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Allowing bub to stay asleep in a car seat, pram or rocker can be tempting. After all, they’re finally asleep and nobody wants to risk waking a sleeping baby by moving them.
But the harsh truth is that the danger to infants who sleep on an incline are significant, which is why the fact that some companies are creating products designed for inclined sleeping is mind-blowing. Perhaps even more concerning is the lax approach to safety laws in Australia when it comes to these products.
73 infant deaths have been linked to inclined sleepers in the US, statistics that have CHOICE calling on the Australian government to introduce tighter product safety laws here.
Inclined surfaces can cause an infant’s head to fall forward onto their chest, posing a huge suffocation risk (Illustration by Chris Philpot for Consumer Reports)
CHOICE experts say that based on research conducted in the US, inclined sleepers are so dangerous for young babies that they should be completely avoided.
Two inclined sleeping products have been recalled in Australia in recent years – the Rock ‘N Play and Kids2 sleepers – but the Federal Government needs to step up and prevent unsafe products from getting into Australian homes in the first place.
“At the moment, the public is being treated as a testing lab for dangerous products. Safety tests should be conducted in factories, not in people’s homes,” says product safety campaigner, Amy Pereira.
“Inclined sleepers are particularly hazardous because of their soft, sloped surface. This kind of surface may increase the risk of sudden and unexpected death, as babies can roll over or have their head fall forward while in them and suffocate.”
“We’ve seen countless examples of unsafe products flooding our homes,” says Pereira. “It shouldn’t be up to the person buying the product to check whether it’s going to harm them or not. They should be able to assume it’s safe.”
“Australians need a new product safety law to put responsibility where it should be – with the manufacturer, to ensure that their product is safe before it’s sold.”
WATCH: CHOICE expert Kim Gilmour explains what safe and unsafe sleeping environments for infants look like. Continues after video …
CHOICE is calling for a General Safety Duty. This involves introducing a new section on product safety into the Australian Consumer Law so that all products will be subject to basic and sensible safety checks before going on sale.
Inclined surfaces pose a huge suffocation risk to infants (Illustration by Chris Philpot for Consumer Reports)
Sydney’s sleep expert Cheryl Fingleson from Cheryl the Sleep Coach reminds new parents that there are some simple but proven tools to keep baby secure, warm and safe as he or she learns the challenging art of sleeping well.
1. Sleep baby on their back from birth – never on their tummy or side
2. Use appropriate bedding
3. Avoid exposing baby to tobacco smoke before and after birth
Sleep coach, Cheryl Fingleson says parents should know that they don’t have to feel like they’re struggling through the journey on their own, and can always get help from a trained professional.
4. Sleep baby in the same room, but not in the same bed
5. Provide a safe sleeping environment for baby night and day.