Are baby sleep positioners safe?

A concern raised over the safety of sleep positioners has led to some UK retailers pulling the products from their stores.

This week, retailers including Mothercare, Tesco, John Lewis, Ebay and Boots have stopped the sale of sleep positioners. This is in response to a statement from a US health regulator warning parents not to use them.

The statement was released after an investigation into the death of 12 babies showed a link between suffocation and the use of sleep positioners.

"These products—sometimes also called “nests” or “anti-roll” products—can cause suffocation (a struggle to breathe) that can lead to death."
Read the full statement: ‘Do not use infant sleep positioners due to the risk of suffocation’

The retailers above have removed these products while they undertake further investigation and seek advice about their saftey.

What is a sleep positioner?

An infant sleep positioner is a mat with “bolsters” (raised supports or pillows) attached to each side. They are designed to keep babies under six months old in a specific position while sleeping. Sometimes they also feature a wedge to raise the baby’s head.

Often positioners are marketed to parents as a way to help baby sleep better and longer.

Our midwife Amanda's thoughts

"Although there is a huge array of baby products on the market, a firm flat surface and some bedding is all that is necessary to keep your baby safe. Place your baby on their back and ensure that their heads are not covered. This reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). There is no need for a positioner or rolled blankets to keep your baby in this safe position. Cover your baby with sheets and blankets, only up to their shoulders, and this will help ensure that the baby doesn’t overheat."

10 tips for putting baby to bed safely

  1. Put baby to bed on their back.
  2. Never put them on their tummy or side.
  3. Avoid falling asleep with your baby on the sofa or in an armchair.
  4. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot or a Moses basket.
  5. Do not cover baby’s face or head with a blanket.
  6. Avoid loose bedding.
  7. Do not let baby get too hot – the room should be 16-20°C and they only need light bedding, not a duvet or quilt.
  8. Opt for a flat, waterproof mattress.
  9. Make sure the cot is clear – no toys, pillows or cushions.
  10. Keep baby’s cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months.

For more information about safer sleep for baby, visit The Lullaby Trust.