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Sleep positioners pulled from shelves due to suffocation risk

Baby sleeping

If your baby is a fussy sleeper, or has reflux, you may well have turned to a baby sleep positioner for a solution. But UK retailers are withdrawing them from sale amid safety concerns – here's what you need to know

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has warned again that baby sleep positioners are not safe, following the deaths of 12 babies (over a period of 13 years) which they believe to have been caused by the devices.

What is a sleep positioner?

Sleep positioners are aimed at babies under six months old who struggle with sleep. Some feature raised supports or pillows that are attached to each side of a mat, also known as a baby “nest” – others have a wedge to support the baby's head. Some parents use these to try and prevent flat head syndrome.

Are they safe?

Manufacturers already warn parents that they should not be used after a baby is old enough to roll over by themselves, due to the risk of suffocation if the baby rolls from their side onto their stomach. But the FDA now advises that parents don't use them at all, even if their baby cannot yet roll.

“In light of the suffocation risk and the lack of evidence of any benefits, we are warning consumers to stop using these products”, they said on 3 October 2017.

Which sleep positioners have been removed?

As a result of the FDA's statement, UK retailers including Tesco, Mothercare, John Lewis and eBay have withdrawn a number of products. The sleep positioners which have been removed include:

  • Cocoonababy sleep positioner
  • Summer Infant Head 'n' Back
  • Snuggle Nest
  • Babymoov Cosydream

Babymoov has since released a statement noting that its Cosydream complies with existing UK regulations and has not been involved in any incident connected with infant fatality.

As a precaution, John Lewis has also withdrawn the Cocoonababy Nest.

The Sleepyhead, a portable pod popular with parents which is not technically classed as a sleep positioner, has not been withdrawn.

How to put your baby to sleep safely

Put most simply: use a firm, flat waterproof mattress with nothing else in the cot. And always put them to sleep on their back.

  • Don't put pillows, blankets or any loose bedding in their cot
  • Don't use bumpers or bolsters
  • Don't let them overheat
  • Never put the baby on their front or side
  • Don't cover their head or face
  • Don't sleep in the same bed as your baby if you're too sleepy or you've been hitting the wine
  • Put the baby's cot in your room until they're six months old
  • No sofa naps together (tempting though it might be)
  • Don't use rolled up blankets to try and keep your baby in one position, unless a healthcare professional has advised you to do so to help with a specific medical condition.

And if you're concerned about flat head syndrome, the NHS recommends:

  • Tummy time during the day while you watch them
  • Switch the baby between different positions during the day, using a sling or bouncer chair
  • If your baby has a mobile, move it around so that they move their head around to watch it
  • Alternate the side you carry or feed your baby on