OnSafety is the Official Blog Site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here you'll find the latest safety information as well as important messages that will keep you and your family safe. We hope you'll visit often!


#SafeBaby Twitter Chat

Do you have a question about the safety of your crib? Do you wonder what more you should know about baby safety? How about what to look for when you buy used baby products or get hand-me-downs?

@BabyCenter is hosting CPSC (@OnSafety) CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and @AmerAcadPeds Pediatrician Dr. Rich Lichenstein (@rlichens1) to answer your questions about baby safety.

We’ll talk cribs, play yards, bedding, baby monitors, buying used and more. Our goal is to give you real-life information to keep your family safe.

Tune in and join the chat this Thursday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. ET. Use the hashtag #SafeBaby

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/09/safebaby-twitter-chat/

Safe Sleep: Bedding, Pillows, Safety and More

Blog en español

Bare is Best! Poster

Post this free poster in your community or on your Facebook and Pinterest pages. Spread the word.

CPSC staff estimates that between 1992 and 2010 there were nearly 700 deaths involving infants 12 months and younger related to pillows and cushions placed in or near a baby’s sleep environment. Nearly half of the infant crib deaths and two-thirds of bassinet deaths reported to CPSC each year are suffocations caused by pillows, thick quilts and/or overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space.

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safe crib. A safe crib is one that meets CPSC’s strong federal safety standards and is clear of clutter. That means no pillows, no heavy quilts, no thick blankets, no pillow-like stuffed toys or other large stuffed toys and no child carrying devices, recliners or sleep positioners.

Many parents are aware of the Back-to-Sleep Campaign to reduce the risk of SIDS. Putting your baby to sleep on his or her back also helps prevent suffocation. Be sure to always place your baby on his/her back on a tight-fitting, firm, flat mattress or any surface that comes with the bassinet and play yard. Crib mattresses need to fit tightly, too.

I use a pillow, why shouldn’t my baby?

Re-creation of baby doll in crib filled with pillows. Baby is between the two pillows.

This medical examiner re-creation shows a hazardous situation. Babies should not be placed to sleep on anything pillow-like or in a crib filled with items. Bare is Best.

Babies and adults are different. A pillow can block a baby’s nose and mouth and can cause a baby to suffocate. On average, there are 32 infant deaths a year on pillows used as mattresses or to prop babies’ heads. The majority of these deaths involve infants in their first three months of life.

Parents can safely start using pillows for children who are 1½ years old, about the same age at which parents can safely move children out of the crib and either into a toddler bed or onto a mattress on the floor.

No thick blankets? My baby will be cold.

If you’re worried about the temperature in your baby’s room, dress your baby in warm clothes. You can also put a thin blanket on your baby. Do not use thick blankets or quilts. Young babies can and do get their faces stuck in thick blankets and suffocate.

Should I use a ‘sleep positioning’ device?

No. CPSC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began warning parents in September 2010 to stop using sleep positioners. There is currently no scientific evidence supporting medical claims that have been made regarding these products. CPSC and FDA are aware of 13 reports of infants between the ages of 1 and 4 months who died when they suffocated in these positioners or when they became trapped between a sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet. CPSC has also received dozens of reports of infants who were placed on their backs or sides in sleep positioners, only to be found later in potentially hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners.

A major concern is the use of these products to keep a baby on its side, which is an unstable position. Infants placed on their sides are more likely to flip onto their stomachs because their backs are pressed against the side of the sleep positioning product. Because these products are designed to keep a baby from changing positions, infants who end up on their stomachs are then unable to free themselves. Young infants can suffocate because they don’t have the neck strength to move their heads.

Is it safe to put a car seat, carrier, infant recliner or other item inside the crib with my infant in it?

No. This is not a safe practice. Many of these items can tip over when placed on top of an uneven surface such as a mattress. Babies have also flipped over the side of these products and become wedged between them and other items in the crib. Since 2003, CPSC is aware of at least 9 deaths of infants in car seats, carriers, infant recliners and bouncy seats that were placed on a soft surface such as a bed, crib, play pen, air mattress or sofa.

Can I put toys in the crib/play yard/bassinet?

An uncluttered sleeping space is the safest sleeping space for a baby. Again, Bare is Best.

Toys attached to the sides of a crib should be securely attached to a single side. Make sure the toy does not contain any cords or straps that could wrap around a child’s neck. Avoid hanging crib toys with protruding parts that a child can use to pull themselves up and out of the crib or from which small parts might detach.

Don’t fill your baby’s crib, play yard or bassinet with large toys or decorative or nursing pillows, thick blankets or comforters. This is particularly important for children who are 4 months and younger.

Is there anything I need to know about my baby monitor?

All baby monitors with cords and other corded items need to be placed at least 3 feet away from a crib. CPSC knows of seven deaths and three near-strangulations since 2002 involving video and audio baby monitor cords. The monitors and cords were placed within a child’s reach.

I use a bassinet. What should I look for in my bassinet to make sure it’s safe?

CPSC is working on a new bassinet safety rule. Before buying or borrowing a bassinet, check this bassinet recall list to make sure the product has not been recalled. Make sure to follow the bassinet’s setup instructions and be sure that all fasteners are secure, including all snaps and Velcro. Use only the mattress supplied by the manufacturer for your specific bassinet and make sure that you assemble the bassinet properly. Improper assembly can lead to baggy or collapsed sides, gaps and openings that are dangerous areas in which babies can get trapped.

Those play yard mattresses are so thin. Won’t my baby be uncomfortable on it?

Play yard mattresses are thin for a reason. The play yard is a flexible structure. Adding extra padding, foam or mattresses to the play yard can cause babies to suffocate in one of two ways:

  1. The baby can get his or her face stuck in the added mattress or other soft items or
  2. Because of the extra additions, the flexible sides of the play yard can be pressed out. This creates dangerous and deadly gaps between the side and the added material in which a baby can get trapped.

Use only the mattress that came with the play yard. Before buying or borrowing a play yard, check this playpen/play yard recall list to make sure that the product you are using has not been recalled.

Play yard with baby sleeping on back correctly; play yard with extra mattress that creates a gap.

A baby should be placed to sleep flat on the thin play yard mattress that came with a play yard, as at left. Gaps such as the one at right can be dangerous and deadly, leading to suffocation.

I don’t want my child to get out of the crib or play yard. Can I put a tent on it?

Once a child is able to stand, do not use a tent with the crib or play yard. Crib tents are not made for, nor intended to, keep children in cribs and play yards. Children have become tangled and trapped in tents that were used to try to keep them in cribs and play yards. CPSC has received at least 27 reports of incidents involving tents used on cribs and play yards, including one death and one near death. CPSC recalled crib tents in May 2012. Do not use the recalled tents.

I need to lift my baby’s head while he’s sleeping. Can I add extra bedding underneath the mattress to raise it?

Seek advice from your pediatrician or health care provider before placing your baby to sleep in a more vertical position. If your doctor advises you to raise a mattress, make sure that no gaps are formed anywhere around the perimeter of the mattress. Also, keep the angle low enough that your baby doesn’t roll or slide down the mattress.

Should I use a bumper pad?

Bare is best when placing a baby to sleep in a crib. By creating the toughest crib safety standards in the world and urging parents to keep pillows, quilts, heavy blankets, and sleep positioners out of the crib, CPSC has made great strides to ensure that babies and toddlers have a safe sleep. Agency staff has previously stated that overstuffed bumper pads can be hazardous and staff is currently re-examining the safety of all crib bumpers, in an effort to provide parents with our best advice. We respect the attention that a number of cities and states have given to the safety of bumpers, and we will continue to use the best science and data available to provide parents with advice that they can trust.

If I use a bumper, is there an age or developmental milestone when I should remove it?

As soon as your child can stand, remove the bumper pads and lower the crib mattressto its lowest position. Toddlers will use anything available to climb out of the crib. Children can fall out of the crib and/or get entangled in the bumper.

What else should I be aware of when setting up my nursery?

Beware of cords. Never put a crib, bed or furniture close to windows with corded window coverings, because children can climb on them, gain access to the cords, and strangle. CPSC recommends the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit. In addition, keep baby monitor cords, lamp cords, telephone cords, and night light cords at least 3 feet away from the crib. Children can wrap the cords around their necks and strangle.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/09/safe-sleep-bedding-pillows-safety-and-more/

A Letter to Dr. Montgomery on “Private Practice”

Dear Dr. Addison Montgomery,

On last week’s episode of “Private Practice,” we saw that you have a new baby. Congratulations on becoming Henry’s mom! As you’re learning, parenthood is life altering.

You’re clearly a mom who researches and finds the best for her baby, even supplying breast milk from a milk bank. As an obstetrician, however, we would expect you to have researched the latest information about crib safety as well.

Henry's cluttered crib on the ABC TV Show "Private Practice"

This screen grab from "Private Practice" shows baby Henry in his crib

Those blankets and pillows in the crib have to go. Henry doesn’t need the cushioning. His baby needs are different than adult needs like yours. CPSC staff estimates that between 1992 and 2010 there were nearly 700 deaths involving children 12 months and younger related to pillows and cushions. Nearly half of the infant crib deaths and two-thirds of bassinet deaths reported to CPSC each year are suffocations from a baby being placed on top of pillows and thick quilts or because of overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space.

We are disappointed with the lack of research that went into creating Henry’s nursery, so allow us to help. We have a great video here that can teach you about how to put Henry to sleep safely. While you rightly placed Henry on his back, we did a double take through the TV for all the loose blankets and clutter in Henry’s crib.

In Henry’s — or any baby’s crib — bare is best. As a respected obstetrician watched in millions of homes around the country, we expect better.

Henry needs a firm, flat surface and nothing else.

Even though the pillow in the back of Henry’s crib looks small, pillows are a big problem in cribs. Pillows can block babies’ noses and mouths and can cause them to suffocate. On average, there are 32 infant deaths each year on pillows used as a mattress or to prop babies’ heads. The majority of these deaths are to infants in their first three months of life, just like Henry.

We’re guessing that you covered Henry with all those blankets in a well-meaning way, worried about his temperature. If his room is cold, dress him in warm clothes like footie pajamas. Do not use thick blankets. Babies can and do get their faces stuck in thick blankets and suffocate.

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn about how to make Henry’s crib safer for him. We hope he starts sleeping through the night for you soon!


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Children’s Safe Sleep Team

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/05/a-letter-to-dr-montgomery-on-private-practice/

Running for Safe Sleep

Runners start the Frederick County, MD, Crib Crawl 5K on April 7, 2012.

Runners start the Frederick County, MD, Crib Crawl 5K on April 7, 2012.

This isn’t just any 5K. It’s a 5K for Safe Sleep. And it’s something you can replicate in your own community.

The photo above is from a recent 5K run in Frederick County, Md. The organizers called it the Crib Crawl 5K. Their mission? Raise money to purchase safe cribs for families who can’t afford a crib or bassinet.

Jackie Whalen, of Frederick County Child Protective Services, tells us that about 10 children died in sleep-related fatalities in Frederick County from 2008 through 2011.

“All the children died sleeping with adults in beds or in places that had too much bedding,” Frederick County social services administrative assistant Melissa Myers told the Frederick News Post.

This is a problem nationwide. Of the hundreds of deaths associated with unsafe sleep environments during the past 20 years, many involved pillows and cushions. Nearly half of the infant crib deaths and two-thirds of bassinet deaths reported to CPSC each year are suffocations because of pillows, thick quilts and overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space.

The Frederick County deaths sparked the child welfare department to embark on a safe sleep education campaign in the county. “I was inspired by our prevention efforts, the passion of our staff members about Safe Sleeping and have always wanted to have a 5K involving child welfare issues,” Jackie Whalen told us.

If you’d like to organize Safe Sleep efforts in your community and need free materials, you can get them from us. Here are some ideas:

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/04/running-for-safe-sleep/

Play Yards: What Parents Should Know

Because of deaths and injuries associated with play yards, CPSC has started drafting mandatory safety standards for them. In fact, earlier this month the commissioners at CPSC voted unanimously to move forward with proposed rulemaking aimed at making play yards safer than ever before.

Play yards have been involved in about 50 deaths and about 2,000 non-fatal incidents, including 165 incidents that resulted in injuries such as cuts and bruises since November 2007. The majority of the infant deaths were 1-year-old or younger. New standards are aimed at reducing the risk of injury and death.

To protect your baby, know the risks. Deaths associated with play yards included children who climbed out of the play yard and drowned in a nearby pool. Caregivers should remember that play yards are meant for children who are less than 35 inches tall and who cannot climb out of the play yard. 

Other play yard deaths include entrapment from a collapsed play yard, strangulation from a looped strap hanging in the play yard and a child found entrapped between an unfolded mattress pad and the play yard floor liner.

Consumers should be especially careful about play yard attachments. Changing tables and bassinet attachments must be carefully installed. CPSC has received reports describing how the corner of bassinets detached from the frame of the play yard. Caregivers are reminded to review warning labels and instruction materials carefully when assembling play yards and play yard accessories, like bassinets. 

About 90% of incident reports describe the collapse of the play yard’s side rail. If the side rail collapses, a child can get their neck entrapped in the collapsed side rail, lose their footing and strangle. Side rail collapses also are dangerous because children can escape and may be injured outside the play yard.

Unfortunately, even a new federal standard can’t fully protect your baby from an unsafe sleep environment, so it’s up to you to keep the environment free of suffocation hazards.  The primary cause of play yard deaths is babies being placed in an unsafe sleep environment full of soft or extra bedding, such as pillows, quilts and comforters. Always remember a bare environment is best! 

Another leading cause of death is infants being placed face down. Babies should always be placed on their backs in a safe sleep environment such as a crib or play yard that meets current standards.

Caregivers also should ensure that play yards are placed away from window blind cords or computer cords that can fall into the play yard and strangle children inside.

To keep your baby safe check CPSC’s website for play yard and other nursery product recalls. Visit www.CPSC.gov/cribs for additional resources and safety information and sign up to get e-mail notification on recalls.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2011/09/play-yards-what-parents-should-know/