SAFE SLEEP 101: READ THE FINE PRINT
Bear with me on this one. I promise it includes a valuable story. In fact, it’ll probably be one of the most important posts I’ve ever written. The main take home message here? Read the fine print! It is really, really easy to be misled into believing a potentially dangerous product is safe for your baby.
As most of you know, I am very passionate about promoting safe sleep practices. Because of this, I feel an obligation towards parents and infants to share an experience I recently had with the manufacturer of a baby sleep device. My intention is not to slander another company (in fact, I have chosen not to disclose the name), but rather to show just how easy it is for companies to market their product as being “safe,” “tested,” and “approved,” when in fact it may be life-threatening for babies if used the way it is promoted.
Back in July, I posted a safe sleep tip that was inspired by a viral photo on Kim Kardashian's Instagram account. It showed her newborn baby sleeping in a DocATot (an unsafe sleep device, though not the one I’m focusing on in this article) inside a crib, with a bumper, loose bedding, stuffed animals, and more. When I first saw it, my heart skipped a few beats.
Immediately, I thought, "I need to use this in a post so people can see that fame doesn’t mean someone is an expert or a good role model."
I was proud of this post. It showed my creative and humorous side, and I believed it would be eye-catching as so many of us are sucked into the picture-perfect lives of the rich and famous.
I was right. It received the most engagement of any post I’ve ever shared.
Shortly after uploading it, I received a notification that another business had commented on it and shared it on their own Facebook page. They included praise for my safe sleep post, then followed with a link to their website and a suggestion for my audience to use their “safe” product in place of the DocATot.
I clicked on the link and found that their product is similar to a baby hammock. It gets attached to the crib bars and hangs in the center with baby laying in the middle. Basically replacing one item unsafe for infant sleep with another.
A video pinned to the top of their page reassures parents that the product will help their child sleep through the night safely. They really emphasized the “safe sleep” factor.
Now, I’ll admit—when I first saw that another company had shared my post, I got a little excited. But after seeing their product, my feelings quickly turned to disappointment. There was no way I’d be able to provide support for their product.
I chose to become a Child Sleep Coach certified by the Family Sleep Institute. I literally signed a piece of paper with the FSI that obligates me to follow (and encourage my clients to follow) the AAP's safe sleep recommendations. It seemed this company was using my post to promote exactly the opposite of what I stand for and the point I had intended for my clever post.
Right away, I responded with a comment about safe sleep standards as outlined by both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Both organizations state that the safest space for an infant to sleep is on his/her back, on a firm surface, in a bare crib (or another infant bed that has passed safe sleep standards). There is to be nothing in the crib but a fitted sheet. This means no attachments that weren’t tested and sold specifically for that infant bed.
Translation? No hammocks.