Keep her on the back WITHOUT a baby sleep positioner
Latest fact check: September 12, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
A baby sleep positioner or baby wedge forms a potentially fatal risk
so do not use any, ever. The CPSC and FDA warn
that babies have died after getting stuck between the wedges and the
Let's find out why that is + learn how to keep baby on her back without
dangerous holder in the crib.
Along with all other crib
safety and SIDS guidelines, we should always put baby on her back
to sleep: it's the single safe baby
sleeping position. Since parents have been advised to keep baby on
the back at the end of
the 1980's, SIDS rates have decreased a lot (!). And it still the
standard recommended way to sleep.
But, it's never a good
idea to try and keep your baby on the back with a sleep positioner.
You probably have seen these rolls
or baby wedges in different shapes and sizes.
Our mothers and grandmothers used them (or a rolled-up towel) to keep
us sleeping on
the side (which was sometimes still recommended in those days). You can
still buy them or even find them included with a so-called in-bed
mini cosleeper which I no longer recommend.
The CPSC baby sleep positioner report states that
several babies have suffocated after rolling within
the infant sleep positioner and/or getting stuck
between one of the
wedges and the crib side. A recall is not mentioned but they do
warn to stop using any sleep positioner:
"To date, there is no
scientifically sound evidence
that infant sleep positioners prevent SIDS,” said Dr. Joshua
Sharfstein, FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner and a pediatrician. “
want to make sure parents, health care professionals, and childcare
providers understand the potential risk of suffocation and stop using
infant sleep positioners."
So there is no way we can take this risk. Still you do want to find a
way to keep your baby safely on her back.
What if baby rolls over onto her tummy while asleep?
First of all, when baby is put to sleep on
her back in an empty crib (as recommended) and then rolls over, the
risk of suffocating is lower than with a baby sleep positioner in the
because there is no extra
material to get stuck in.
prevention guidelines advise for you to be near your baby (supervise
closely, ideally sleep in the same room) to monitor carefully. In particular in the first year, with baby in her own crib or
cosleeping safely. This way you're there to monitor your baby and can roll her over when necessary.
So putting down on the back in an empty crib is crucial.
During transition times (when learning to roll over), a well-adapted, right-size, right-temperature (all of these super important for safety!!!) baby
sleeping bag (also called wearable blanket) helps some to keep baby on her back, safely. That is because it makes rolling over just a
little bit more difficult.
Once your baby rolls back and forth easily, you will still want to put her on the back to sleep whenever you place her in the crib. Some parents stay near and resolve to keep turning them around. Most experts agree though that this isn't necessary (see external links below).
But once your baby is
so agile and strong to roll back and forth easily, and you are
confident that she will also be able to do it while asleep, the risk
from being on her tummy decreases, as this comment by Dr Sears and the answer to the rolling over question on Safe to Sleep state.