The recent recall of Fisher-Price’s inclined sleepers and the passage of the Safe Sleep for Babies Act (2021) which was signed this Summer has put a spotlight on baby product safety. As a parent, I have been aware of warnings but was really taken aback when a product that has sold more than 5 million units and brought in over $200 million to Mattel (parent company) could be considered unsafe.
Why did the regulators and experts let an unsafe product be on the market for so long?
Here at Motherhoodhq.com, our focus has always been to promote safety for kids in their nurseries and generally at home – indoors and outdoors from hazards such as fire, and more. This article is part of our guides to help you find safe gear for your baby by giving you expert tips on ways to spot unsafe products. The goal again is to always get you the most ideal and SAFE baby product from hundreds of available brands.
When it comes to baby products, we want to believe that manufacturers have our little ones’ best interests at heart. We trust that the car seat we’re strapping our infant into has been put through rigorous safety testing and that the crib we’re spending so much money on is free of toxins and won’t collapse. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Erin Ritcher who lost her 2-week-old daughter to Fisher-Price’s Rock N’ Play sleeper quoted by CBS News said that “unsuspecting consumers believe that there’s oversight, not realizing that our own government has to ask permission from companies like Fisher-Price before doing their job and informing the public when a product is killing people”. She went further to say that this “is not just a problem, that’s a tragedy that’s costing people their lives.”
To ensure we give the maximum attention to baby safety topics and specific hazards, you may see a yellow or red-colored box with hazard warnings similar to the one below;
In the next section, I discuss in detail dangerous baby products that you need to avoid at all costs:
#1. Inclined Sleepers:
Inclined sleepers are devices that are meant to prop up a baby at an angle, usually at 30 to 45 degrees. They are often used for infants who suffer from reflux or other digestive issues. However, in recent years there have been many reports of babies dying in these sleepers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued multiple warnings against the use of inclined sleepers. In 2010, they released a statement saying that “there is no evidence that these devices improve infant health outcomes, and there is compelling evidence that they place infants at increased risk for suffocation.”
In 2019, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report detailing the deaths of 32 infants in inclined sleepers. They found that “babies can roll from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained, and become trapped and suffocate.”
As a result of these findings, the CPSC issued a recall of all inclined sleepers in April 2019. This recall included all brands of inclined sleepers, including those made by Fisher-Price, Kids II, Graco, and Summer Infant.
What’s the risk with inclined sleepers?
The main risk with inclined sleepers is that babies can roll over into a position where they can’t breathe. This can happen even if the baby is properly restrained in the sleeper.In addition, the CPSC found that “babies can become trapped and suffocate against the side of the sleeper or in the space between the mattress and the sleeper’s wall.”
If you have an inclined sleeper, the CPSC recommends that you stop using it immediately and contact the manufacturer for a refund or voucher.
#2. Crib Bumpers:
Crib bumpers are padded, quilted, or fabric-covered mats that are placed around the inside of a crib. They are often used to make a crib look more attractive, or to provide extra warmth and comfort for a baby.
However, crib bumpers can pose a serious risk of suffocation for infants. In 2017, the AAP released a policy statement warning against the use of crib bumpers. They stated that “there is no evidence that crib bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential for suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment.”
Around the same time, AAP made the report, CPSC also released a statement identifying the key risks with crib bumpers, dangers, and advising against their use.
The report identified the following as key problems brought about by crib bumpers;
- They limit space on the mattress.
- They cover key failure points on the crib.
- They are difficult to install.
- They are used with children older than the recommended age.
- They are used outside cribs.
- Their use sends mixed messages about padded objects in a crib.
Crib bumpers can cause Suffocation:
Crib bumpers can cause suffocation if a baby’s head gets wedged between the bumper and the side of the crib. They can also cause strangulation if a baby’s neck gets caught between the bumper and the crib slats.
In addition, crib bumpers can pose a risk of entrapment if a baby’s limbs get caught between the bumper and the crib slats.
Because of these risks, the CPSC recommends that parents do not use crib bumpers. If you have a bumper, the CPSC advises that you remove it from your crib and throw it away.
Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the Academy’s safe sleep policy statement said that “Given the fact that bumpers do very little to promote safety for our youngest infants, who are at highest risk for injury and death associated with bumpers, and because bumpers increase the risk for accidental suffocation and entrapment, bumpers should not be in the crib.”
#3. Drop-side cribs:
Drop-side cribs are a type of crib that has one or more sides that can be lowered to make it easier to lift a baby in and out. However, drop-side cribs have been linked to a number of infant deaths and injuries.
In 2010, the CPSC released a report detailing the deaths of 32 infants who were suffocated in drop-side cribs. The report found that the “cribs can malfunction, causing part of the side to detach from the crib. When this happens, an infant or toddler can become wedged between the mattress and the detached side, which can lead to strangulation or suffocation.”
As a result of these dangers, the CPSC issued a warning against the use of drop-side cribs in 2010. They advised parents to stop using them immediately and to contact the manufacturer for a refund or voucher.
In 2014, the CPSC issued a ban on the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs. This means that it is now illegal to sell or manufacture drop-side cribs in the United States.
#4. Blankets and Pillows:
AAP recommends that a safe sleep environment should also be having no bedding or blankets:
While blankets can be used safely in a crib, there is a risk of suffocation if they are not used properly.
What’s the risk?
Loose blankets can become wrapped around a baby’s head and neck, leading to suffocation. Pillows can also pose a suffocation risk if they are placed in a crib.
The AAP recommends that parents use lightweight blankets that are no bigger than the baby’s chest. They also recommend that parents place the blanket under the baby’s feet, rather than tucking it, blankets should never be placed over the baby’s head or face, as this can cause suffocation.
To be safe go for organic crib bedding made of breathable materials.
There is a new generation of “breathable” crib mattresses that have been designed to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). These mattresses are made with materials that allow air to flow freely through them, which reduces the risk of suffocation.
Some of the materials that are used in these mattresses include:
• Memory foam
• GEL foam
While these materials are effective at reducing the risk of SIDS, they can also be a source of toxic chemicals. Some of the chemicals that are used in these materials include:
These chemicals have been linked to a number of health problems, including:
• Respiratory problems
• immune system dysfunction
• Neurodevelopmental disorders
For this reason, it is important to choose an organic crib sheet beddings and mattress for your baby’s crib.
#5. Sleep positioner:
Sleep positioners are devices that are designed to keep a baby in a certain position while sleeping. However, sleep positioners have been linked to a number of infant deaths.
In 2010, the CPSC released a report detailing the deaths of 12 infants who were suffocated in sleep positioners. The report found that “the infant can roll from their back to their stomach or side while using the sleep positioner, and become trapped and suffocate.”
#6. Soft bedding:
Soft bedding, such as quilts, comforters, and pillows, can pose a suffocation risk if they are placed in a crib.
What’s the risk?
Loose bedding can become wrapped around a baby’s head and neck, leading to suffocation. Pillows can also pose a suffocation risk if they are placed in a crib.
The AAP recommends that parents avoid using soft bedding in a crib. This includes quilts, comforters, and pillows. If you do use bedding, make sure that it is lightweight and no bigger than the baby’s chest.
#7. Inflatable Water Rings:
Inflatable water rings, such as kiddie pools and water slides, can pose a serious drowning risk for young children.
What’s the risk?
Inflatable water rings can deflate suddenly, leaving a child submerged in water. If a child is not supervised carefully, they can drown in just a few inches of water.
The CPSC recommends that parents never leave a child unattended in an inflatable water ring. They also recommend that parents deflate the water ring when it is not in use.
#8. Water Wings:
Water wings are inflatable devices that are worn on the arms to provide buoyancy in the water. However, water wings can give a false sense of security and are not a substitute for supervision.
What’s the risk?
Water wings can deflate suddenly, leaving a child without floatation devices. If a child is not supervised carefully, they can drown in just a few inches of water.
The CPSC recommends that parents never leave a child unattended in a pool or other body of water. They also recommend that parents use life jackets instead of water wings.
#9. Toys with small parts:
Toys with small parts can pose a choking hazard for young children.
On Jan 13, last year (2021), CPSC announced a recall of Janod Toy Confetti Trumpets which have small plastic pieces inside the toy trumpets. These pieces can come loose and can be ingested by children, posing a choking hazard.
What’s the risk?
Young children can choke on small toys if they put them in their mouths. Toys with small parts can also pose a choking hazard if they break into smaller pieces.
The CPSC recommends that parents avoid giving young children toys with small parts. If you do give a child a toy with small parts, make sure that the toy is age-appropriate and that the child is supervised closely.
Magnets are small, powerful devices that can pose a serious health risk if swallowed.
If a child ingests more than one magnet, the magnets can attract to each other within the body and compress digestion tissue between them. This rusts off blood supply from surrounding organs. These injuries could be fatal.
The CPSC recommends that parents avoid giving young children toys with magnets. If you do give a child a toy with magnets, make sure that the child is supervised closely. The AAP agrees on its site that high-powered magnets sold as sets of 100 or more small magnetic balls or cubes have been the most dangerous product to children. These can be arranged into different shapes. The sets were marketed as children’s toys or as novelty adult desk toys intended for entertainment, mental stimulation, and stress relief.
A new safety standard for high-powered magnets took effect in October 2022. It applies to products with multiple loose magnets or magnets that can be separated. The new regulation state that the settled toys embedded with such type of magnets must either be too large for children to swallow or have weaker magnetic fields so as not to cause severe internal injuries when ingested.
The CPSC reports that an estimated 2,500 people had to go to the emergency room after swallowing magnets in 2021. These incidents were caused by products that are now included in the new safety standard.
#11. Button batteries:
In August Washington Post ran a report stating that more and more babies are swallowing button batteries;
Button batteries are small, round batteries that are used in a variety of devices. If swallowed, button batteries can cause serious internal injuries.
We use button batteries to power many of our devices, such as remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards, kitchen scales, tea light candles, watches and toys. However, these same batteries pose a threat to children when accidentally swallowed. Button battery ingestion can lead to serious injury or death in some cases.
A recent study by Pediatrics found that, alarmingly, emergency department visits for children who had swallowed a battery between 2010 and 2019 were more than double the number of those between 1990 and 2009. What’s even scarier is that button batteries (small disc-shaped cells, also known as coin batteries) were involved in 85 percent of cases where the type of battery was described.
What’s the risk?
If a child swallows a button battery, it can become lodged in their throat and start to burn through the tissue. This can lead to serious internal injuries, including death.
The CPSC recommends that parents avoid giving young children toys with button batteries. If you do give a child a toy with button batteries, make sure that the child is supervised closely.
12. Baby Walkers:
A baby walker is a device that helps a young child who is learning to walk to move around without falling over. Baby walkers can be dangerous because they:
• Make it easy for a baby to get to places where they could be injured, such as stairs
• Give the baby access to things that they could hurt themselves with, such as knives or hot stoves
• The baby can fall down the stairs in a baby walker
Walkers can also tip over easily, and a baby in a walker can fall out of the walker and be seriously injured.
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Sandra W. Bullock is a grand-mom to two boys and is part of the review board here at Motherhoodhq.com. She is responsible for the quality control of content and is among our most experienced moms. She has over 20 years of writing parenting content online focussing on baby safety indoors and outdoors. She has written widely on babyproofing nurseries and homes for infants and toddlers and published work on privacy and the safety of baby monitors. She is a renowned advocate for non-wifi baby monitors that cannot be hacked and spends a lot of time educating parents on how to secure their homes – including ways to secure the baby from harm in and around homes. Sandra is a native of Atlanta where she also works. She can be reached using her email, Sandra.w(at)motherhoodhq.com