Safe sleep messaging can be overwhelming for new parents, especially considering the number and variety of products available on store shelves. However, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) remains the leading cause of preventable death among infants 0-1. In fact, incidence of accidental suffocation (included in SUID statistics), has actually increased slightly over the last few years.

There are many factors that contribute to the confusion around safe sleep and infant sleep products. A recent study out of University of Alabama found that 35% of advertisers do not follow safe sleep guidelines when advertising their products. The more caregivers see unsafe sleep messaging, the more normalized it becomes, and the harder it is to know what is safe. Safe sleep messaging can also sometimes become confused around specific products. For example, we recently shared a Baby Bargains review of the DockATot on our Facebook page. The review concluded, and we agree, that the DockATot is not recommended, due to safety concerns, a lack of testing, and similarities to the recalled Nap Nanny. Health Canada, the Canadian Public Health Agency, also warns against baby nest products, meaning any product with “small, portable bed for an infant that has soft, padded sides.” In response, many caregivers shared that they have been using the DockATot without any problems, and will continue to use it with their children. However, it’s important to note that just because not every baby is hurt in a product, that doesn’t mean that product is necessarily safe, and it could still result in injuries or deaths for others.

In order to help parents and caregivers navigate these conflicting messages and make the safest choices, we created a simple safe sleep checklist. Using this list, parents and caregivers can evaluate any product through a series of 8 “yes” or “no” questions related to safety issues. This checklist can easily be brought to the store or used while shopping online. The second page provides the answers, making it easy to best understand whether or not to buy a particular product. We ask questions such as: Has the product been recalled? Does it have restraints or cords and is intended for sleep? Does it add additional products into a sleep environment? The DockATot fails on several of the requirements of our checklist, including having extra padding and not being covered by an updated safety standard, making it a risky choice for parents. For the full checklist, click here.

Our goal in evaluating these products for safety is not to stifle innovation, but rather to protect our most vulnerable consumers from these all-too-common hazards. We have unfortunately worked with families who have lost their children to unsafe sleep products. For example, baby Juliette died as a result of positional asphyxia in the Nap Nanny, which has since been recalled, and bears resemblance to the DockATot. When it comes to infant sleep environments, we will always make recommendations based on the most current research and guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). We also recognize that it is up to individual families to determine which products they will use with their children. We share this information in the hope that it will help parents and caregivers make the safest choices for their children.

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