A federal safety agency is cracking down on infant sleepers that have been tied to infant deaths.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has passed a new rule that any product designed for infant sleep is required to meet a federal safety standard.
"You just assume if it’s sold, that it’s safe. But... unfortunately, that means that people get hurt." —Dr. Ben Hoffman
That means infant gear such as inclined sleepers, portable bassinets and co-sleeping devices will not be allowed on store shelves unless they adhere to federal requirements and pass a third-party safety test. The rule applies to any product referencing “sleep, snooze, dream, or nap" or one that features a sleeping baby on the packaging, according to Consumer Reports.
Unregulated products have beenlinked to the deaths of more than 100 babies, according to Consumer Reports.
A press release on the CPSC website reports that design flaws in inclined sleepers have resulted in “infants rolling over and asphyxiating.” Flat sleep products such as soft-sided travel bassinets have caused death by suffocation.
The new ruling will go into effect in mid-2022. Cribs and bassinets are already regulated.
“What we’ve done today fulfills the most sacred of our obligations as Commissioners — to take steps to protect vulnerable consumers, including babies,” CPSC acting chairman Robert Adler said in a statement on Wednesday. “Today’s vote ensures that when a product is intended or marketed for sleep, it will indeed be safe for an infant to sleep.”
Dr. Ben Hoffman, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention is applauding the ruling, which he believes will save many lives.
“We wouldn’t assume that a manufacturer or retailer is selling us something that’s potentially dangerous. You just assume if it’s sold, that it’s safe. But most of the time, it works exactly the other way around, where the burden of proof is to demonstrate that it’s harmful,” Hoffman told TODAY Parents. “And unfortunately, that means that people get hurt.”
Hoffman noted that the safest way for an infant to sleep is on their back, alone in their own space and on a firm, flat surface with no soft bedding.
“Products that encourage them to sleep in a different way puts them at risk,” Hoffman explained. “Until now, the system favored profits over people.”
Inclined infant sleepers have been linked to ate least 73 fatalities, according to a December 2019 Consumer Reports article. And yet, they’re still a hot commodity.
“Parents are exhausted and they’re looking for anything that will get them through that rough period,” Hoffman said. “Selling hope to families has lead to a lot of bad things happening to a baby.”