Following dozens of infant deaths reported in recent years, federal safety officials are warning parents and guardians to never allow infants to sleep on nursing pillows or other lounging pad products, due to the risk they may become entrapped and suffocate.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a warning about the nursing pill infant deaths on October 7, announcing the entire class of pillow-like infant products are being investigated to determine whether they are safe for infant use.
The warning involves all brands and models of infant nursing pillows, loungers, swaddles and similar pillow-like products that are designed to provide a stable and comfortable position for a newborn or infant while awake and supervised.
Officials released the warning after several fatalities highlighted in the agency’s initial assessment determined children may be prone to rolling off of the pillows or on to their belly, leaving their face trapped against the fabric. The agency indicated infants who have not developed the neck or body strength to roll back over, or away from the pillow-like products, may become trapped and suffocate.
According to the SaferProducts.gov public database of incidents, the CPSC has become aware of at least 28 infant deaths caused by nursing pillows and baby loungers.
The warning details how the pillows and lounging products increase the risk of positional asphyxia, which occurs when the child’s position blocks their airway, preventing them from breathing adequately.
One of the infant fatalities recorded by the agency, which listed positional asphyxia as the cause of death, involved a 3-month-old boy from Florida who had been placed on top of one of the nursing pillows and left unattended. The CPSC report indicates the boy’s mother returned 15 minutes later and discovered the infant had turned face down into the pillow and suffocated.
Parents and guardians are being instructed to never allow babies and infants to sleep on nursing pillows or other pillow-like products, and to never leave an infant that is awake unattended on the products.
As the investigation is still ongoing, officials reiterated the “Bare is Best” guidelines which encourages infants to be placed on their backs on a firm and flat surface, and to remove blankets, pillows, padded bumpers, or toys from their crib. The recommendations further instructs parents to never use infant sleep products with inclined seat backs of more than 10 degrees, as this could pose an entrapment and suffocation hazard.
CPSC officials have been reevaluating standards for infant sleep products over recent years, as data indicates more than 1,000 infants suffocate in their sleep each year, with many being attributed to padded crib bumpers and inclined sleepers.
Last year, the CPSC proposed a rule that would ban all infant inclined sleepers and enforce manufacturers creating infant sleep-related products to conform to mandatory standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
The proposal was announced following a series of inclined sleeper recalls that impacted millions of products across the U.S.
In April 2019, the CPSC announced a recall of nearly 5 million Fisher-Price Rock’n Play Sleepers due to design problems that resulted in at least 32 infants becoming trapped against the fabric and suffocating to death. Since the warning was issued, several manufacturers have also issued recalls of inclined sleeper products including a recall of 694,000 Kids II inclined rocking sleepers. Fischer-Price subsequently released an additional inclined sleeper recall in June, impacting 71,000 inclined sleeping accessories sold with their Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yards.
Fischer-Price currently faces several inclined sleeper individual wrongful death lawsuits as well as a class action lawsuit alleging the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risk of problems, yet delayed announcing a recall or warning, and knowingly allowed parents to continue purchasing life threatening sleeper devices.