Fisher Price just issued a recall on their 4-In-1 Rock ‘N Glide Soother, an infant seat that can rock a baby forward and back as well as side-to-side. Four deaths have been reported: in each case, the baby was placed in it without the safety straps on and the baby subsequently rolled over in the seat and suffocated. They were four months old, two months old, two months old, and 11-weeks old.
Back in 2019, Fisher Price recalled almost 5 million Rock N Play Sleepers after 10 babies died in them. The deaths occurred “in most cases” after the babies rolled over in the devices, due to the fact that the safety straps were not used.
Clearly, the first lesson with these recalls is that it's critically important that safety straps are always used in infant containment devices. No matter what. It also suggests that parents should try not to rely on any inclined baby seat.
I have to admit that I was pretty devastated when the Rock n Play was recalled. My younger daughter LOVED that thing and would sleep up to 10 hours straight in it. It’s been hard to admit to my clients that that was a huge part of my success with sleep training!
Parents today have it harder, no doubt about it. A lot of newborns just don’t want to sleep flat on their backs, alone in a crib or bassinet.
It is safe to use a bouncy seat or swing for a nap if you are in the same room and watching your baby sleep. But it is critically important that safety straps are always used, even with you in the room. And that you are observing your baby breathing, of course. Being on an incline seems to be a risk for SIDS, possibly even with the safety straps, so better safe than sorry.
It is not recommended that you let your baby sleep in her car seat except when she is riding in the car. In that case, her car seat is the safest place for her, of course. Once the car ride is over, it is recommended that you take her out of the car seat and put her into her crib. I know how terrible that sounds! But the problem with the car seat is that over time, it can compress her airway and increase the risk of SIDS.
If your baby doesn’t want to sleep in his bassinet -- and this is very common, especially for newborns -- here are some things you can try.
First, try the actual crib. Many babies sleep better in the crib than the bassinet. Perhaps the mattress is more comfortable? Give this multiple tries before deciding if it helped or not.
Second, use the 5 S’s to your advantage (with babies under 12 weeks old). They are swaddling -- even if he cries! -- suck (pacifier or a clean finger), side lying (in your arms only, on his back in the crib), shushing (white noise), and swinging (in your arms, before placing in the crib).
Third, try placing a heating pad in the crib for a few minutes. Remove the heating pad and feel the mattress with your hand, checking to make sure it’s not too hot, before you put the baby down.
Fourth, don’t be afraid of a little crying. Even for a newborn, it is perfectly safe. Put the baby down and stay with her and gradually increase the amount of support you offer. Maybe your presence, or a soothing voice, is enough. Next, try the pacifier or a clean finger to suck. Maybe just placing your hand on her body is enough, or jiggling and patting will do the trick. If not, try rocking her and putting her back down again. Use feeding as a last resort as a way to put her to sleep.
Don’t expect perfection the first time. But keep trying at least one or two times a day. Things will improve with consistent practice.
If all else fails and he will only sleep in arms, enlist all the help you can. If you have a partner, family member, or alternate caregiver, take turns sleeping and holding the baby (the person holding the baby stays awake). If you can enlist a friend to take the 8 pm -- 12 am shift even occasionally, take advantage! Go to sleep as early as you can. Even an unbroken 4-hour stretch can be lifechanging. These difficult early days don’t last forever.
Likewise, if you can hire some temporary nighttime help, do it! I hired a “baby nurse” every fifth night when Amelie was a colicky newborn and it was the best money I have ever spent. I couldn’t have parented my three-year-old humanely in those early weeks without help. I was just too exhausted and frazzled without help.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against bedsharing. If you are nonetheless committed to it, please read up on “safer bedsharing practices.” The safest option is room sharing but not bedsharing.
Parenting a young infant is hard. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Ask for all the help. Be safe.
If you are struggling with massive sleep deprivation and an exhausted baby, you aren’t alone. Let’s set up a free chat and get your family the great sleep you all deserve.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.