President Joe Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act into law on May 16. The Act, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 23, 2021, and by the U.S. Senate on May 3, prohibits the manufacture or sale of padded crib bumper pads and inclined sleepers.
A Consumer Reports investigation into the deaths tied to inclined sleepers for infants was instrumental in prompting the new law. Between 1990 and March 31, 2019, 113 infant deaths involving crib bumpers were reported. In addition, more than 100 babies have died in inclined sleepers.
“This is a long-fought and important victory for babies and anyone who cares about babies. The dangers posed to babies have been apparent for years,” Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, said in a statement. “Manufacturers of inclined sleepers in particular have danced around the risks in part by saying the products aren’t intended for sleeping, even though some of the marketing shows babies being rocked in the product or suggests the product will lead to sweet dreams.”
Padded bumpers inside a crib can cause suffocation by covering an infant’s nose and mouth or cause a baby to get stuck between the bumper and crib mattress. Inclined sleepers have a slanted sleep surface that can compromise a baby’s airway and cause positional asphyxiation.
Dr. Moira Szilagyi, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, released a statement on the passage of the Safe Sleep for Babies Act.
“The message from pediatricians has long been clear: the safest sleep environment for babies is a firm, flat, bare surface,” Szilagyi said in the statement. “Despite what the science shows, crib bumpers and inclined sleepers have remained on the market and store shelves, misleading parents into thinking they are safe and leading to dozens of preventable infant deaths. No family should ever experience this tragedy. When this bill becomes law, parents will have the long-overdue peace of mind that these dangerous products can no longer find their way into their homes.”
Although the law is now in place, companies have 180 days to comply before the ban kicks in. Despite recalls of many of these products over the past few years, many are still in use. Consumer Reports urges parents to immediately stop using these and any other sleep products that don’t meet federal safety requirements.