A new federal law bans baby sleep products linked to nearly 200 infant deaths

Two baby sleep products linked to nearly 200 infant deaths will soon be banned under federal law, a move child safety advocates say will save children’s lives.

President Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021 on Monday, outlawing the manufacture and sale of crib bumpers and certain inclined infant sleepers.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recorded 83 crib bumper-related deaths as well as 97 fatalities due to inclined sleepers, lawmakers said.

“For decades, consumer, health and parent groups have decried the sale of these dangerous products,” Nancy Cowles, executive director of the group Kids In Danger, said in a statement.

“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,” she added.

What the new law does to protect infants

Some padded sleep products pose a significant risk to infants who can roll over onto the padded surfaces and suffocate.

The legislation will ban inclined sleepers greater than 10 degrees that are “intended, marketed, or designed” as a sleeping surface for children up to age one.

It also outlaws products aimed at preventing babies from injuring themselves on the sides of a crib or fitting between the slats, such as padded crib bumpers, vinyl bumper guards and vertical crib slat covers. Non-padded mesh crib liners are excluded from the ban.

“Families will finally get the peace of mind that comes with knowing the sleep products they purchase for their newborns are safe,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., who introduced the legislation. “This new law will save lives and protect our kids by banning life-threatening crib bumper pads and inclined sleep products from store shelves.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep alone and on their backs on a firm, flat surface.

Both items will be designated as hazardous products banned under the Consumer Product Safety Act no later than 180 days after the law was enacted.

Inclined sleepers have been under scrutiny for a while

A number of companies in conjunction with the CPSC have recalled their infant inclined sleeper products in recent years over suffocation risks.

Among them was Fisher-Price’s massively popular Rock ‘n Play sleeper, which was brought to the market in 2009 and recalled a decade later in 2019 after selling roughly 4.7 million units.

The Rock ‘n Play was the subject of a congressional investigation last year that found that the company knew of the risks posed by the sleeper long before it pulled it from store shelves.

Last June the CPSC approved a new federal safety standard for infant sleep products, such as inclined sleepers, ensuring they are at an angle 10 degrees or lower and meet other guidelines in place for cribs and bassinets.

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