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Is it safe to use a baby sleep positioner?

The BabyCenter Editorial Team

No. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning to parents to stop using sleep positioners. They cited reports of 12 babies who died when they suffocated in a sleep positioner or between a sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet.

There were also dozens of reports of babies who were placed on their back or side in a sleep positioner but found later in a potentially hazardous position in or next to the positioner. The incidents took place over 13 years and involved two types of positioners: flat mats with side bolsters and inclined (wedge) mats with side bolsters. Unfortunately, those positioners and many other types are still sold.

None of these positioners is considered safe. For example, sleep positioners that are supposed to keep babies on their back might seem like an effective way to help prevent SIDS or suffocation, but instead they themselves create a hazard.

The safest sleep environment for a baby, experts say, is a firm, flat mattress with nothing but a fitted sheet on it. Nothing else should be in the bed: no stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, bumpers, or positioners of any kind.

The only positioning product that is considered safe is the crib wedge. The crib wedge doesn't touch your baby. It goes under one end of the crib mattress, raising the baby's head and torso a bit to ease reflux symptoms or a stuffy nose.

A baby sleeping on a mattress raised by a crib wedge might roll down the incline and end up at the bottom of the crib. That's not a safety concern, though, unless there are suffocation hazards in the crib.

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