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Consumer Reports statement on CPSC warning about nursing pillows

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Product Safety Commission today warned parents and caregivers to never let infants sleep on nursing pillows or other pillowlike products, such as lounging pads. These products pose a suffocation hazard for babies. The agency announced that it is investigating deaths associated with these products “when children are left on or near pillows, and the child rolls over, rolls off, or falls asleep.”

 The CPSC release notes that the agency is investigating the entire class of products and is not issuing a warning with regard to any specific brand at this time. The warning applies to all nursing pillows and baby loungers, which are made by companies such as Boppy, Blessed Nest, Ergobaby, Leachco, Luna Lullaby, and Zenoff Products (maker of My Brest Friend). They are sold at major retailers such as Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, and Target. Nursing pillows are meant to make breastfeeding easier; lounging pads are for babies to sit or lie on. Both are designed for babies to use while awake and supervised.

 Consumer Reports analyzed data from the CPSC, including from its SaferProducts.gov public database of incidents, and found at least 28 infant deaths from 2012 to 2018 tied to nursing pillows and baby loungers. Many of the reports were among data that the CPSC sent to CR in 2019, which mistakenly contained manufacturer and brand names. Normally, because of a controversial law unique to the agency, the CPSC redacts company information from those reports. This disclosure led to an ongoing investigation by CR into the dangers of inclined sleepers and other infant sleep products, which prompted the recall of at least 5.6 million inclined sleepers, including the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper.

 William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports, said, “This is an essential warning about nursing pillows and baby loungers. It’s rare for federal safety officials to make a public statement like this in the middle of an investigation. We commend the CPSC for alerting parents and caregivers to the danger while it works to get to the bottom of the issue.”

 Wallace says that federal law makes it extremely difficult for the CPSC to notify the public about specific product safety hazards prior to a recall, which has contributed to damaging delays and to dozens of infant deaths linked to Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleepers remaining hidden for years.

“Today’s announcement is a step forward for transparency, but it’s critical for Congress to take action, too,” Wallace says. “The CPSC must be able to warn the public much more quickly and in much more specific terms when it knows a product puts people at risk of getting hurt or killed.”

The government announcement today comes as the CPSC is reevaluating standards for infant sleep products. The agency stated in its release that “each year, almost a thousand infants tragically suffocate in their sleep.”

While nursing pillows and lounging pads are not intended for sleep, reports in the CPSC data show that caregivers sometimes use the products for that purpose, which can lead to suffocation in several ways. Babies may roll over onto their sides or stomachs and turn their heads into the soft fabric, blocking airflow. Or, when babies are propped up on an incline against the pillow or lounger, their heads can fall forward, blocking their airway. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics says infants should sleep alone, unrestrained, on their backs on a firm, flat surface that is free of soft padding and bedding.

Like the American Academy of Pediatrics, CR’s safety experts recommend that babies be put to bed only in products that meet federal safety requirements for infant sleep, such as a bassinet, bedside sleeper, crib, or play yard. If caregivers are having trouble with infant sleep, the best bet is to ask their pediatricians for help.

 If you have had an incident with a pillowlike product or any other product, you can report it to the CPSC at SaferProducts.gov.

 For more information from CR about today’s CPSC announcement, read today’s CR story: “Infant Deaths Prompt Government to Warn Against Using Nursing Pillows for Sleep.”


Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org


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