Bolsters causing infant deaths

Bolsters causing infant deaths

Is the seemingly innocent bolster causing a rise in infant deaths? Find out why you should think twice about propping your baby up with that innocuous bolster and pillow.


Think twice about letting your baby sleep in a cluttered crib

Bolstered to death
In a report likely to cause alarm amongst new parents, health officials in the US have warned parents about the hidden but very real dangers of bolsters. The story carried by Channel News Asia, states that these bolsters or ‘sleep positioners’ are directly involved in 13 reported cases of infant deaths.

False marketing?
The bolsters which are generally used here to keep sleeping babies on their backs or to stop them from rolling off the bed have been marketed as a sleeping aid for infants and even touted by some manufacturers as a preventive measure against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) which claim over 2000 lives each year in the US alone!

Thus this new warning and findings will come as a shock for parents here who have relied on these ‘sleep positioners’ for their little one’s restful sleep through the night.

The reported cases all involved infants four months and younger who had suffocated after rolling from their side to their stomach. Some of them were even found trapped between the side of the crib and the bolster. This is heartbreaking as it points to the fact that these deaths could probably have been prevented.

The ideal crib
According to paediatric expert Susan Cummins, “The safest crib is a bare crib. [So clear the crib of comforters,toys, pillows or blankets] and always put your baby on his or her back to sleep. An easy way to remember this is to follow the ABC’s of safe sleep – Alone on the Back in a bare Crib.”

Other preventive measures for SIDS

  • Always put a baby to sleep on its back even during naptimes.
  • Only put babies to sleep in a crib. and not on any other surfaces such as the sofa or with other people (such as co-sleeping)
  • Avoid soft bedding materials. This includes bolsters, comforters, pillows or quilts.
  • Make sure the room temperature is not too hot.
  • Consider using a pacifier when putting baby to sleep.
  • Breastfeed your baby, if possible as breastfeeding can help reduce some upper respiratory infections that may influence the development of SIDS.
  • Never give honey to a baby younger than one.
We would like to know if you think using bolsters is safe for your infant. Take our poll below.


For more related articles on you baby, see:

10 dangerous medicines for your baby

What happens to your baby after delivery?

Is my baby allergic to formula?

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Written by

Wafa Marican

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