You may have heard that the AAP urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper due to 32 sleep-related infant deaths between 2011 and 2018 (see original article). These deaths were often as a result of asphyxiation, where the infant could not breathe due to his position, or to rolling out of the device.
Maybe you have used or are using a Rock ‘n Play with your baby or know someone that uses one. Perhaps maybe you’ve experienced infant loss due to SIDS or know someone who has, and strictly follow all safe-sleep recommendations to put your baby only to sleep in an empty crib on his back. Or maybe you haven’t heard anything about any of this yet, and have no idea what I’m talking about.
Regardless, as a sleep coach, I just want to take this opportunity to firstly, acknowledge the complicated and emotional nature around conversations on safe sleep and SIDS, as well as support you in making wise decisions when it comes to your little one’s sleep.
As tired and sleep deprived moms, often the only thing that we can think about is how we can get our babies to sleep – in any way possible – just to get a bit of shut-eye and rest ourselves. We feel like we are actually insane, and we perhaps start to do things sleep-wise that we know are not super safe, but we are so desperate for rest that we start to make some compromises. Have you ever nursed baby in the middle of the night, only to realize hours later that you accidentally fell asleep before putting him back into his crib/side-car co-sleeper and baby is still right next to you?? I know I have.
Maybe even reading the above paragraph made your blood boil at the thought of someone being so careless, perhaps because you have personally experienced SIDS or know someone who has. If this is the case, I’m so very sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the hell that you or your loved one has been through.
However, I just wanted to lovingly suggest that we step back from the emotions just for a moment. I think then we’ll actually see that we are all moms who want the best for our babies. We know that if we get good rest ourselves, then we will be better parents. Higher rates of child abuse and shaken baby syndrome are linked with sleep deprivation and maternal depression. Instinctively we know that if we get some rest, we are actually in a way protecting our little ones.
Marketing does a really bad job of supporting mums in this way. There are so many products for sale that help babies to fall asleep better and stay asleep longer, but not always in a safe way. One would think all products available would have gone through a rigorous testing process. However, it is obviously difficult to run full-scale scientific research on each and every product, and at the end of the day, companies often just want to make a sale.
Thus, it is even more important when a body like the AAP, who is committed to protecting infants and children from SIDS and to constantly pursuing the newest research, urges us as parents to avoid certain products.
Let me be clear: the fact that the AAP has urged a recall of all Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play devices does NOT implicate that you are a terrible parent if you have used/are using one, nor does it give you the right to judge another parent for using one. Some of the posts and comments on social media around this topic make me absolutely sick.
Please be kind – to yourself, and to others.
However, as a sleep coach, I want to emphasize and reiterate what the AAP has said in this article:
“The AAP does not recommend inclined sleep products like the Rock ‘n Play, or any other products for sleep that require restraining a baby. The AAP advises against using car seats, strollers or other devices for sleep because of the risk that a baby could roll or turn into an unsafe position and be incapable of moving, leading to suffocation or strangulation.”
If your little one is having trouble sleeping in his bed, and you are feeling stressed and sleep deprived, please feel free to reach out to us or another professional for advice, rather than you’re your baby in a dangerous sleep environment. That’s what we are here for – to help you find a solution that works for your family, encouraging your baby to sleep the best he can at his age, and in a safe way. There are lots of safe ways to encourage good and healthy sleep, and we’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to.
For more safe sleep guidelines, visit this article by HealthyChildren.org