Dear Baby Stores: Please Stop With The Soft, Adorable, And Suffocating Crib Bedding
When you’re expecting a baby, it’s easy to look at magazine photos of crib bedding and fall in love with those matching sets of bumpers, blankets, and pillows. But please, people, keep that stuff out of your kids’ crib until they are old enough to fix a situation in which they find themselves unable to breathe.
When I had my kids almost seven years ago, all I heard about when talking about infant sleep was the “Back To Sleep” campaign (which is now called Safe To Sleep.) I was told in my how-to books and in my parenting class that the safest way for a baby to sleep was on it’s back, and that it was also dangerous to put anything in their crib like stuffed animals or blankets, regardless of how freaking cute it looks. So when I brought my kids home, their cribs looked like wee little holding cells: just a mattress with a fitted sheet behind a row of bars. Night-night, baby.
Today, the National Institutes of Health released the results of a study that show that:
Nearly 55 percent of U.S. infants are placed to sleep with bedding that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, despite recommendations against the practice…
The number of parents who do this has gone down significantly (about 30% over the past ten years), but the fact that it is still over 50% is a problem. How is it that there are still a lot of parents who don’t know that this is dangerous? Study author Marian Willinger, Ph.D., says that parents are getting “mixed messages”:
“Relatives may give them quilts or fluffy blankets as presents for the new baby, and they feel obligated to use them. Or they see magazine photos of babies with potentially unsafe bedding items.”
That’s some truth right there. Many new parents can’t afford childbirth classes, don’t have time to read the books, or choose to rely on what their parents and grandparents did to care for their babies. And when they go out shopping for crib bedding, it’s not like they’re going to see a lot of floor models that are just bare cribs with fitted sheets. For example, this is one of the best-selling crib bedding sets available at Babies R’ Us.com:
What a lovely, cushy bumper and quilt you have there, little baby. Good night and good luck! Why would manufacturers make these kinds of products for newborns when everything out there says that they’re not safe? Well, most of these bedding sets cost well over a hundred dollars. The cost of a fitted sheet? Around twenty dollars.
I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
Bare cribs, though safer, aren’t cute. They don’t tap into the soft, fuzzy, cuddly feeling that many expectant mothers are soaking in. But manufacturers are also expecting all parents to know better than to cover a newborn with a heavy quilt, which isn’t fair. It’s like selling a combo pack containing a liter of vodka and a handgun and saying, “But don’t actually use these together. You know that right?” As the NIH says:
…a study of images from popular magazines targeting women of childbearing age found that more than two thirds of these images showed infants sleeping with potentially hazardous bedding such as blankets and pillows.
“Seeing images such as these may reinforce beliefs and perceptions that having these items in the infant sleep area is not only a favorable practice, but also the norm,” the researchers wrote.
Let’s get some super-cute bare bones cell-like baby cribs out there, folks. We need to sell it and make it the norm in order for everyone to buy in. Save the blankets and such for older kids; kids who can, you know, move their heads independently and stuff.