How Safe Are Babies in Bassinets?

June 27, 2008 07:00 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
With increasing numbers of parents placing their babies in bassinets to sleep, researchers are examining their safety.

30-Second Summary

More than 45 percent of infants between zero and two months old sleep in bassinets, but experts know little about bassinet safety.

In fact, bassinets are not yet subject to any government safety standards.

But because bassinet use has gone up considerably in recent years, researchers from the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. are studying records of 53 sudden infant deaths that occurred in bassinets between 1990 and 2004.

In 85 percent of the cases examined, babies died from lack of oxygen.

The records, which came from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), noted that more than half of the babies who “died suddenly and unexpectedly” were found on their stomachs; 74 percent were sleeping with blankets, pillows and even plastic bags in the bassinet.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) suggests the sleeping surface in a crib or bassinet be kept smooth, without pillows or fluffy blankets, and that the mattress be covered with a fitted sheet.

NICHD also states that babies are safest when they sleep on their backs (even for naps), and urged parents to avoid bed sharing because it is responsible for a substantial number of infant deaths.

Since bassinets allow parents to keep babies close at night without the risks of bedsharing, the CPSC has offered some bassinet safety guidelines. In addition to a “firm, snuggly fitting mattress,” bassinets should have legs that lock, a wide base and “smooth surfaces without protruding hardware.”

Headline Link: Sleep hazards for babies

Related Topics: Infant sleep safety; babies ‘chilling out’

Reference: Infant safety resources


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