An NBC News investigation recently found that at least 162 babies have died in incidents involving nursing pillows since 2007. Most of the infants died after they were placed to sleep on or with the pillows.
Just two weeks after the investigation was published, Consumer Product Safety Commission staff recommended the first federal requirements to make nursing pillows safer. Enclosed is more information on their findings and recommendations.
The staff recommended requiring nursing pillows to be “sufficiently firm that the product is unlikely to conform to an infant’s face,” to reduce the likelihood of babies’ suffocating. The staff also recommended that the U-shaped pillows have openings wide enough to avoid restricting infants’ head movements, which could cut off airflow.
“Because infants frequently fall asleep during or after feeding, nursing pillows are foreseeably misused for infant sleep, which creates a potential hazard for the infant,” according to the staff’s draft proposal.
The CPSC staff also proposed requiring prominent labels warning caregivers about the product’s hazards. Most nursing pillows already have warning tags that caution against using the products for sleep or leaving infants unsupervised on them, but they should be more visible and more difficult to remove, unlike the hanging warning tags currently attached to many nursing pillows, the draft proposal said.
In addition, the staff recommended that nursing pillows not include straps to secure babies, which could lead parents to believe it’s safe to leave infants alone in the products.
The CPSC staff cited 154 deaths involving nursing pillows from 2010 to 2022, including deaths caused by suffocation, asphyxia and sudden infant death syndrome. In 2020, the most recent year for which the agency had complete data, 38 deaths were associated with nursing pillows, the CPSC said.
Nursing pillows are a common staple on baby registries, with an estimated 1.34 million sold annually in the U.S. The horseshoe-shaped pillows can help position infants so they get the correct latch as they nurse — and they are marketed as essential tools for reducing parents’ neck and shoulder strain as they breastfeed or bottle-feed their babies.
If your family has been afflicted by a nursing pillow without sufficient labeling or safety information, please call the experts at Inserra Kelley Sewell today for a free consultation.