FDA Warns Against Sleep Positioners…Now What?

Posted on Oct 12, 2017 |

The FDA recently issued a warning reminding parents of the potential dangers of sleep positioners. Sleep positioners, says the FDA, can cause suffocation that can lead to infant death.

The initial alert to parents came in 2010 when the FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a joint warning after reviewing reports of 12 infant deaths associated with sleep positioners over the preceding 13 years.

So why, amidst these dire warnings, does it appear that demand for positioners is growing?

FOX News recently reported, “Hundreds of different sleep positioners are sold in stores and online, including Amazon. One product was advertised as ‘100 percent premium quality cotton covered memory foam’ that gives babies a comfortable sleeping position and to help them ‘breathe freely.’ Several companies also claim the pillows can help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, deformation, and gastroesophageal reflux.”

I’m certain that most parents have every intention of heeding warnings like this one. But if safety is a priority for well-meaning parents – which I know it is – then what do you do at 3 am when your baby has awakened every hour on the hour and won’t go back to sleep?

The list of ‘don’ts’ is long. Don’t turn on the lights. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t rock, hold or feed your little one to sleep. Don’t put your baby in a swing. Don’t let your I’m-so-tired-I-might-as-well-be-drunk partner drive your baby around the neighborhood. Don’t bring a baby into your bed with you to sleep. Don’t cram yourself into your baby’s crib to sleep. Don’t stress, this will all be over soon. But will it??

There comes a point when we get so desperate with our situation that something’s gotta give. We’re all going to break the parenting “rules” at some point. Bribing my kids with candy? Guilty. Driving my child’s forgotten homework to school? Guilty. Arriving at my destination only to realize I forgot to buckle my kid in their car seat. Ugh. Guilty. No one has this freakishly fantastic journey down to a science. Or at least that’s what I tell myself!

When it comes to making tough choices on behalf of your child though, consider reaching out to a well-referred expert who can help you weigh your options. Maybe that’s your child’s pediatrician. Maybe that’s a doula. Maybe that is an experienced sleep trainer.

The point is that you and your family are unique. You have your own story, your own parenting philosophies, and your own convictions. Share those. I’m not saying sleep training is the right answer for you – it very well may not be. But speaking to an expert may help you better understand your options and avoid making a potentially unsafe choice on behalf of your little one.

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