On Monday, President Joe Biden signed H.R. 3182 — known as the Safe Sleep for Babies Act — into law. The legislation prohibits the manufacture, sale, or distribution of crib bumpers or inclined sleepers with an incline of 10 degrees or more for infants after dozens of deaths were attributed to the products.
In a statement, Dr. Moira Szilagyi, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) praised the passage of the bill, which was sponsored by Reps. Janice Schakowsky, Janice (D., IL) and Mondaire Jones (D., NY) and introduced to the Senate by Tammy Duckworth (D., IL), Rob Portman (R., OH), and Richard Blumenthal (D., CT).
Szilagyi called the new law a “monumental victory for children's health and is a culmination of decades of pediatrician advocacy.”
“Despite what the science shows, crib bumpers and inclined sleepers have remained on the market and store shelves, misleading parents into thinking they are safe and leading to dozens of preventable infant deaths,” Szilagyi said. “No family should ever experience this tragedy ... parents will have the long overdue peace of mind that these dangerous products can no longer find their way into their homes.”
For decades, safety advocates and pediatricians have understood the dangers of these products. Crib bumpers, padded materials inserted around the inside of a crib, were tied to the deaths of 113 infants from 1990 to March 2019. Inclined sleepers, such as certain designs from Fisher-Price, have been attributed to at least 100 infant deaths, resulting in numerous recalls. While city and state level bans have been in effect in places like Chicago and Maryland from as early as 2011, this is the first time such a law has been passed on the national level. The legislation was endorsed not only by the AAP but by Kids in Danger, Consumer Federation of American, Consumer Reports, Public Citizen, and Breathable Baby.
The AAP recommends that all infants should sleep on flat and firm surfaces, by themselves, without any bumpers, soft bedding, pillows, or stuffed toys. They specifically warn against the use of crib bumpers and inclined infant sleeper products can cause a baby to suffocate.
But the wording of the law has some concerned, specifically the 180-day grace period for manufacturers and distributors. In other words, new parents and well-meaning friends and family buying baby gifts will still be able to find and legally purchase such items until Nov. 12 of this year.
“It’s unfortunate that this law could take months to take effect,” Teresa Murray of the consumer watchdog group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, noted in a statement. “Parents and caregivers need to recognize the dangers of these products and get them out of their homes now. We consumer advocates will work to educate caregivers about products that may already be in use or may be passed down to new parents or found at garage sales or online.”