When you have a baby, household chores don’t end. It’s still necessary for new parents to cook dinner, wash dishes, send emails, fold laundry and clean the dishes. While completing these tasks, it can be tempting to place your baby in an infant lounger. These lightweight, portable pillows are easy to transport and have a groove that securely holds your baby’s head without the need for straps or harnesses.
Although infant loungers are loved by many parents, there are a number of safety issues and recall notices. The loungers can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and suffocation if they are not used properly. SIDS refers to a sudden, unexplained death in infants under one year old. It is the leading cause of infant fatality between birth and twelve months.
Parents are naturally concerned by red flags and have questions about infant loungers. How can I prevent my baby’s death from suffocation To learn more, we spoke to a pediatrician as well as a safety expert.
Are Infant Loungers Safe?
Infant loungers have been linked to injuries and even deaths. Amy Frias, an educator in the community at Children’s Health of Orange County (a Southern California pediatric healthcare system), explains that infant loungers can cause problems for babies.
Although infant loungers can be used for awake supervision, some parents ignore these instructions. Unsupervised infants could fall asleep on a lounger and roll over against the walls. They don’t have the strength to roll over. The risk of drowning increases if the baby is trapped, particularly if their nose or mouth becomes blocked.
Infant loungers are often recalled and investigated. In January 2022, for example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), urged parents not to use certain infant loungers made by Leachco (the Podster Plush and Bummzie, Podster Playtime, Podster Plush, Bummzie, and Podster Playtime). According to a notice from the agency, “CPSC is aware that two infants were placed on a Podster. Their noses and mouths were obstructed or blocked by the Podster or other object.” The infants were 17-days-old and four-months-old, respectively, in December 2015 and January 2018.
Another example is that The Boppy Company recalls approximately 3.3 million infant loungers for the same reason in September 2021. According to the CPSC recall notice, infants can suffocate if they roll or move on the lounger or place it in a way that obstructs their breathing. The Boppy loungers were linked to eight infant deaths.
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Do I need an infant lounger?
This question is difficult to answer. Experts don’t recommend infant loungers because of safety concerns or the increased risk of SIDS. Ari Brown, M.D. FAAP, Parents advisor, author of Expecting 411 and Toddler 411 states that just because a product has been put on the market, doesn’t mean it is approved by a pediatrician.
Others agree that infant loungers are fine as long as they are used with care. As long as the infant remains awake and is closely supervised, infant loungers can be used safely. Frias explains that these products are not intended for sleeping. “Parents are also advised to return the product’s registration card in order to be notified about any recalls in the future.”
Parents must weigh the risks and benefits. These infant loungers may be recommended by your pediatrician. Remember that any person using these products should always supervise their baby, even if they are just going to the toilet. You should immediately move your child to a safer place (such as their crib), if they fall asleep on the lounger. You should also make sure that the lounger is not placed on a table or bed. This could increase the chance of them falling to the ground.
SIDS Prevention Strategies For Parents
You want your baby to be safe, but are you concerned about infant loungers. You have better options to protect your baby, especially if they are at high risk of falling asleep. Dr. Brown says, “In the initial months, you do whatever you need to get your children to sleep, but it must be done safely.”
A crib, bassinet or portable crib is the best place to put a baby. Frias says that babies are most comfortable sleeping on their backs on a flat, firm surface such as a mattress with a fitted sheet, free from bumpers, blankets or pillows. Parents or caregivers should take a baby to their crib or bassinet if they fall asleep on a couch, bed or car seat.
These are other ways to ensure safe and healthy sleep.
Baby should be able to sleep in their bassinet and crib alone, but they should also be able to share a room with their caregivers. Frias says that room-sharing allows for close supervision of the baby and prevents accidents from occurring in an adult bed.
You should clear the crib of any clutter, including pillows, blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals.
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Babies should always lie on their backs when they go to bed. Avoid putting them on their stomachs or sides. Frias says that while tummy time can help strengthen a baby’s neck and shoulders, it should be done when the baby is awake so an adult can monitor them.