WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports (CR) this week expressed its strong support for new federal rules to make nursing pillows safer in a comment letter submitted to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) yesterday. In its comments, CR urged the agency to move forward and finalize its strong proposed safety standard for nursing pillows, which CR called a “reasonable and necessary” step to make nursing pillows safer for the families that rely on them during breastfeeding and bottle feeding. CR was one of the first organizations to sound the alarm about safety issues linked to nursing pillows more than two years ago after an investigation into a number of incidents.
According to the CPSC, the agency is aware of 154 infant fatalities and 88 nonfatal incidents involving nursing pillows from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2022. Of the fatalities, 142 involved the infant sleeping in or on a nursing pillow, and nearly all of the reported deaths involved babies six months old or younger. Nursing pillows are not a safe sleep environment for infants, and using them for sleep raises the risk of suffocation and sudden unexpected infant death (SUID).
Oriene Shin, policy counsel for Consumer Reports, said, “Consumer Reports commends the CPSC for taking steps to protect babies from harm while ensuring that parents and caregivers can keep benefitting from using a nursing pillow for feeding. Anyone who uses a nursing pillow should be able to trust that it is safe, and so it’s crucial for there to be a clear safety standard that applies across the market. We urge nursing pillow manufacturers to get on board with this sensible proposal and transition as soon as possible to selling only those products that meet these strong standards.”
Consumer Reports recommends that caregivers, manufacturers, and sellers take the following steps and precautions to protect infants from nursing pillow risks:
- Never use nursing pillows for infant sleep or any purpose other than to support the baby during breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
- Always take extra care while feeding to ensure the baby is breathing and their nostrils are not blocked.
- Design nursing pillows in a way that helps prevent the use of these products for lounging or other non-feeding uses that can lead to babies falling asleep in the product.
- Support the CPSC’s proposed safety standard for nursing pillows and encourage the agency to finalize it expeditiously.
- Sell only those products that meet the CPSC’s safety standard for nursing pillows, as soon as it is finalized.
Retailers, online platforms, and sellers should:
- Remain vigilant as the CPSC finalizes a safety standard and prepare to offer for sale only nursing pillows that meet the new requirements.
- Offer refunds to people who have bought nursing pillows subject to a government safety warning where the manufacturer has not conducted a recall.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations say that babies should be placed alone on a firm, flat surface in their own space, with only a fitted sheet and no added items such as blankets, pillows, padded crib bumpers, or toys in their sleeping space. 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 and SUID. Like the AAP, 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, crib, or play yard.
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