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Why Weighted Blankets Could Be Dangerous For Infants

As adults embrace weighted blankets as a method for reducing anxiety and insomnia, some parents have turned to using weighted blankets with their babies, including newborns. Experts have raised the alarm about the dangers that products like weighted swaddles and blankets pose for infants. 

Weighted blankets for adults are marketed as a product that offers comforting pressure, which can reduce anxiety and alleviate insomnia. This pressure can help an adult fall asleep and stay asleep easily. But when infants are placed in weighted swaddles or under weighted blankets, their lives are at risk. 

young woman in housecoat swaddling her newborn baby in crib

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wrote a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) outlining that weighted blankets, including weighted swaddles, should never be used with babies. The letter highlighted that the best way for babies to sleep was being placed on their back, on a firm and flat sleep surface, without loose bedding or bumpers. 

The CPSC, the federal agency responsible for ensuring consumers are protected from dangerous products, recently updated its safe sleep guidance for infants. In the update, CPSC included guidance around the use of weighted blankets and swaddles. Their guidance remains that “Bare is Best.” Caregivers and parents should ensure that nothing is in the crib, play yard, or bassinet apart from a fitted sheet and baby. This includes no blankets or pillows, weighted or otherwise.

The AAP’s letter written by the medical experts included, “There is no evidence in the peer-reviewed scientific literature evaluating the safety of weighted sleep products on typical, healthy infants, and there is also nothing published regarding their use in an unmonitored setting.”

Nested Bean and Dreamland Baby are two manufacturers selling weighted blankets and infant swaddles. They stand by the claims that their products are safe. The weights of the products account for no more than 10 percent of the weight of the baby. This ratio is the same blanket-to-adult weight ratio recommended in adult-weighted blankets. 

When Consumer Reports reached out to Nested Bean, the manufacturer shared that while it values AAP’s input, its “experience of more than a decade on the market shows that Nested Bean’s minimally weighted infant sleepwear products are safe and effective.” Nested Bean has sold over 2.5 million weighted products.

When Consumer Reports approached Dreamland Baby about the safety of their products, a press representative shared that their product is safe, stating that “the AAP’s position against wearable weighted products is not supported by scientific evidence, including product testing.” The company representative shared that Dreamland Baby has a study underway with a university regarding the company’s product efficacy and safety. Since 2019, more than 500,000 Dreamland Baby sleep sacks have been sold – with no negative reports.

CPSC has received two reports of sleep-related deaths of babies who were wearing a weighted swaddle or sleep sack. Both reports are documented in CPSC’s public incident report database. At the time of both babies’ deaths, both infants had been placed in an infant lounger, which reclined the baby at an angle. Medical experts reinforce that babies should sleep in cribs, play yards, and bassinets only, flat on their backs. Two other reports in the database indicate that two caregivers were anxious about the risk of suffocation after a weighted swaddle was present near their infant’s mouth. 

Risks of Using Weighted Blankets on Babies

Medical experts agree that even gentle pressure of weighted sleep products can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening to infants. Under no circumstances should weight be added to a baby’s chest. “When babies are first born, their rib cage is not rigid…and so it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to press on it and create obstruction there. It makes it harder for them to breathe, it makes it harder for their heart to beat properly if there’s pressure on there,” Rachel Moon, MD and professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia and chair of the AAP’s task force on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) shared with Consumer Reports.

Products like weighted blankets and swaddles can place babies in danger by making unsafe sleeping positions more difficult to escape. A weighted blanket can trap a baby on their stomach or cover their mouth and nose – increasing the risk of SIDS or suffocation. If newborns were swaddled in weighted products and rolled over onto their stomachs, the weighted product would make it much more difficult to roll back onto their backs. 

Medical experts also remind parents and caregivers that babies should be waking up at night to feed regularly based on their age. While caregivers may prefer that babies sleep longer at night, experts remind parents that having babies wake up at night is a positive sign. Moon shared that young babies should wake in the night to feed. “In terms of babies who die of SIDS, what we think is happening is that they can’t wake up; there’s a problem with their arousal,” she shared. “When babies wake up in the middle of the night, that is actually protective.” 

Dangerous and Defective Lawsuits

Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed by dangerous and defective products. These products include household appliances, hazardous toys, industrial equipment, medical devices, and drugs. According to Richard O’Brien of CPSC, consumer product incidents cost more than $1 trillion each year.

Many consumers may assume that products are carefully tested and approved by the manufacturer and the government before being sold. But in many cases, manufacturer defects, insufficient warnings, and design problems can make consumer products dangerous and even deadly. Many product defects are not found before they cause injury to someone, but if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a defective or dangerous product, manufacturers should be held accountable. 

By filing a product liability lawsuit against a manufacturer, you are making consumer goods safer for everyone by raising awareness of dangerous or defective products. In the case of consumer goods for babies and children, they rely on parents and caregivers to speak up and take action if they have been injured. Consulting with a product liability attorney can provide a roadmap for navigating the legal system. Pursuing a lawsuit against a manufacturer can be a long and tedious process, one that is made easier with the support of an attorney with expertise in product liability law. 

As caregivers of infants, it’s essential to know that there are countless choices to make, from feeding to bathing to how and where your baby sleeps. Understanding the risks to your baby can help empower safer decisions. When considering products that will be used to care for infants, think about safety first.