Baby sleep products linked to more than 200 infant deaths in the U.S will soon be banned under federal law. Earlier this week, President Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021, outlawing the manufacture and sale of crib bumpers and some inclined infant sleepers. The move has been welcomed by child safety advocates who say the new law will essentially save children’s lives.
Although the White House made the announcement on Monday, retailers and manufacturers still have 180 days to comply with the new law. This sadly gives the dangerous baby sleep products more time to inflict heartache on families who are unaware of the safety hazard. Speaking to CBS News, Consumer Watchdog with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund Teresa Murray said it’s unfortunate that the law could take months to take effect. She added that parents and caregivers need to recognize the dangers of these products and immediately get rid of them.
According to NPR, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recorded 83 crib bumper-related deaths as well as 97 fatalities due to inclined sleepers. Addressing these fatal baby sleep products in a statement, Executive Director of the Group Kids in Danger Nancy Cowles said, “For decades, consumer, health and parent groups have decried the sale of these dangerous products. We thank the families and organizations who have worked so hard to keep children safe and look forward to the end of these deadly products on store shelves and in our nurseries.”
A lot of baby sleep products have come under scrutiny in recent years as their padding poses a significant risk to babies who can roll over onto these surfaces and suffocate. Additionally, several companies willingly recalled their inclined sleepers due to suffocation risks. The popular Rock ‘n Play sleeper by Fisher-Price which launched in 2009 was recalled a decade later after selling around 4.7 million units. The product was also the subject of a congressional investigation that found that the company was aware of the risk long before it pulled it from store shelves.
The new legislation protects infants by banning inclined sleepers greater than 10 degrees that are “intended, marketed, or designed” as a sleeping surface for children up to a year old. Inclined baby sleep products need to be at an angle of 10 degrees or lower, and meet other guidelines which are already in place for cribs and bassinets. The bill also outlaws crib accessories marketed as “anti injury” such as padded bumpers, vinyl bumper guards, and vertical crib slat covers. Non-padded mesh crib liners have not been banned.
Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., who introduced the baby sleep products legislation, expressed his relief that the bill was signed into law this week. “Families will finally get the peace of mind that comes with knowing the sleep products they purchase for their newborns are safe,” he said via NPR. “This new law will save lives and protect our kids by banning life-threatening crib bumper pads and inclined sleep products from store shelves.” Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep alone, on their backs on a firm, flat surface.