Doctors warn parents to avoid using weighted swaddles or blankets for babies

The American Academy of Paediatrics has issued new guidelines on safe sleeping for infants and toddlers, just one week after a reported 13 deaths occurred from infants placed in inclined rockers. The latest guidance addresses weighted swaddles or blankets, with doctors now recommending parents avoid using the products on their infants, as it could increase the risk of suffocation.

On 21 June, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) revised its safe sleep policy from 2016 to include new recommendations for reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The updated policy emphasises a number of safe-sleep recommendations from the previous version – including that babies should sleep on a firm, flat non-inclined surface. For the first time, the updated report also issued a new recommendation for the use of weighted blankets or swaddles.

“There is a high risk for death if a swaddled infant is placed in or rolls to the prone position,” the AAP said, adding that there is “no evidence” to suggest swaddling helps reduce the risk of SIDS. “If infants are swaddled, always place them on the back,” they said.

“Weighted swaddle clothing or weighted objects within swaddles are not safe and therefore not recommended. When an infant exhibits signs of attempting to roll (which usually occurs at age three to four months but may occur earlier), swaddling is no longer appropriate because it could increase the risk of suffocation if the swaddled infant rolls to the prone position,” they continued.

Doctors explained that proper swaddling should be snug around the chest but allow for ample room at the hips and knees. Parents can also decide whether to swaddle their child with their arms in or out of the blanket.

“We’ve made great strides in learning what keeps infants safe during sleep but much work still needs to be done,” Dr Rachel Moon, lead author of the safe sleep report, said in a statement.

“A baby’s death is tragic, heartbreaking and often preventable. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that simple is best: babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet, on their back, without soft toys, pillows, blankets or other bedding,” she added.

The new recommendations come after President Biden signed the Safe Sleep Act for Babies into law last March. The new legislation bans the manufacture, sale, or distribution of inclined sleep products and crib bumper pads, which have been linked to more than 200 reported deaths in the US.

Last week, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Fisher-Price issued an alert for the company’s Infant-to-Toddler Rockers and Newborn-to-Toddler Rockers after “at least 13 reported deaths” occurred between 2009 and 2021.

According to the CPSC, the deaths happened when the babies fell asleep in the rockers. The company advised parents and caregivers that rockers “should never be used for sleep and infants should never be unsupervised or unrestrained in the Rockers.”

As a result, the CPSC finalised a rule that requires infant sleep products to have a sleep surface angle of 10 degrees or less, which goes into effect on 23 June 2022.

The Independent contacted Fisher-Price for comment.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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