Do Infant Positioners & Baby Monitors Prevent SIDS?

Beware of products which claim to prevent SIDS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns. Read on to see what these questionable products are and what you can actually do to prevent SIDS.

Baby products don’t prevent SIDS, FDA warns
by Heath Caruzo

A new baby is always a reason to rejoice, and new parents are especially tempted to go overboard with the baby products. Visions of a crib filled with plush toys and soft bedding appeal to them and sadly, many ruthless manufacturers have exploited this nurturing instinct of parents.

This is why the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) has warned recently against over-the-counter baby products that are marketed with claims of being able to prevent or reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or the unexplained death of a baby younger than age 1.

Some common baby products with unproven claims to prevent or reduce the risk of SIDS include:

  • baby monitors,
  • mattresses,
  • crib tents,
  • pillows,
  • crib bedding, including bumpers and blankets, and
  • infant positioners

The FDA warned that it has never approved any of product to prevent SIDS, and is asking manufacturers to stop marketing products with such claims until they receive FDA clearance. Makers should also remove all SIDS prevention claims from product labels.

“These products are absolutely not necessary and they can be very dangerous,” says Susan Cummins, M.D., M.P.H., chief pediatric medical officer in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Infant deaths, in fact, have been associated with many baby products. Sleep positioners, products used to keep a baby in a desired position, have been identified as the cause of some infant deaths in the past. Babies have also been found in hazardous positions after being placed in such positioners, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported. Babies can slide down and be trapped by wedges designed to keep them on their back. Blankets, quilts, soft toys and pillow-like crib bedding can also smother infants.

The FDA also warned that is not aware of any scientific studies showing a medical device able to prevent or reduces the risk of SIDS.

And what does the FDA recommend to parents who want to lower the chance of SIDS?

If you want to reduce your baby’s risk for SIDS, the best way is to create an ideal, safe sleep environment for your infant, said FDA’s Dr. Cummins. This is simply one that is free of anything that could block your baby’s movement or breathing.
Cummins also proposes the “A-B-C” safe sleep environment for your baby:

A. Alone in his or her own bed. Don’t keep your baby in your bed next to you. If you roll over, you may accidentally suffocate it.

B. Back to sleep. The safest way to put your baby to sleep is on his or her back every time. Do not put the baby on his side or on his stomach. Since the national Back to Sleep campaign in 1994 urged parents to place babies on their backs, there has been a 60 percent reduction in SIDS.

C. Crib. The baby should always be placed in a crib or bassinet to sleep, with nothing else but a firm crib mattress and a tight-fitting sheet.

“Your baby will develop faster in that first year than in any time after. Newborns can’t even hold up their head, yet by their first birthday they are walking or nearly so,” Cummins said. “In between, your baby will learn to roll, sit, turn, crawl and even may start to climb!”

“So in that first year, your baby constantly and rapidly develops new skills, even in the crib during sleep time,” she said. “Make your baby’s crib a safe place to sleep and move, with nothing to get in the way.”