often erroneously alarm, leading to unnecessary Emergency Department visits, and testing. Sometimes, they can bring about hospital admissions for observation for healthy infants, all due to the device simply displaying inaccurate results. Like any other device, they too can fail when you expect them to work. They have not been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS, they are expensive, and should not replace good safe sleep practices.

There are many other things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS and to keep your children safe. I encourage you to read solid, evidence- based advice from a trusted website such as Sleep is difficult as a new parent or repeat parent. And restful sleep is something we all strive to achieve. The good news is that, generally speaking, at some point all children sleep through night. As parents and Pediatricians, our number one goal is to make sure they are safe enough to make it to that point!

Please talk to your primary care provider and check out to learn more about keeping our children safe.

Ryan J. Whitt, MD
Franklin Health Pediatrics

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1 Responses »

  1. Parents with very little rest can also lead to problems. Make sure you take care of yourself while also seeing that your child receives the care they need. Parenting is the hardest job on earth, but also very rewarding!!