“Bare is best” when it comes to preparing a crib, bassinet or playpen for a newborn baby to sleep in, consumer product safety advocates advised parents Thursday. That means a firm, flat surface with no blankets, pillows, toys, stuffed animals or any other items apart from a fitted sheet.  

Extra bedding and other clutter have been linked to an average of 100 infant deaths per year between 2018 and 2020, according to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Risks associated with nursery products are even higher, with more than 160 nursery product-related deaths annually.

Nearly 60,000 children under age 5 were taken to an emergency room in 2022 because of injuries associated with nursery products, the report found. About 15 young children died every year during that same time period because caretakers placed them in an inclined carrier not intended for sleep, the commission said. 

“It is important for families to remember that the ways many adults sleep are not safe for young children,” CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. “If your baby falls asleep in an inclined product, move them to their crib, bassinet or play yard.”


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Despite their visual appeal, even soft bedding and plush toys can lead to suffocation or strangulation, Samantha St. John, program coordinator for Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, told CBS News earlier this month. St. John also emphasized that babies should sleep in cribs or bassinets, not on beds with siblings or in parents’ arms. 

Hundreds of infant deaths, and the ongoing risk of suffocation, has spurred new regulations for infant sleepers and the recall of rockers and many other products. The Food and Drug Administration last year warned parents not to use head-shaping pillows on their infants because the devices “may contribute to the risk of suffocation and death.” 

The CPSC didn’t share specific brands or products to avoid in its report, but it keeps a searchable database of recalled baby products on its website. In a recent example, a popular baby pillow recalled in 2021— Boppy’s Newborn Lounger —  is now linked to at least 10 infant deaths, the CPSC said in June. 

Here’s a list of do’s and dont’s for parents and anyone caring for babies to remember, according to the CPSC:

Do

  • Use products intended for sleep including cribs, bassinets, play yards and bedside sleepers that meet federal requirements
  • Remember that “bare is best.” Nothing but a fitted sheet should be placed in a crib, bassinet or play yard
  • Always place babies on their backs
  • Move your baby to their crib, bassinet or play yard if they fall asleep elsewhere
  • Check the CPSC website for product recalls. 

Don’t

  • Don’t add pillows or blankets to your baby’s sleep space
  • Don’t allow your baby to sleep in an inclined product with an angle greater than 10° such as a rocker, bouncer, swing or glider.

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