Household duties don’t take a break when a new baby arrives. New parents still need to manage daily tasks while caring for their little one, and it’s often tempting to use infant loungers to keep the baby comfortable and secure while getting things done. These portable pillows have a unique design that cradles the baby without the need for straps or harnesses.
While infant loungers can seem like a practical solution, they come with safety concerns and have been associated with suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when used incorrectly. SIDS is a sudden, unexplained death of an infant under 1 year of age, most often during sleep, and it remains a leading cause of infant mortality.
So, are infant loungers safe? Unfortunately, there have been incidents and fatalities linked to their use, primarily when babies are allowed to sleep in them. Infant loungers are intended for supervised awake time, but some parents may not adhere to these guidelines. If an unsupervised baby falls asleep in a lounger, they could roll over and become trapped against the sides, which can be dangerous since infants lack the strength to roll themselves back over. This can increase the risk of suffocation, particularly if the baby’s nose or mouth is obstructed.
It’s not uncommon for infant loungers to be recalled or investigated due to safety concerns. For example, in January 2022, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an alert regarding certain infant loungers manufactured by Leachco, linking them to suffocation incidents. Similarly, The Boppy Company recalled about 3.3 million infant loungers in September 2021 due to concerns about infant deaths associated with their use.
The decision to use an infant lounger should be made carefully, considering the potential risks. Some experts do not recommend them at all due to safety concerns and the elevated risk of SIDS. Others suggest that infant loungers can be used safely, provided that all necessary precautions are followed, such as always keeping a close eye on the baby and ensuring they remain awake. Ultimately, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician for guidance and weigh the benefits and risks. Regardless of the decision, never leave a baby unsupervised in an infant lounger, and if the baby falls asleep in one, move them to a safer sleeping location immediately.
For safe sleep practices and SIDS prevention, it is strongly recommended to place babies in a crib, bassinet, or portable crib. Babies should sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface, with no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, or other objects. It’s essential for babies to sleep alone in their crib or bassinet, sharing the same room with their caregivers. Room-sharing allows for close monitoring while preventing accidents that may occur in an adult bed, such as rolling onto the baby. Babies should be placed on their backs for sleep, and tummy time should only be done when the baby is awake and under adult supervision. Overheating and exposure to secondhand smoke should be avoided as well.