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U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Reveals New Regulations On Infant Sleepers

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The first weeks and months of a baby's life are precious, and they can be perilous, especially if parents who are desperate to coax their infant to sleep turn to a product they may have heard about from a slick marketing campaign or on social media.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The newborn Rock ’n Play sleeper is the perfect spot for baby. The soft incline seat is ideal for occasionally sleeping all night or for napping and play during the day.

RACHEL RABKIN PEACHMAN: It can be really confusing for parents to figure out which products are safe and which are not safe. In fact, most consumers believe that all products that are on the market have been vetted already and safety tested. And that is not necessarily the case.

SIMON: Rachel Rabkin Peachman is an investigative reporter who's looked at infant sleepers for Consumer Reports for years.

PEACHMAN: These sleepers are incredibly dangerous. They drastically increase the risk of suffocation if a baby is put to sleep in them.

SIMON: But it wasn't until this week that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved a new mandatory safety standard for the inclined sleepers or bed sleepers that have been linked to dozens of infant deaths.

PEACHMAN: The new rule that's been announced this week is actually a big win for consumer safety advocates. What it's saying is that, basically, any product that goes on the market now that is marketed for infant sleep must adhere to safety-tested infant sleep standards. That means that the product has to fit into either category of crib, bassinet, cradles, play yards or bedside sleepers.

SIMON: The new standard won't take effect until the middle of the year. Alexis Dubief, author of "Precious Little Sleep," says that parents have to be especially vigilant and focus less on the device that promises to lull a baby into slumber.

ALEXIS DUBIEF: So none of these products are going to help soothe your child to sleep and are not going to help your child sleep longer. Parents who are wondering about how to help their children sleep better would be far better served by focusing on the basics of sleep hygiene, which would be things like appropriate schedule, independent sleep and safe sleep.

SIMON: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform holds a hearing on infant product safety failures on Capitol Hill on Monday. Executives from Fisher-Price, the maker of the 4-in-1 Rock 'n Glide Soother that was just recalled, are expected to testify.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAMMAL HANDS' "LANTERN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.